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Arts & Culture

Cinema Junkie Episode 220: Talking Noir Dames with the Nitrate Diva, Part Two

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Universal Pictures
Actress Ella Raines may look like a classic femme fatale but she represents what Nora Fiore calls The Lady Sleuth in "Phantom Lady" (1944).

Meet the Glamorous Victim, the Lady Sleuth and more as Cinema Junkie concludes a discussion of the diverse women of film noir

Nora Fiore, the Nitrate Diva, returns for part two of Noir Dames, as Cinema Junkie concludes its discussion of the diverse array of women found in film noir.

Film noir is famous for femme fatales, those lethal ladies who could bring men down and not bat one beautiful eyelash. Dames like Jane Greer's Kathy in "Out of the Past" or Lizabeth Scott's Jane in "Too Late for Tears."

But Fiore, who as the Nitrate Diva offers fresh takes on old, says that noir serves up so much more than just femme fatales. You can even find genuinely good women who challenge expectations by providing, as Fiore says, "a guiding light for men in dark places."

As I mentioned in Part One, there’s been a lot of discussion and scholarship about the types of women you find in noir so we are not breaking any new ground here but we’re adding our own perspective and citing our favorite examples.

In Part One of Noir Dames, Fiore and I shared our favorite femme fatales and then began discussing some other types of women you can find in the shadowy world of film noir, such as the Self-Reliant Performer.

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United Artists
Lucille Ball may be best known for her comedic skills on TV's "I Love Lucy" but she also exemplified The Lady Sleuth in both "Lured" (1947, pictured here) and "The Dark Corner" (1946).

In Part Two of Noir Dames we look to the following female characters:

  • The Lady Sleuth: Ella Raines in "Phantom Lady" and Lucille Ball in "Lured"
  • The Glamorous Victim – Rita Hayworth in "Gilda" and Lizabeth Scott in "Pitfall"
  • The Redeeming Angel – Marsha Hunt in "Raw Deal" and Alice Faye in "Fallen Angel"
  • The Suffering Wife – Joan Leslie in "Repeat Performance" and Joan Bennett in "The Reckless Moment"
  • The Self-Rescuing Damsel – Nina Foch in "My Name Is Julia Ross"
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Columbia Pictures
In "The Reckless Moment" (1949) Joan Bennett plays a wife and mother who has to contend with murder and blackmail.

And since Fiore and I both like to highlight under-appreciated films and performers, here's a list of underrated dames of noir: Ella Raines, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Janis Carter, Mary Beth Hughes and Helen Walker.

If you want to seek out some of these films here's a YouTube playlist where you can find some for free.

Also, check out the Geeky Gourmet video about how to make a black and white noir dessert to die for.

Geeky Gourmet: Noir Dessert To Die For