The role of women in Film Noir is one of the elements that make this genre so special. In a large number of Film Noir pictures, women are clearly smarter than the men and in complete control of the narrative. Men are weak who give in to their desires often committing heinous acts just so they can be with the woman who is otherwise forbidden unless they get rid of (in most cases that means murdering) the thing or person that stands between them. These women are comfortable in their skin and know how to get what they want while the men are often lost and easily manipulated. In some cases the men are fully aware that they are being used like Robert Mitchum in Angel Face who points out to Fatale Jean Simmons that she has murderous thoughts, yet hooks up with her anyway. It's fascinating to watch women take the dominant role in these pictures as they drive the narrative, sometimes without having to do anything more than just exist.
|Lola Lane as Edna along with one of the many possible suspects in 'Deadline at Dawn'|
|Susan Hayward is ultimately charmed by the 'Aw Shucks' Bill Williams|
|Susan Hayward and Paul Lukas give up their night to help Bill Williams|
|Edna's psychotic brother played by Joseph Calleia|
In Backfire (1950, directed by Vincent Sherman), Viveca Lindfors doesn't have to die or really do anything to drive all the men crazy. She does enough damage as it is just by existing.
|Viveca Lindfors in 'Backfire'|
|Is she a dream? Nope, Viveca Lindfors is very real in 'Backfire'|
|Viveca Lindfors enchants Edmund O'Brien|