Film noirs (or is it films noir?) are known for their dark, rainy streets, hard-boiled and hard-drinking detectives, and gorgeous-but-deadly women. We’re here today to discuss the lattermost part of that equation – particularly the “gorgeous” part. Compiled through years of meticulous research, here are the six hottest women in noir.
Barbara Stanwyck became a star by playing fast-talking, sexy, and intelligent women in comedies like “The Lady Eve” and dramas like “Baby Face.” But she was one of the key figures in kicking off the era of film noir with her performance as femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson in Billy Wilder‘s “Double Indemnity.” Phyllis is an incredibly sexy wife who wants to become a widow, if you catch our meaning, and she’s one of the best femme fatales in movie history.
Lauren Bacall began her career as a model, but it wasn’t until she got her big break in the quasi-noir “To Have and Have Not” opposite Humphrey Bogart that she became a star. It was in order to quell her stage fright during the filming of this movie that she developed her signature “The Look,” a kind of chin-down, eyes-up gaze that audiences still have trouble shaking to this day. And then her performance in “The Big Sleep” cemented her position as one of the most unforgettable femme fatales in film noir.
Although not known for noir, Rita Hayworth put in at least one notable bombshell performance in “The Lady from Shanghai,” taking direction from and starring opposite her then-husband Orson Welles. She chopped off her famous hair and dyed it a platinum blonde in order to portray Elsa Bannister, the obligatory mysterious and alluring female of the title.
Unlike some other famous noir actresses, Lana Turner seems born to play the femme fatale. She does it to greatest effect in the classic noir “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” bringing an unbelievable sexual charisma to the character of Cora Smith, the married young woman who enlists the help of a drifter in murdering her husband.
Gene Tierney had a wide-ranging, long-lasting career in Hollywood that reached far beyond the bounds of noir. But she also gave one of the definitive noir performances as the titular character in “Laura.” Although she begins the movie as the supposed victim of a shotgun blast to the face, it soon becomes clear that matters are much more mysterious (and sexy) than they seem.
She’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way. Who can forget the luscious noir siren of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” – she might just be ink and paint, but she has to rank among the sexiest females in movies. And while “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” is nobody’s idea of pure film noir, it certainly takes more than a few cues from the classics, placing it within the genre of “neonoir,” and thus still open for business.