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Femme Fatales: The Women of Film Noir

"The 'dark lady' who tempts man and brings about his destruction is among the oldest themes of art, literature, mythology, and religion in Western culture. She and her alter ego (the virgin, the mother) form the two poles of female archetypes. While film noir is a creation of the male-dominated industry, the genre does represent one of the few periods in cinema where women are active, not static, symbols; are intelligent and powerful—if destructively so; and derive strength, not weakness, from their sexuality."
—Janey Place, excerpt from Women in Film Noir

Community partner: Houston Film Critics Society

Past Films in This Series



Directed by Charles Vidor
Friday's screening introduced by Regina Scruggs, member of Houston Film Critics Society and Broadcast Film Critics Association Gambler Johnny Farrell (Glenn Ford) is rescued from a gunman by Ballin Mundson (George Macready), a sinister Argentine casino boss who later makes Johnny his right-hand man. Their association is based on a mutual lack of scruples and is strained when Mundson returns from a trip with a wife: the supremely desirable Gilda (Rita Hayworth), whom Johnny once knew and learned to hate. more info

The Blue Dahlia

Directed by George Marshall
Saturday's screening introduced by Joshua Starnes, An ex-bomber pilot is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife in this film noir classic. Neat, fast-paced, and perfectly cast, The Blue Dahlia reflects the hard-boiled, grim wit of author Raymond Chandler. Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake star, with Hugh Beaumont, William Bendix, Howard Da Silva, and Doris Dowling. more info

Road House

Directed by Jean Negulesco
Richard Widmark plays the borderline-psycho owner of a combination road house / bowling alley. When his singer (Ida Lupino) seems more interested in the establishment’s manager, the sadistic Widmark gets even. “This slam-bang melodrama of troubled love, murder, and unique revenge in a sleazy nightclub . . . is filled with a ‘macabre demonstration of a wildly jealous man who is bent on ruining two lives.’” —The Hollywood Reporter   more info

Kiss Me Deadly

Directed by Robert Aldrich
Sunday's screening introduced by Michael Bergeron, Free Press Houston Ralph Meeker stars as private detective Mike Hammer, whose decision to pick up a distressed young hitchhiker (Cloris Leachman) sends him down a terrifying path. “Kiss Me Deadly is a film-noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.” — “If Kiss Me Deadly were a brand-new film, it would still be shocking in ... more info