THE SILENT YEARS: When we started not giving a damn on screen!
THE GODLESS GIRL (1929) CHAIR SMASH courtesy of our favorite genius gif generator- Fritzi of Movies Silently.
In celebration of our upcoming on August 15 & 16, I had this idea to provide a list of bold, brilliant, and beautiful women! Anti Damsel Blogathon
There was to be no indecent exposure of the ankles and no SCHWOOSHING! Not in this Blogathon baby!
From the heyday of Silent film and the advent of talking pictures to the late ‘20s to 1934 Pre-Code Hollywood, films were rife with provocative and suggestive images, where women were kicking up a storm on screen… The end of the code during the early 60s dared to offer social commentary about race, class, gender, and sexuality! That’s our party!
In particular, these bold women and the screen roles they adopted have become legendary. They sparked catchy dialogue, inspired fashion trends, or just plain inspired us… Altogether there are 111 of SOME of the most determined, empowered, and uniquely fortified femmes of classic film…!
First of course I consulted the maven of all things splendid, shimmery, and SILENT for her take on silent film actresses and the parts that made them come alive on the immortal screen…. Fritzi at has summoned up these Movies Silently fabulous femmes…
1) Rischka (Pola Negri) in The Wildcat (1921) Ernst Lubitsch’s hyperactive Dr. Seussian comedy is worth seeing for the sets alone but the best part is Pola Negri’s Rischka, a young bandit queen who is terrorizing the mountains. She meets the local Lothario during a robbery and by the end of the scene she has stolen his heart. And his pants.
2) The Countess (Pola Negri) in A Woman of the World (1925) Anyone who thought going to Hollywood would tame Pola Negri’s wild side had another thing coming. In this film, she plays a countess whose skull tattoo causes an uproar in Anytown, USA. The film also features a romance between Negri and the stuffy local prosecutor, who soon finds himself on the receiving end of her bullwhip. Not a metaphor.
3) Lulu (Lois Wilson) in Miss Lulu Bett (1921) Independent women weren’t always given to violence and thievery. In the case of Lulu, she is a single woman trapped in two Victorian social conventions: spinster and poor relations. During the course of the film, she rejects both titles, learns her own self-worth, and empowers herself to enter into a healthy relationship with the local schoolmaster. Tasty feminism!
4) Zaida (Bebe Daniels) in She’s a Sheik (1927) Silent movie audiences enjoyed reversals of gender tropes. The Rudolph Valentino vehicle The Sheik (1921) had been a smash hit and had spawned many rip-offs and parodies. (kidnapping = love = box office!) In this case, a warrior princess falls for a French officer and decides the most sensible course of action is to abduct him for the purpose of marriage. Sadly, this comedy seems to be one of many silent films that are missing and presumed lost.
5) Eve (Leatrice Joy) in Eve’s Leaves (1926) Another gender reversal comedy, Eve’s Leaves features twenties fashion icon Leatrice Joy as a tomboy sailor who finds the perfect man while ashore on business. She ends up saving the day– and her favorite dude in distress– through quick thinking, a knowledge of knots, and a mean right hook.
6) Ossi (Ossi Oswalda) in The Doll (1919) Ernst Lubitsch featured another feisty heroine in this surreal comedy. Our hero wishes to dodge marriage but cannot gain his inheritance without a bride. A plan! He will buy a lifelike doll from a famous toymaker and marry that. What he doesn’t know is that the doll was broken, the toymaker’s daughter has taken its place and she means to teach the reluctant bridegroom a lesson. Oswalda’s mischievous antics are a delight.
7) Molly (Mary Pickford) in Sparrows (1926) Mary Pickford was America’s Sweetheart during the silent era and audiences adored her fearless heroines. Molly is one of her boldest. She’s an orphan raised in a Southern swamp who must rescue a kidnapped infant. The epic final race across the swamps– complete with alligators– is still harrowing to behold.
8) Helen (Helen Holmes) in A Lass of the Lumberlands (1916) Helen Holmes was an action star who specialized in train-related stunts and adventure. In this 1916 serial, she saves the day on numerous occasions and even saves her love interest from peril on the train tracks. (It should be mentioned that the Victorian “woman tied to the train tracks” cliche was incredibly rare and usually treated with ridicule in silent films.) This is another movie that is missing and presumed lost.
9) Diana Monti (Musidora) in Judex (1916) Not all the empowered women in classic films were heroines. In the case of Musidora, her most famous roles were as criminal. She was the deadly thief/hit-woman Irma Vep in Les Vampires and then took on the titular caped crusader in Judex. Smart, stealthy, and likely to slip a stiletto between the ribs… in short, a woman not to be trifled with.
10) Helen (Miriam Nesbitt) in The Ambassador’s Daughter (1913) This short film from Thomas Edison’s motion picture studio features espionage and a quick-thinking heroine. She tracks down spies at the embassy, follows her suspect, and manages to steal back the documents that he purloined from her father. Not at all bad for a film made seven years before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.
11) Cornelia Van Gorder (Emily Fitzroy) in The Bat (1926) It’s a dark and stormy night and a murderous costumed villain means to recover stolen loot in an isolated mansion. What is an elderly woman to do? Take up her trusty pistol and investigate, of course! She also wields a dry wit and keeps cool under pressure. The Bat doesn’t stand a chance.
12) Catherine the Great (Louise Dresser) in The Eagle (1925) As mentioned above, Rudolph Valentino specialized in aggressive wooing but he finds the shoe on the other foot in this Russian romance. Louise Dresser is a kick as the assertive czarina who knows what she likes and goes for it.
Now to unleash the gust of gals from my tornadic mind filled with favorite actresses and the characters that have retained an undying sacred vow to heroine worship… In their private lives, their public persona and the mythological stardom that has & still captivates generations of fans, the roles they brought to life, and the lasting influence that refuses to go away…!
Because they have their own unique rhythm to the way they moved through the world… a certain kind of mesmerizing allure, and/or they just didn’t give a hoot, a damn… nor a flying fig!
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud”- Coco Chanel
Stars like Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Ida Lupino managed to keep re-inventing themselves. They became spirited women with an inner reserve of strength and a passion for following their desires!
Barbara Stanwyck posing with boxing gloves! The following actresses and their immortal characters are in no particular order…!
13. Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) Double Indemnity (1944) set fire to the screen as one of the most seductive femme fatales— a dame who made sunglasses and ankle bracelets a provocative weapon. She had murder on her mind and was just brazen enough to concoct an insurance scam that will pay off on her husband’s murder in Double Indemnity (1944). Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) is the insurance guy who comes around and winds up falling under her dangerous spell… Walter Neff: ”You’ll be here too?” Phyllis: “ I guess so, I usually am.” Neff: “Same chair, same perfume, same ankle?” Phyllis: “I wonder if I know what you mean?” Neff: “ I wonder if you wonder?”
14. Marie “Slim” Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944) Lauren Bacall walked into our cinematic consciousness at age 19 when Howard Hawks cast her as Marie “Slim” Browning in To Have and Have Not (1944). A night club singer, (who does a smoking rendition of Hogie Carmichael’s ‘How Little We Know”) She’s got a smooth talking deep voiced sultry beauty, possesses a razor-sharp wit to crack wise with, telling it like it is, and the sexiest brand of confidence and cool. Slim has the allure of a femme fatale, the depth of a soul mate and the reliability of a confidant, and a fearless sense of adventure. Playing across Bogart as the jaded Captain Harry Morgan who with alcoholic shipmate Eddie (Walter Brennan ) runs a boating operation on the island of Martinique. Broke they take a job transporting a fugitive running from the Nazis. Though Morgan doesn’t want to get involved, Slim is a sympathizer for the resistance, and he falls in love with her, while she makes no bones about wanting him to with all the sexual innuendo to heat things up! Slim: “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”
15. Margo Channing (Bette Davis) All About Eve (1950) In all Bette Davis’ films like (Jezebel (1938) Dark Victory (1939) The Letter (1940) Now, Voyager (1942)), she shattered the stereotypes of the helpless female woman in peril. Davis had an unwavering strength, fearlessly taking on the Hollywood system and embracing fully the moody roles that weren’t always ‘attractive.’ Davis made her comeback in 1950, perhaps melding a bit of her own story as an aging star in All About Eve. Margo must fend off a predatory aspiring actress (Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington) who insinuates herself into Margo’s territory. Davis manifests the persona of ambition and betrayal which have become epic… “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
16. Margaret DeLorca / Edith Phillips (Bette Davis) plays the good twin/bad twin paradigm in Dead Ringer (1964). Edith is a struggling working-class gal who owns a nightclub, and Margaret is her vein and opportunistic twin who stole her beau Frank away and married into a wealthy lifestyle. On the night of his funeral, Edith shoots Margaret in a fit of vengeful pique, then assumes her identity with ironic results. Davis again proves even though she commits murder, she can manifest a pathos like no one else… Margaret DeLorca Edith Phillips: : You really hate me, don’t you? You’ve never forgiven me in all these years.” .” Margaret DeLorca: “Why should I? Tell me why I should Edith Phillips: “Well, we’re sisters!” “So we are… and to hell with you!”
Grande Dames/Guignol Cinema: Robert Aldrich’s Hag Cinema Part II: Baby Jane: “You mean all this time we could have been friends?”
17. Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) is a forgotten alcoholic former child star living in a faded Hollywood mansion with her invalid sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), herself an aging Hollywood star. They punish each other with vicious mind games, temper tantrums, and repressed feelings of revenge and jealousy. Jane is a tragic tortured soul whose life becomes ‘ugly’ because she’s been shunned and imprisoned by a fatal secret to which sister Blanche holds the key. What makes Jane such an empowered figure are the very things that have driven her mad. Jane’s itching for a comeback and is ready to dance and sing her way back into everyone’s heart! Jane has a child-like innocence that gives her that ambition and pure drive to see herself back on the stage. She believes it. While other people might laugh at her behind her back, Jane’s repressed rage also leaves room for joy. She’s an empowered aging actress who refuses to give up the spotlight… Good for you Jane, now put down that hammer and feed Blanche something edible… Davis delivering yet another legendary line… Blanche: Jane: “You wouldn’t be able to do these awful things to me if I weren’t still in this chair.” But you *are*, Blanche! You *are* in that chair!”
18. Alma Brown (Patricia Neal), in Hud (1963): Playing against the unashamed bad boy Hud Bannon (Paul Newman), Alma is a world-weary housekeeper who drips with a quiet stoic sensuality and a slow wandering voice that speaks of her rugged womanly charm. The philandering Hud is drawn to Alma, but she’s too much woman for him in the end… Hud Bannon: Alma Brown: “I’ll do anything to make you trade him.” “No thanks. I’ve done my time with one cold-blooded bastard, I’m not looking for another.”
19. Sugarpuss O’Shea (Stanny) in Ball of Fire (1941) is just that, a sexy ball of fire and a wise-cracking night club singer who has to hide out from the mob because her testimony could put her mobster boyfriend Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews) away for murder! Some nerdy professors (including Gary Cooper) want to exploit her to study slang and learn what it’s like to speak like real folk and does she turn their world upside down? Sugarpuss O’Shea: [needing help with a stubborn zipper] “You know, I had this happen one night in the middle of my act. I couldn’t get a thing off. Was I embarrassed!“ https://thelastdrivein.com/2013/07/21/edward-dmytryks-walk-on-the-wild-side-1962-at-the-doll-house-when-people-are-kind-to-each-other-why-do-they-have-to-find-a-dirty-word-for-it/
20. Jo Courtney (Barbara Stanwyck) in Walk on The Wild Side (1962). Jo runs the New Orleans bordello called The Doll House with an iron hand— when anyone steps out of line she knows how to handle them. Stanwyck had the guts to play a lesbian in 1962, madly in love with Hallie Gerard (Capucine). Stanwyck’s Jo Courtney is elegant, self-restrained, and as imposing as Hera in tailored suits. Having to be strong in a man’s world, her strong instinct for survival and the audacious will to hold onto Hallie brings her world to a violent conclusion… “Oh, you know me better than that Hallie. Sometimes I’ve waited years for what I wanted.”
21. Marie Garson (Ida Lupino) in High Sierra (1941) Roy “Mad Dog” Earle has been pardoned from a long prison term. Marie, a rough around the edges taxi dancer, finds herself resisting her attraction to this brutal gangster, forming a very complicated dynamic with a second mobster who wants to pull off a high-stakes robbery. Marie is a force of nature that bristles from every nerve she purely musters in this tale of doom-fated bad boys, but more importantly here… A woman can raise a rifle with the best of them! Marie Garson “Yeah, I get it. Ya always sort hope ya can get out, it keeps ya going.”
The Dark Drawer: Four Obscurely Fabulous Film Noir Fare…
22. Lilli Marlowe (Ida Lupino) in Private Hell 36 (1954) This rare noir gem is written by the versatile powerhouse Ida Lupino who also plays Lilli Marlowe. Lilli has expensive tastes. After getting caught up in an investigation of a bank heist, she falls in love with the blue-collar cop Cal Bruner (Steve Cochran). Cal has secretly stashed away the missing money from that bank heist and then begins to suffer from a guilty conscience. Lilli’s slick repartee is marvelous as Cal and his reluctant partner Jack Farnham (then husband Howard Duff) focus on her, hoping she’ll help them in their investigation. Lilli’s tough, she’s made it on her own and isn’t about to compromise now… Cal may be falling apart but Lilli knows what she wants and she always seems to keep it together! Lilli Marlowe: “Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed I’d meet a drunken slob in a bar who’d give me fifty bucks and we’d live happily ever after.”
23. Constance Porter (Tallulah Bankhead) in Lifeboat 1944. It’s WWII and Connie is a smart-talking international journalist who’s stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with an ensemble of paranoid and desperate survivors. Eventually, her fur coat comes off, her diamond bracelet and expensive camera get tossed into the sea. But she doesn’t give a damn, she can take the punishment and still attract the hunky and shirtless (yum) John Kodiak… survival’s just a state of mind… and she does it with vigor and class and a cool calm! Connie Porter: “Dying together’s even more personal than living together.”
24. Berenice Sadie Brown (Ethel Waters) The Member of the Wedding 1952. Berenice doesn’t take any crap. She’s in charge of the brooding, temperamental tomboy Franky Addams (Julie Harris) who feels like an outsider. Berenice’s kitchen is a place of wisdom as she tries to bestow some life lessons, to a child who is a wild and longing little soul… Berenice is the only steady source of nurturing and a strong pair of shoulders to lean on… Thank god Franky/Harris didn’t start having her droning inner monologues until The Haunting (1963). Frances ‘Frankie’ Addams: [throws the knife into the kitchen door] “I’m the world’s greatest knife thrower.” Berenice Sadie Brown: [when Frankie threatens her with a knife] “Lay it down, Satan!”
25. The Bride (Elsa Lanchester) Bride of Frankenstein (1935) The Bride might be one of the first screen women to rabidly defy an arranged/deranged marriage. She’s iconic, memorable, and filled with glorious hiss!.. because The Bride may have come into this world in an unorthodox way, but she’ll be damned if any man is going to tell her who to love! James Whale isn’t the only one who brought about life in this campy horror masterpiece… Elsa Lanchester manifested The Bride with a keen sense of fearsome independence. No matter whether the Monster demands a Mate, The Bride isn’t ready and willing. Lanchester always took daring roles that were larger than life because she had a way of dancing around the edges of Hollywood conventions. Charming, hilarious, and downright adorable even with the wicked lightning-struck hair and stitches and deathly pale skin! the bride- “Hiss…Scream…”
26. Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) in His Gal Friday (1940) Hildy is a hard-bitten reporter for New York City’s The Morning Post. She’s just gotten back from Reno to get a divorce from her louse of a husband who happens to also be her boss Walter Burns (Cary Grant). Hildy’s anxious to break ties with her manipulative ex-husband who just isn’t ready to let her leave the job or their marriage so she can marry straight-laced Bruce (Ralph Bellamy)… and he’ll do so by any means. But she’s nobody’s fool… and if she stays it’s because she’s made up her mind to embrace Walter’s crazy antics… Hildy Johnson: [to Walter on the phone] “Now, get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee: There ain’t going to be any interview and there ain’t going to be any story. And that certified check of yours is leaving with me in twenty minutes. I wouldn’t cover the burning of Rome for you if they were just lighting it up. If I ever lay my two eyes on you again, I’m gonna walk right up to you and hammer on that monkeyed skull of yours ’til it rings like a Chinese gong!” https://thelastdrivein.com/2014/04/23/when-the-spider-woman-looks-two-glorias-wicked-love-close-ups-old-jewels-the-sympathetically-tragic-villainesses-of-sunset-blvd-1950-and-draculas-daughter-1936/
27. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) in Sunset Boulevard (1950) There’s just no one quite like Norma Desmond. It’s 1950’s decadent Hollywood, the heyday of the Silent Era long gone… and a true screen icon, a sympathetic soul, fights her way to a comeback. brought to life by Gloria Swanson. Swanson, who knew very well what it was like to be a screen goddess railing against fading away, creates an atmosphere of fevered madness. She’s a woman whose desires are punished by an industry and the men who hold the reigns. But Norma doesn’t give a damn she’ll always be ready for that eternal close-up… Yet another memorable phrase is turned and a legend both on and off screen is reborn. J oe Gillis: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.” Norma Desmond: “I *am* big. It’s the *pictures* that got small.”
28. Karen Stone -(Vivien Leigh) in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) Karen Stone has the misfortune of being a 50-year-old actress. There’s no place in the theatre for an old woman of 50. On the way to Italy with her husband who is much older than she, he dies of a heart attack on the plane. Karen decides to settle in Rome and live a quiet life of solitude in her magnificent villa. Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales (Lotte Lenya) is an opportunistic Madame who employs charming young gigolos to wine, dine, and bleed dry wealthy older women. She introduces Paolo di Leo (Warren Beatty) to Karen in hopes that it will bring about a showering of riches from this great American lady. Karen has no use for her old theatre friends, the status, and the game of staying on top. She enjoys the serenity of her life at the villa. Yet she is shadowed by a young Italian street hustler’s mysterious gaze. At first, Karen is reserved and cautious but soon she allows Paolo to court her, and the two eventually begin an affair. Karen is aware Paolo is using her for her money, but her passion has been released. She is using him as well. But when his mood begins to sour and he turns away, Karen finds him with a younger wealthy upcoming starlet that he is already sizing up as his next meal ticket… The fling ends but Karen has taken back the power of attraction and sexual desire, and turns the usual stigmatizing dichotomy on its head, while it was okay when she was a younger woman married to a much older man, she takes a younger male lover Karen Stone: “You see… I don’t leave my diamonds in the soap dish… and when the time comes when nobody desires me… for myself… I’d rather not be… desired… at all.”
29. Maxine Faulk (Ava Gardner) in Night of the Iguana (1964). Maxine is a personification of the loner. She is sexually, morally, and socially independent from opinion. When Ava was cast as the “earthy widow” the director said her “feline sexuality” was perfect for one of Tennessee Williams’ “hot-blooded ladies.” Maxine runs a quiet out-of-the-way tourist oasis in Mexico. When a busload of provincial middle-aged ladies break down, Maxine has to host Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall) a repressed lesbian, her gaggle of ladies who lunch, and Sue Lyon, a Lolita who is chasing Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) a defrocked alcoholic priest, that Maxine would like to become better acquainted with. Once Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr) and her elderly grandfather arrive, the atmosphere seems to shift and Shannon is confronted with questions of life and love. Everyone at the hotel has demons and the rich and languid air seems to effect everyone… Maxine waits patiently for Lawrence to realize that they could have a passionate life together if he’d stop torturing himself… Gardner’s scene dancing in the ocean with the two young men is daring and provocative and purely Ava Garnder- Judith Fellowes: [Yelling at Shannon] “You thought you outwitted me, didn’t you, having your paramour here cancel my call.” Maxine Faulk: “Miss Fellowes, honey, if paramour means what I think it does you’re gambling with your front teeth.”
Ava Gardner | Maxine Faulk in Night of the Iguana 1964.
30. Maude (Ruth Gordon) in Harold and Maude (1971) There is no one quite like Ruth Gordon. She’s a sage, a pixie filled with a dreamy light that shines so bright from within. You can’t help but believe that she was as effervescent off-screen as she was on screen. Maude has a transcendent worldview and a personal dogma to live life to the fullest and not waste time with extraneous matters. She believes everyone should be themselves and never mind what other people think… What else can you say about a character that vocalizes as much wisdom as any of the great and insightful spiritual leaders? Maude and Ruth both have tenacity, vivacity, and perspicacity… Maude: “Harold, *everyone* has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can’t let the world judge you too much.” — Maude: “I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They’re so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?” Harold: “I don’t know. One of these, maybe.” Maude: “Why do you say that?” Harold: “Because they’re all alike.” Maude: “Oooh, but they’re *not*. Look. See, some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, and some even have lost some petals. All *kinds* of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are *this.”
31. Ma Kate Barker (Shelley Winters) in Bloody Mama 1970: You know that Roger Corman was going to get the BEST woman who didn’t give a damn to play Ma Barker, the machine gun-wielding matriarch of a notorious gang of bank robbers. She’ll do anything for her boys… Four boys only a mother could love. She’d kill for them! Ma Barker was irreverent and as mean as a bear backed into a beehive. A bold and brazen nature that delves into a whole other level of ‘no fucks given.’ Holding up a bank with her machine gun in hand “Alright everybody now reaches for the nightgown of the lord, REACH!”
32. Pepe (Grayson Hall) in Satan in High Heels (1962). Pepe is the owner of a posh burlesque house in mod-yet-gritty 60s New York City. Pepe is an incessant smoker and savvy, domineering woman who brings the story about a new ‘singer’ Stacey Kane (Meg Myles) who joins the club, to a boil— even as she stays as cool as the center seed of a cucumber. Pepe tilts her head sizing up all the various patrons who inhabit her club with just the right mix of aloofness and self-possession as she puffs on her cigarette. She’s always ready with the quick lash of her tongue like a world-weary drag queen. “Bear up, darling, I love your eyelashes.” — “You’ll EAT and DRINK what I SAY until you lose five pounds IN THE PLACES WHERE!”
33. Lucy Warriner (Irene Dunne), The Awful Truth (1937) Before the ink on the divorce papers is dry Jerry (Cary Grant) and Lucy Warriner (Irene Dunne) torture each other and sabotage any chances of either of them getting re-married. Both Lucy and Jerry carry on monologues to themselves throwing out quick-witted repartee so that we can see both sides of the story. One evening, when Jerry is flirting with the idea of marrying into a high society family, Lucy impersonates his sister, playing at it like a cheap bimbo. At one point she does a fabulous drunken Hoochie dance, wiggling around with a provocative sway falling into her ex-husband’s arms in a way that should definitely put a dent in Jerry’s plans. Lucy is hell-bent on driving Jerry crazy, yet becomes flustered herself when the tables are turned on her as she tries to carry on with her new fiancé (Ralph Bellamy). Jerry Warriner: “In half an hour, we’ll no longer be Mr. and Mrs. Funny, isn’t it.” Lucy Warriner: “Yes, it’s funny that everything’s the way it is on account of the way you feel.” Jerry Warriner: “Huh?” Lucy Warriner: “Well, I mean, if you didn’t feel that way you do, things wouldn’t be the way they are, would they? I mean, things could be the same if things were different.” Jerry Warriner: “But things are the way you made them.” Lucy Warriner: “Oh, no. No, things are the way you think I made them. I didn’t make them that way at all. Things are just the same as they always were, only, you’re the same as you were, too, so I guess things will never be the same again.”
31 Flavors of Noir on the Fringe to Lure you in! Part 2
34. Catherine ‘Cay’ Higgins (Ruth Roman) in Tomorrow is Another Day (1951). Catherine is a tough dance hall girl who isn’t afraid to get herself dirty. She goes on the lam for the sake of self-preservation when her new love interest Bill Clark (Steve Cochran) is wrongfully accused of killing her abusive pimp… and geez he’s just gotten out of prison after a long stretch. Cay is ballsy, extremely earthy, and exudes an inner strength that is so authentic it’s hard not to believe she could take one on the chin and still keep going. She embodies an indestructible sort of sex appeal, a powerfully passionate and self-assertive woman you’d want to be with you if you’re ever on the lam… Catherine ‘Cay’ Higgins: “You worked a whole day just to dance a minute at Dream Land? Bill Clark: It was worth it.”
35. Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott) Pitfall (1948) Mona is a sultry dewy blonde fashion model with a low simmering voice in the greatest tradition of the noir femme fatale. Forbes falls for her, and they begin to see each other, though she unwittingly starts the affair without knowing he’s married. It’s a recipe for disaster because ex-cop turned private dick J B MacDonald (Raymond Burr) is psychotically obsessed with Mona and will set things up so Forbes goes down. Mona is a tough cookie, who unfortunately keeps attracting the wrong men. But she can take on any challenge because she’s got that noir frame of mind. She’s a doll who can make up her own mind and can hold a gun in her hand as easily as if it were a cigarette. Mona “You’re a little man with a briefcase. You go to work every morning and you do as you’re told.”
36. Lady Torrence (Anna Magnani ) in The Fugitive Kind (1960) Lady is an earthy woman whose passions run like a raging river & her emotions and truths flow freely on the surface clear and forceful. She is a shop owner in Louisiana who is stoically existing in a brutal marriage to her cruel and vindictive husband Jabe (Victor Jory) who’s bedridden and dying of cancer. Lady dreams of building a confectionary in the back of the store. Along comes Marlon Brando as Valentine “Snakeskin’ Xavier, a guitar-playing roamer who takes a job in the shop. Lady’s jaded loneliness and Valentine’s raw animal magnetism combust and the two begin a love affair. And Lady suddenly sees possibility again and her re-awakened passion empowers her to live her dreams. L ady-“Let’s get this straight, you don’t interest me no more than the air you stand in.”
37. Egle (Anna Magnani) … And the Wild Wild Women (1959) Egle is the toughest inmate at this Italian prison for women. When Lina (Giulietta Masina) is convicted of a wrong felony charge, Egle takes her under her hardened wing and tutors her in the ways of crime. Egle is an instigator, she’s volatile and inflammatory and stirs up quite a riot at times. She’s got no fear. She is a tougher-than-nails, armpit-washing dame who just could care less about anyone else’s comfort or freedom. She’s a woman who has built up a tough exterior long enough that she truly is made of steel. The only thing that may betray that strength is at times the past sorrow or suffering that swims in her deep dark eyes.
38. Serafina Delle Rose (Anna Magnani) in The Rose Tattoo (1955) As the tagline states You can’t get any other kind of performance from Magnani, her passionate soul is right up front, on her face, and in her movements like a wild animal, she moves so freely. Serafina is a perpetual grieving widow filled with fire, playing against another actor (Burt Lancaster) whose bigger-than-life presence comes her way to bring about a lighthearted romance… Serafina is a seamstress in a small New Orleans town. She lives with the memory of her dead husband as if he were a saint. She mourns and wears black to show she is still committed to her man, even after he’s been killed by police while smuggling drugs for the mafia hidden in the bananas in his truck. With the presence of the local Strega or ‘Seething with realism and frankness!” witch (Serafina gives deference to these things illustrating that she is of an older world of ancient feminine magic and empowerment), and her wandering goat, the town of fish wives & gossips who point, stare judge, wail and cackle with their unkind insults put Serafina it forces her to fight for every last bit of dignity. Serafina gives deference to these things illustrating that she is of an older world of ancient feminine magic and empowerment. Once she learns her dead husband Rosario Delle Rose (who had a rose tattoo on his chest) was having an affair, the spell that leaves her imprisoned by mourning, breaks and awakens her will to celebrate life once again. She is stubborn, & passionate, and she has a strength that commands the birds out of the trees. Serafina “We are Sicilians. We don’t leave girls with the boys they’re not engaged to!” Jack “Mrs Delle Rose this is the United States.” Serafina “But we are Sicilians, and we are not cold-blooded!”
39. Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Martha who is the archetypal Xanthippe and George (Richard Burton) are a middle-aged couple marinated in alcohol, using verbal assaults, brutal tirades, and orgies of humiliation as a form of connecting to one other. All the characters spew biting blasphemous satire and are each neurotic in their own ways. But Martha is a woman who spits out exactly what she wants to say and doesn’t hold back. It’s an experiment in at-home couple’s therapy served with cocktails, as they invite Nick and Honey (George Segal and Sandy Dennis) to join the humiliating emotional release. In the opening of the film Martha arrives home and does a nod to Bette Davis while also condemning her own personal space and the state of her marriage, as she says “What a dump.” “I swear to GOD George, if you even existed I’d divorce you.”– Martha: “You’re all flops. I’m the Earth Mother, and you are all flops.”
BUtterfield 8 (1960) Part I “I’d know her with my eyes closed, at the bottom of a coal mine, during the eclipse of the sun”
40. Gloria Wandrous (Elizabeth Taylor) in Butterfield 8 (1960). Gloria is a fashionable Manhattan beauty who’s part model, part call girl–and all man-trap. She grew up during the Depression and couldn’t escape the sexual advances of her uncle. New York City was for her a great escape. Gloria becomes an independent, sexually free woman who wants to get paid for her time. She hits the bottle a lot because she has those dark troubling memories from her past that make her want to drown her thoughts. She winds up meeting a wealthy business executive who’s married, Weston Liggett, (Laurence Harvey) instantly he becomes entranced by her. She’s thrown off course and headed toward a fateful end because she sees a kindred soul in the disillusioned Liggett who isn’t happy in his marriage. Their passion breathes new life into both lonely people. Though we can admire her sexual liberation, in cinema, women in the 60s ultimately had to be punished for their willful freedom, though it’s a double standard of course. Liz Taylor is another screen goddess who never shied away from bold & provocative roles. Gloria Wandrous: “Command performances leave me quite cold. I’ve had more fun in the back seat of a ’39 Ford than I could ever have in the vault of the Chase Manhattan Bank.”
41. Severine Sevigny (Catherine Deneuve) in Belle du Jour (1967) A whole new world opens up to Severine, a repressed housewife married to a doctor when she decides to spend her midweek afternoons as a prostitute. While she can not seem to find any pleasure or intimacy with her husband, she blossoms in the brothel run by Madame Anais (Geneviève Page) and adopts a persona that can experiment with her secret desires of being dominated, her sexual appetites flourish during the day, when often she runs into more rough clients. But, sexual freedom has a price and ultimately, a relationship with a volatile and possessive John (Pierre Clémenti) could prove to be dangerous. Severine breaks free of the confines of convention, like marriage, and explores a provocative even deviant kind of sexual behavior. She allows herself to go further and explore the most secret desires by indulging them, it is quite adventurous and risky and Deneuve masters it with a transcendent elegance. Madame Anais: “I have an idea. Would you like to be called “Belle de Jour?” Séverine Serizy: “Belle de Jour?” Madame Anais: “Since you only come in the afternoons.” Séverine Serizy: “If you wish.”
The Bride Wore Black 1968: Jeanne Moreau… Goddess of the Hunt
42. Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau) in The Bride Wore Black (1968) Julie Kohler is on a mission of revenge for the men who accidentally shot her husband on their wedding day outside the church. It was a short marriage… Julie finds a maniacal almost macabre sort of presentation to her theater of revenge, she moves through the film with the ease of a scorpion. But there’s dark humor and irony (in François Truffaut’s homage to Hitchcock) running through the narrative. Like a good mystery thriller, it utilizes very classic iconographic motifs. Julie is a captivating figure of sadness and passion put out at the height of its flame. Once passion for her late husband, and now passion for revenge. It’s playful and sexy and Moreau is utterly brilliant as the resourceful Julie Kolher who creates a satirically dire & elaborate, slightly Grande Guignol adventure of a vengeful woman on a crusade to exact poetic justice where the system has failed. Coral: “Permit me to make an impossible wish?” Julie Kohler: “Why impossible?” Coral: “Because I’m a rather pessimist.” Julie Kohler: “I’ve heard it said: “There are no optimists or pessimists. There are only happy idiots or unhappy ones”. — Julie-“It’s not a mission. It’s work. It’s something I must do” Priest–“Give it up”
Julie–“That’s impossible, I must continue til it’s over”
Priest–“Have you had no remorse in your heart?… don’t you fear for your soul?”
Julie-“NO… no remorse, nor fear.”
Priest-“You know you’ll be caught in the end”
Julie-“The justice of men is powerless to punish, I’m already dead. I stopped living the moment David died. I’ll join David after I’ve had my revenge.”
43. Alraune ten Brink -Brigitte Helm as Alraune 1928. A daughter of destiny! Created by Professor Jakob ten Brinken (Paul Wegener) Alraune is a variation on the Shelley story about a man and his womb envy- which impels him to create a humanoid figure from unorthodox methods. A creation who does not possess a soul. He dared to violate nature when he experiments with the seed (sperm) of a hanged man and the egg of a prostitute. Much like James Whale’s Frankenstein who sought the secrets of life, Alraune is essentially a dangerous female whose origin is seeded from this socially constructed ‘deviance’ of the hanged criminal and the whore (the film proposes that a whore is evil- I do not) Mixing the essence of sin with the magical mandrake root by alchemist ten Brinken he is seeking the answer to the question of an individual’s humanity and whether it be a product of nature or nurture. Alraune stumbles onto the truth about her origin when she reads the scientist’s diary… What could be more powerful than a woman who isn’t born with the sense of socially ordered morality imposed or innate? Is she not the perfect femme fatale without a conscience, yet… A woman who knows she is doomed to a life without a soul, she runs away with her creator’s love-sick nephew, leaving Professor ten Brinken, father figure, and keeper- alone.
44. Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) in Night of the Hunter (1955) – “I’ve never been in style, so I can never go out of style.” Lillian Gish. There are certain images that will remain with you long after seeing masterpieces like Night of the Hunter. Aside from Harry Powell and Mitchum’s frightening portrayal of an opportunistic sociopath, beyond the horror of what he is, the film is like a childhood fairy tale. It’s a cautionary tale about the boogeyman but it’s also a story about the resilient spirit and far-reaching imagination of children. And those who are the guardian angels of the world. One of the most calming and fortifying images- is that of Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) protecting the children from harm, holding the rifle, and keeping watch like a wonderful fairy godmother elected by fate to guard those little ones with her powerful brand of love… There’s just something about Gish’s graceful light that emanates from within and the character she manifests in the righteous Rachel Cooper…. Rachel Cooper: “It’s a hard world for little things.”
The Dark Corner: Private Detective Noir: Mark Stevens-Lucille Ball-Clifton Webb-William Bendix “for 6 bits you’d hang your mother on a meathook”
45. Kathleen Stewart- (Lucille Ball) in The Dark Corner (1956) Kathleen Stewart is the always faithful and trustworthy secretary of private investigator Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens) She’s the right amount of snarky and just a sexy bundle of smarts… Kathleen just won’t quit her boss. She knows he’s in trouble and wants to help him face it head-on. She keeps pushing Galt to open up that Bradford Galt: “You know, I think I’ll fire you and get me a Tahitian secretary.” Kathleen Stewart: “You won’t like them; those grass skirts are a fire hazard.” , of his and let her help. Once she’s in on the intrigue, she’s right there with him, putting her secretarial skills aside and getting into the fray with her love interest/boss. She shows no fear or hesitation, doesn’t look down on Galt’s past, and is quite a versatile sidekick who really helps him out of a dangerous setup! She’s that other sort of film noir heroine Not quite the ‘good girl’ nor a femme fatale. A strong sassy woman who doesn’t shy away from danger and when she’s in… She’s in it ‘ steel-safe “heart” .’ And say… isn’t that empowering!. Kathleen tells it like it is, sure she dotes on the down-and-out guy and is the strong shoulder to lean on, whenever things get frenzied or rough. Doesn’t make her a sap, it makes her a good friend and companion! for keeps Kathleen: “I haven’t worked for you very long, Mr. Galt, but I know when you’re pitching a curve at me, and I always carry a catcher’s mitt.” Bradford Galt: “No offense. A guy’s got to score, doesn’t he?” Kathleen: “Not in my league. I don’t play for score, I play for keeps.”
46. Lady Lu (Mae West) in She Done Him Wrong (1933) In the Gay Nineties, Lady Lu is a voluptuous nightclub owner/singer (she sings-A Guy What Takes His Time) who has men falling all over themselves. One is her ex-lover who just escaped from prison, and a few waiting in the wings. Lu is interested in the handsome Captain Cummings (Cary Grant) who runs the temperance league across the way. Lady Lu loves to be bathed in and dazzled by diamonds, lots of diamonds. But Lu is also determined to seduce missionary Cary Grant… who is more interested in her soul than in her body-Marvelous Mae tells him- Mae had a hand in creating the woman who didn’t give a damn! She gave us the immortal line… “Maybe I ain’t got no soul.” “Come up’n see me some time. I’m home every evenin’–“ Lady Lou: “Listen when women go wrong, men go right after them.” Captain Cummings: “Well, surely you don’t mind my holding your hand?” Lady Lou: “It ain’t heavy – I can hold it myself.”
47. Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) in Diabolique (1955) Simone Signoret is a torrent of sensuality (Room at the Top 1959, Ship of Fools 1965) Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot) plays the wife of a sadistic husband Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse) the controlling headmaster at their boarding school for boys. Nicole is the mistress of the cruel Michel, who has formed a special bond with Christina. Nicole incites the timid and weak woman to kill the bastard by drowning him in a bathtub and dumping his body in the school’s unused mucky swimming pool. Nicole is determined and forceful in her mission to rid Christine of this abusive beast and the two women go through with the plan. .” In short, the pool is drained, and the body isn’t there. And then there are numerous eerie sightings of the dead man which eventually drives the murderesses into a panic… Is Nicole in on an even more nefarious scheme to drive Christina crazy? For now, the main focus is how Nicole summons a thuggish type of power that is riveting. What’s remarkable about the film, aside from Clouzot’s incredible construction of a perfectly unwinding suspense tale, Signoret’s performance exudes grit and an unrelenting audaciousness. Nicole. Nicole Horner: [to Christina] “I won’t have any regrets Christina Delassalle: “Don’t you believe in Hell?” Nicole Horner: “Not since I was seven.”
48 Mia Farrow is Rosemary Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby 1968.
48. Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) in Rosemary’s Baby 1968. Rosemary has a fearless defiance in an ordinary world that becomes an unsafe space and a deep well of paranoia. Beyond guarding her body and motherhood against all intruders, Rosemary has an open mind, and a delicate brand of kindness although troubled by a catholic upbringing that haunts her, she is still ‘too good’ and too independent to taint. And she winds up taking her life and the life of her baby on her own terms. No one could have manifested the spirit of Rosemary Woodhouse like Mia Farrow. It’s an indomitable image of striking resiliency. A heroine who braves an entire secretive cult of devil worshipers entrenched in the high society of NYC. That takes a lot of guts people!… Ruth Gordon as well personifies a meddling old New York busybody who just happens to be a modern-day witch. Minnie Castavet also does what she wants -as she is empowered with her quirky style and her beliefs, as wicked as they may be…And her wardrobe is bold, kitschy, and fabulous! Rosemary Woodhouse: “Pain, begone, I will have no more of thee!”
49. Alexandra Del Lago (Geraldine Page) in Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) Alexandra Del Lago is a decadent, soaked in boozed, and fading film star who is picked up by a drifter by Chance Wayne (Paul Newman) for a tumble in the sheets. He’s been trying to break into the film biz for years, and hoping that Alexandra can help him get a screen test. He also wants to be reunited with his old flame Heavenly Finley (Shirley Knight). The roles that Geraldine Page would often take were filled with an intellect that transcends the strong female archetype. As Alexandra, she has a unique sort of cynical romanticism that exudes, a bit of alienation, a touch of longing, and a penetrating intensity. She might be a washed-up film star but she’s also a philosopher with a grasp of vocalizing the ironies and tragedies of life. She wants to drown her sorrows in liquor so she can escape from the pain of her life, and the uncertainty the future holds. But within that internal tumult is the soul of a great lady. Narcissistic, world-weary, and a spirit stoked by those heartaches. Chance Wayne: “I had my picture on the cover of Life magazine!… And at the same time, I was… employing my other talent, lovemaking.” Alexandra Del Lago: “That may be the only talent you were ever truly meant for.”
50. Anna Lucasta (Eartha Kitt) (1958) Young Anna is rejected by her sanctimonious father Joe played to the hilt by Rex Ingram. While the rest of the family wants Anna to come home, her self-righteous father can’t resist demonizing his daughter, with an underlying incestuous desire that he is battling. Anna takes the cliched road of the fallen woman and becomes a good-time gal who meets Danny (Sammy Davis Jr.) a cab-driving sailor who is as smooth as silk and as fiery as molten lead. Though there is an underlying sadness because of the estrangement with her father, Anna possesses a strong sense of self, and exudes a fiery passion that cannot be denied… She isn’t a bad girl, she had to find her own way and again, it often leads to taking control of who you love and how you love. She and Sammy have a smoking hot chemistry on screen, and Kitt is just powerful as a woman who made that road her own… Danny- “Tell her who Papa is” (speaking about the little carved wooden Haitian idol he’s given her) Lester – “That’s the model of Agwé the Haitian god of the sea. Seems he’s good to sailors” Anna- “Looks like Papa and me’s got something in common…” https://thelastdrivein.com/2011/01/05/phantom-ladyforgotten-cerebral-noir/
51. Carol Richman (Ella Raines) in Phantom Lady 1944 Carol Richman risks her life to try to find the elusive woman who can prove her boss (Alan Curtis) didn’t murder his wife. The unhappy guy spends a fateful evening with a woman he has picked up in a bar. He doesn’t know her name but she wears an unusual hat, which might be a clue for Carol to try and track down. Carol’s got so much guts, she puts herself in harm’s way so many times but she’s fearless just the same. Even when she meets the super creepy jazz drummer Cliff Milburn, who obviously is manic and might just be a sadist in bed, (if his drumming is any indication.) Plus there’s always the deranged sculptor Jack Marlow (Franchot Tone) who seems to be a menacing force. Cliff Milburn (Elisha Cook Jr) “You Like Jive?” Carol ‘Kansas’ Richman “You bet, I’m a hep kitten.”
52. Pam Grier is Coffy 1973 Okay okay tho I’m sneaking in past the 1970 cut-off… I’m a woman who doesn’t give a damn and nods to one of the greatest ’70s icons… Pam Grier set the pace for strong female heroines that laid the groundwork for all the others to follow… so she gets a nod from me! She plays a nurse who becomes a vigilante in order to get justice against the inner-city drug dealers who are responsible for her sister’s overdose… Coffy sets the bar high for strong female characters who wouldn’t back down, and who possessed a strength that is meteoric and a force to be reckoned with. A beautiful, resourceful, intelligent -a strikingly irrepressible image that will remain in the cultural consciousness for an eternity. Arturo Vitroni: “Crawl, n*gger!” Coffy: [pulls out gun] “You want me to crawl, white mother fucker?” Arturo Vitroni: “What’re you doing? Put that down.” Coffy: “You want to spit on me and make me crawl? I’m gonna piss on your grave tomorrow.”
53. Charlie (Teresa Wright), in Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Charlie is tired of small-town life with her parents and annoying younger sister. She’s a girl starved for new adventures, longing for something exciting to happen, to stir up her life. Careful what you wish for… She’s overwhelmed with joy when her beloved Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) decides to pay the family a visit. But something isn’t quite right with her idol, he begins to exhibit a strange sort of underlying hostility and troubling secret nature… Her mother’s (Patricia Collinge) younger brother is actually a sadistic serial killer who preys on rich widows by marrying them, then strangling them! He’s so charming and charismatic that women can’t help being drawn to him. But young Charlie begins to see through his facade. Why would he cut out the news headline in the paper about a murderer who kills rich women? It all begins to take shape, and unfortunately, Uncle Charlie can’t afford to have his favorite niece spill the beans. What’s remarkable about young Charlie is that for a girl who fantasizes and indulges herself in things of a more romantic nature, she’s pretty darn brave in the self-preservation department since no one else in the family believes her suspicions that he’s The Merry Widow killer. And she might just have to go rogue and wind up killing him in self-defense… Young Charlie: “Go away, I’m warning you. Go away or I’ll kill you myself. See… that’s the way I feel about you.”
Constance Towers & Virginia Gray.
Sam Fuller’s The Naked Kiss (1965): Part I: “There’ll be no later, this town is clean”
54. Kelly (Constance Towers) in The Naked Kiss (1964) The opening of the film is one of the most audacious entrances in early exploitation cinema, as Kelly confronts her pimp who has shaved off her hair and stolen her money. Kelly brutally pummels the rat with her handbag. Stripped of her hair she looks like a mannequin signifying her as the ‘object’ She is introduced to us from the opening of the narrative as a fighter. Kelly manages to fit into the quaint new town of Granville she’s made her home until the perverse true nature of Granville’s benefactor is exposed. Grant (Michael Dante) possesses a dark secret that Kelly stumbles into and ultimately explodes into scandal. The story is a minefield of social criticisms and hypocrisy that allow Kelly to rise above her persecution by the local cop Griff (Anthony Eisley) who isn’t averse to taking Kelly to bed himself or frequenting Madame Candy’s (Virginia Gray) high-class “cat house’ yet he’s above reproach. Griff tells Kelly it’s a clean town and he doesn’t want her operating there. But Kelly wants out of the business. She’s great with disabled children at the hospital and just wants a fresh start. Until she exposes the truly deviant secret about Grant and winds up accused of his murder. Kelly initially walks the fine line of being the ‘whore’ of the story, the one who needs redemption only to have the narrative flip it around and more importantly it’s the town that must be redeemed because of it is jaundiced complacency from the long-kept secrets of the wealthy Patriarchal family that owns and run it. Kelly is a powerful protagonist because she kicks down the door of hypocrisy and judgment. Kelly also shatters the limitations that are placed on women. There exists a displaced female rage that started to become articulated later on with ‘feminist parable’ films during the late 60s and 70s. In the end, she no longer is labeled or objectified, or persecuted. She is embraced as a savior. Kelly’s got a reserve of strength and a great sense of self. To me, she ends up being a heroine who rather than redeems herself becomes the catalyst for cleansing the ‘white middle-class’ town of its hypocrisy… Kelly (talking to Capt. Griff Anthony Eisley)“I washed my face clean the morning I woke up in your bedroom!”
Grande Dame/Guignol Cinema: Robert Aldrich’s Hag Cinema Part V: Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte “You’re my favorite living mystery” “Have you ever solved me?”
55. Velma (Agnes Moorehead) in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) Velma is Charlotte’s trusted companion. She shows a lot of gumption when Cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland) shows up trying to gaslight poor Charlotte who’s suffered enough at the grotesque and tawdry way she lost her fiancee, and how she lived under the oppressive thumb of her father (Victor Buono). Velma wasn’t nary shy a bit to face off with Cousin Miriam, that intimidating gold-digging she-devil in Park Avenue clothes. (From de Havilland’s own wardrobe) Velma always says it like it is, and tries to be a trusted friend to Charlotte even when the whole town shuns her as a crazy axe murderess. We all need friends who would either help you hide the body, or at least defend you against an accusing mob… either way. I’m pretty sure Velma could have taken Miriam if she didn’t have Joseph Cotton’s help on her side… And we can’t forget Mary Astor’s firebrand performance as Jewel Mayhew… Velma Cruther talking to Cousin Miriam: Jewel Mayhew: “Well, right here on the public street, in the light of day, let me tell you, Miriam Deering, that murder starts in the heart, and its first weapon is a vicious tongue.”– “O you’re finally showin’ the right side of your face. Well, I seen it all along. That’s some kinda drug you have been givin’ her. Isn’t it? It’s what’s been making her act like she’s been. Well, Ah’m goin’ into town and Ah’m tellin’ them what you have been up to.”
56. Jean Seberg is Lilith 1964 Jean Seberg is the mysterious Lilith, a sylph-like girl who inhabits the world of a more progressive sanitarium for the wealthy, luring everyone around her into her sensual and mystifying space. Both Vincent Bruce (Warren Beatty) and Stephen Evshevsky (Peter Fonda) fall under her spell. Lilith, schizophrenic hyper-sexual, slinks around the sanitarium like a lithe spider queen weaving golden threads in her wake, and captivating anyone caught in her beautiful web. The opening titles even suggest her as predatory by the use of graphic webs with a butterfly caught in its design. Lilith dwells in an imaginary world with her own language and in favor of unseen gods. She should have tendrils of golden locks that wisp just slightly over her wanting lips. Mad or not, Lilith is a beautiful creature that doesn’t belong in a confined world. Does Lilith’s journey only become self-destructive or dangerous to other people when her spirit is restricted, trapped like a feral cat who doesn’t want to be tamed? “to leave the mark of her desire on every living creature.” – “ Lilith Arthur: “You’ve killed with these hands. Why?” Vincent Bruce: “That’s the business of a soldier.” Lilith Arthur: “You must love your God a lot to kill for him and still go on loving him. I’d never ask that of a lover. I’d only ask for his joy.” – Dr. Bea Brice (Kim Hunter) Somehow insanity seems a lot less sinister to watch in a man than a woman.” –
4 Outstanding Actresses: It’s 1964 and there’s cognitive commotion!
57. Sinister Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) in Rebecca (1940) A Gothic cautionary tale that warns if you’re the second wife, make darn sure that your husband doesn’t have an ominous housekeeper who holds a macabre obsession with the dead first wife. When Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine) marries Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) she becomes wife number two. Apparently, the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers makes it quite clear that there is only one Mrs de Winter-Rebecca… a woman she is most obviously in love with and worships even after death. Blatantly making poor Joan feel as if she’s stepped into a nightmare, in the shadow of the first great wife who was beautiful and refined. Mrs Danvers parades her mistress’s beautiful clothes and undergarments fondling them just to torture the young bride. Even the dour look on her face reveals that she doesn’t give a damn about anything but the first Mrs de Winter and quite frankly Dame Judith Anderson pulls it off masterfully! another verbal lashing by Mrs. Mrs. Danvers: [as the second Mrs. de Winter runs into the room] “I watched you go down the stairs just as I watched her a year ago. Even in the same dress, you couldn’t compare.” The Second Mrs. de Winter: “You knew it! You knew that she wore it, and yet you deliberately suggested I wear it. Why do you hate me? What have I done to you that you should ever hate me so?” Mrs. Danvers: “You tried to take her place. You let him marry you. I’ve seen his face – his eyes. They’re the same as those first weeks after she died. I used to listen to him, walking up and down, up and down, all night long, night after night, thinking of her, suffering torture because he lost her!”– Danvers: “Oh, you’ve moved her brush, haven’t you? [moves it slightly]… There, that’s better. Just as she always laid it down. ‘Come on, Danny, hair drill,’ she would say. [picks up the brush and goes through the motions of combing the second Mrs. De Winter’s hair, without actually touching it]… And I’d stand behind her like this and brush away for twenty minutes at a time. [lays down the brush and looks at the portrait of Maxim]… Then she would say, ‘Good night, Danny,’ and step into her bed.” https://thelastdrivein.com/2020/10/01/chapter-4-queers-and-dykes-in-the-dark-classic-noir-horror-cinemas-coded-gay-characters/
Dame Judith Anderson as the diabolic Mrs. Danvers.
58. Varla -Tura Satana in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) with Haji & Lori Williams. Russ Meyer’s exploitation film to end all campy exploitation films… What works for this trashy treasure is Tura Satana who was a purely powerful figure in the 60s. It’s one of the ultimate 60s cult films of empowered and female boldness… Three go-go dancers with mouths like truck drivers and a sense of adventure go out to the desert to race their sports car. They meet a young couple, and Varla challenges Tommy (Ray Barlow) to a race. He gets killed in the crash and the aggressive go-go dancers kidnap his girlfriend. They also run into a family of psychopaths who are sexual sadists, BUT these women can totally handle themselves and fight their way out of any nightmare situation. Tommy: “Look, I don’t know what the hell your point is, but…” Varla: “The point is of no return and you’ve reached it!”
59. Daisy Stevens (Jean Harlow the blonde bombshell) in Beast of the City (1932) Daisy Stevens is a hard-edge gang moll. Here’s a shot from the standout scene where she’s on the lineup. She’s a sexy sassy dame and a mantrap for Wallace Ford. I mean look at the beautiful mug and tell me she gives a flying fig! — Det. Ed Fitzpatrick (Wallace Ford): Daisy Stevens, [Laying down on a bed seductively] “I don’t mind taking orders, but there’s one decision that’s always up to me.” [Ed steps between Daisy and her front door] “Don’t kick me in the shin, or I’ll smack your face!” Daisy Stevens “All right, copper.” Det. Ed Fitzpatrick: “How’d you come to think that one up?” Daisy Stevens, “Aw, you’ve got Headquarters written all over yuh!” Det. Ed Fitzpatrick: “Smart girl, huh?” Daisy “Yeah, and I never got past the eighth grade.” Det. Ed Fitzpatrick: “Well, maybe you’re bright enough to answer a few questions.” Daisy “Sure, if you don’t ask them in Yiddish!” https://thelastdrivein.com/2017/04/25/beautiful-poison-jean-simmons-in-angel-face-1953-gene-tierney-in-leave-her-to-heaven-1945/
60. Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) in Leave her to Heaven (1945) Ellen is a sociopath willing to do anything it takes to clear the way for Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde.) Anything, like letting her crippled brother-in-law drown in the lake. And if the baby is going to wind up taking even the smallest amount of his affections away from you, hell, just throw yourself down the stairs. Part guts and part nuts, Ellen is a woman who didn’t give a damn about the questions of morality, conscience, or consequence… Usually dreamy and too genteel to be seen as a homicidal powder keg, Tierney truly earns the stripes to be called a ‘dangerous woman’ and I don’t mean in a seductive, lead you down the wrong pathway. Extraordinary composure lends an extra element of fear to Ellen’s persona. Mrs. Berent Ellen’s mother (Mary Phillips): “There’s nothing wrong with Ellen. It’s just that she loves too much.”
61. Kathy Allen (Arlene Dahl) Wicked as they Come (1956) Growing up in the hard streets, Kathy wants out, and will do what it takes to move up in the world and taste the finer things. She’s not an evil woman, but she sure wants to wash the taste of dish soap and cheap beer out of her hair. So she rigs a beauty contest, makes her way to England, bamboozles a very high-strung English man out of his fortune… Meets Phil Carey on the plane with whom she truly has genuine chemistry, but chooses to keep climbing that ladder ’til it leads her to be accused of shooting her wealthy husband Herbert Marshall when she was set up for revenge by the jilted Englishman… Kathleen ‘Kathy’ Allen- “You tried to buy me. Both of you, with the contest. You men just don’t like it do you, when your dirty game is played back.”
62. Mrs. Frankie Neall (Marie Windsor) in The Narrow Margin (1952) There have been a lot of femme fatales in film noir, and sometimes it’s nice to pay tribute to the dames who were more offbeat, quirky & just as captivating. Frankie Neall is a tough lady. She’s a mobster’s wife who decides to turn states evidence and testify against him. She goes undercover riding on a train so she can make it to the trial safely. She’s escorted by Det. Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) the only hitch is that the mob is on the train too! Look at her composure. Frankie maintains a sexy cool under pressure— a kind of “who gives a damn I’m in a dangerous spot but it doesn’t ruffle me any.” She’s got guts. Walter Brown: Mrs. Neall: “Sister, I’ve known some pretty hard cases in my time; you make ’em all look like putty. You’re not talking about a sack of gumdrops that’s gonna be smashed – you’re talking about a dame’s life! You may think it’s a funny idea for a woman with a kid to stop a bullet for you, only I’m not laughing!” Walter Brown: “Where do you get off, being so superior? Why shouldn’t I take advantage of her – I want to live! If you had to step on someone to get something you wanted real bad, would you think twice about it?” Walter Brown: “Shut up!” Mrs. Neall: “Not till I tell you something, you cheap badge-pusher! When we started on this safari, you made it plenty clear I was just a job, and no joy in it, remember?” Mrs. Neall: “Yeah, and it still goes, double!” Walter Brown: “Okay, keep it that way. I don’t care whether you dreamed up this gag or not; you’re going right along with it, so don’t go soft on me. And once you handed out a line about poor Forbes getting killed, ’cause it was his duty. Well, it’s your duty too! Even if this dame gets murdered.” “You make me sick to my stomach. Mrs. Neall: “Well, use your own sink. And let me know when the target practice starts!”
63. Eve Kendall -Eva Marie Saint North by Northwest 1959 Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill an Ad Exec who is a victim of mistaken identity by a spy ring. Trying to get free of the intrigue he is then framed for murder. Nothing is what it seems in this Hitchcock thriller. Not even Eve who he meets on a train headed for Chicago, helps him evade the authorities. From the dialogue, it seems like the two have sex that night though it’s only implied. Eve is a resourceful woman who can hang in there in any dangerous situation without a whimper, a scream, or a broken high heel. She’d even hang from the top of Mount Rushmore if it meant saving her skin and Rogers… Now that’s brave. Eva Marie Saint’s Eve Kendall, is a woman who uses sex, as Thornhill puts it, “the way some people use a flyswatter.” Kendall: “I’m a big girl.” Thornhill: “Yeah, and in all the right places.” she KISSES him ) Roger Thornhill: The moment I meet an attractive woman, I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her.” Eve Kendall: “What makes you think you have to conceal it?” Roger Thornhill: “She might find the idea objectionable.” Eve Kendall: “Then again, she might not.” Roger Thornhill: “When I was a little boy, I wouldn’t even let my mother undress me.” Eve Kendall: “Well, you’re a big boy now.”
64. Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly), Rear Window (1954) Lisa is too sexy, too refined, and too smart not to indulge her boyfriend journalist L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies (James Stewart) who laid up in a wheelchair playing at back alley peeping tom, witnesses a murder and thinks she’s too rich & frivolous. But she is not so squeamish that she is opposed to leaping tall brick buildings where a grisly murder has taken place. Even when she believes that across the way neighbor has hacked up his wife and placed the parts in suitcases headed for upstate NY. She’s also not afraid of breaking and entering to get the darn proof! Lisa is a girl with beauty, brains, class, and courage. She knows what she wants. And she’s not spoiled, she enjoys her life and is quite giving… Oh if only I were Jimmy Stewart in that wheelchair when she comes in for that smokin’ close-up kiss…. Special nod to Thelma Ritter as Stella Jeff’s spirited nurse Lisa: “I’m not much on rear window ethics.” Lisa: “What’s he doing? Cleaning house?” Jeff: “He’s washing and scrubbing down the bathroom walls.” Stella: “Must’ve splattered a lot.” [both Jeff and Lisa look at Stella with a bit queasy] … Come on, that’s what we’re all thinkin’. He killed her in there, now he has to clean up those stains before he leaves.” Lisa: “Stella… your choice of words!” Stella: “Nobody ever invented a polite word for a killin’ yet.”
65. Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard), My Man Godfrey (1936) In this social satire, Irene is a kind-hearted, spoiled, and willful society girl during the Depression era 30s. Irene is a flaky socialite who during a contest to see who can find a forgotten man and bring him back to show off at the party. Of course, the roles are reversed and Godfrey has a oodles of class, while the rest of the idle wealthy are shown as idiots. She tracks down a skid row bum (William Powell) and hires him to be the butler Godfrey! The flighty Irene is really taken with Godfrey Parke’s charismatic personality. The family however is stunned to find out something else about the charming man. Both the character Irene and Carole Lombard have a delicious kind of sex appeal. A genuine likability and a brilliant sense of timing. Irene: “You have a wonderful sense of humor. I wish I had a sense of humor, but I can never think of the right thing to say until everybody’s gone home.”
66. Barbara Steel as Gloria Morin in Fellini’s 8 1/2 ((1963) Steel moves and creates the groovy style at the Ball, which inspires Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994) Art inspires art…
67. Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) In A Lonely Place (1950) Dixon Steel (Humphrey Bogart) is a screenwriter with a volatile temper. When he has Mildred Atkinson over to read him an idea for a film, later that night she is murdered. And Steele becomes the main suspect. Steele bucks the system, wisecracks inappropriately, and acts generally belligerent. He is a man that is struggling with a monkey on his back. Enter Gloria Grahame as Laurel Gray who lives across the way in another apartment house where she has a perfect view inside his apartment. She tries to alibi Dix as she has fallen for the guy, but his moods and his behavior push her farther away. Nobody owns Grahame or the characters she’s played. Laurel is an independent woman who won’t take abuse or confusion in her life. Even if she’s in love… it ain’t enough… She’s tough alright and her style is not overtly snarky it has just the right tenor! Dixon Steele: “You know, you’re out of your mind – how can anyone like a face like this? Look at it…” [he leans in for a kiss] Laurel Gray: “I said I liked it – I didn’t say I wanted to kiss it.” https://thelastdrivein.com/2020/08/11/the-big-violence-of-fritz-langs-the-big-heat-1953/
68 Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame) The Big Heat (1953) Debby Marsh is the spurned gangster’s girlfriend turned sidekick to Detective Dave Banning (Glenn Ford.) Banning has been on the trail of a vicious gang of criminals he thinks might have infiltrated the police force. He winds up wanting revenge when the bomb meant for him kills his wife. Debby helps Bannion set a trap for Vince Stone and winds up getting acid thrown in her face. She is scarred for life. But she’s got a fighter’s spirit in her. Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) “Hey that’s a nice perfume. Debby March- “Something new. It attracts mosquitos and repels men.”– Debby Marsh (eyeing the seedy hotel room) “Hey, I like this. Early nothing.”– Debby Marsh- “A scar isn’t so bad. not if it’s only on one side. I can always go through life sideways.”
69. Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak) & Aunt Queenie Holroyd (Elsa Lanchester) are the beautiful and beguiling witches of Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) Delightful, seductive, powerful, literally ‘charming’ and intoxicating these women knew how to cast a spell— not to wreak havoc but to manifest a little mischief and stir up a little romance with the stubborn Shep Henderson (James Stewart). Gillian has to get Shep’s fiancee Merle Kittridge (Janice Rule) out of the way or as Shep tries to put it , then she has to cast an enchantment on him! Plus she has a Siamese cat named Pyewacket who is familiar. The attraction might have started as a spell but the result is real love…! And that’s wholly empowering… ‘un-coupling’ Queenie: I sit in the subway sometimes, on buses, or the movies, and I look at the people next to me and I think…”What would you say if I told you I was a witch?”
Elsa Lanchester as Aunt Queenie in Bell, Book and Candle 1958.
Séance on a Wet Afternoon 1964: A Conspiracy of Madness Part II- “They’re really quite adaptable, children. They’re like… little animals.”
70 Myra Savage (Kim Stanley) Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) Myra has grown up believing that she can communicate with the dead, a professed spiritual medium who truly believes she’s the ‘real thing.’ She holds weekly Wednesday afternoon séances in her London home. When she seeks to attain more notoriety for her ‘gift’ she convinces her downtrodden husband Billy (Richard Attenborough) to abduct a little girl from a wealthy home, so she can then insinuate herself into the investigation to help the couple find their little girl and thereby proving she has a powerful gift of second sight. Stanley is extraordinary from her body language to her slow-building mania. She is so driven by this narcissistic need to be worshiped because of her childhood upbringing which she explains to Billy so hauntingly eloquent and revealing. Myra has also suffered the loss of their little boy- a drawing agony that she masks by asserting that she still speaks to him every day. Watching Myra plan out each detail of the kidnapping and her control over Billy’s devotion to her, it’s a powerful, disturbing performance, an empowered woman, who loses her way and wields it in the wrong direction… Myra rationalizes the kidnapping by spurting out her convoluted logic about children being like animals in a pet shop who will adjust happily to their new environment. Myra Savage: “You know what I sometimes wish? I sometimes wish I *were*… ordinary. Like you. Dead ordinary. Ordinary and *dead* like all the others.”
71. Gilda Carson-Erickson (Dorothy Mackaill) Safe in Hell (1931 pre-code) Gilda is a complex cigarette-smoking call girl who is laid back about her status as a working girl. When a friend calls her up to meet a guy whose wife is out of town she tells her hen Gilda is accused of murdering the man who rapes her, she flees New Orleans and seeks refuge in the Caribbean. But even there she is surrounded and must fend off criminals and sleaze balls especially the local police chief who threatens her freedom. On and off the screen actress Dorothy Mackaill pushed against the boundaries of virtue and stirred up a lot of social incorrectness.
A fan magazine quoted her as having said “Okay, I’ll go right into my dance.” W “Who has the good times, the swell clothes, the excitements… We do! And not because we’re portrayed as nice girls, no! Because we’re smoking, drinking, dancing, and being made love to.”
72. Sugar Kane Kowalczk (Marilyn Monroe) in Some Like It Hot 1959 -More than just bubbling sensuality, Monroe is as delicious and lovable as Sugar. When Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a mob hit, they go on the run and hide out by dressing in drag and joining an all-female band. There they meet the lovable Sugar Kane Kowalczyk who sings and plays the ukulele! Sugar’s memorable song is “I wanna be loved by you, just you, nobody else but you. I wanna be loved by you alo-o-one. Boop boop e doo.” Sugar says to Joe (Tony Curtis in drag) “That’s what I’m running away from I worked for six different ones in the last two years. Oh brother….( chopping ice in the sink) Joe says ‘Rough” She says “I’ll say” Joe-‘You can’t trust ’em” Sugar “I can’t trust myself. I have this thing about saxophone players, Especially Tenor Sax” Really?” Sugar-“I don’t know what it is. They just curdle me. All they have to do is play eight bars of ‘come to me my melancholy baby and my spine turns to custard, I get goose pimply all over, and they’d count ’em.” Joe-“That’s how?” Sugar “Every time…” Joe tells her-“You know I play Tenor sax” Sugar “Yeah but you’re a girl thank goodness… that’s why I joined this band. Safety first, anything to get away from those bums… You don’t know what they’re like. You fall for them, you really love them, you think this it’s gonna be the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin the next thing you know they’re borrowing money from you, they’re spending it on other dames and betting on horses. (Chop chop chop) Then one morning you wake up, the guys gone, the saxophone’s gone all that’s left behind is a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste all squeezed out So you pull yourself together. You go onto the next job and the next saxophone player it’s the same thing all over again…. See what I mean?”
73. June Buckridge /Sister George (Beryl Reid) in The Killing of Sister George 1968. Robert Aldrich loves his collections of misfits and outliers of society. It’s a frank and uncomfortably funny story. Accompanied by Suzannah York as her lover, Childie and Coral Browne. George is hilarious and sad as she struggles to blend her personal life with the crumbling state of her successful acting career and the drinking problem that makes her a belligerent bully. George is a beloved BBC soap opera star bicycling Sister George who they are killing off in the next season. She is a closet lesbian in a relationship with a much younger woman Alice ‘Childie’ McNaught, who dresses in baby doll clothes. Until BBC executive Mercy Croft (Coral Browne) comes sniffing around and has a strange fixation on George’s girlfriend ‘Childie’ herself… This is an emotionally brutal and brave statement about being a lesbian in the 60s. During a time when being queer in a cinema meant that they were either coded spinsters, disturbed, self-loathing, monstrous, perverted, and/or worthy of either suicide or violence. Reid as June as Sister George is hilarious as well as tragic as the film examines the life of an older woman in show business who lives in a private hell of her own making. Mercy Croft has an aloof sophistication that allows her to disguise her own lesbian desires without drawing attention to herself. Mercy Croft: “People are always telling me how cheerful you look, riding around on your bike.” George: “Well, you’d look cheerful too with fifty cubic centimeters throbbing away between your legs!” Alice “Childie”: “Not all women are raving bloody lesbians, you know.” George: “That is a misfortune I am perfectly well aware of!”
74. Auntie Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell) in Auntie Mame (1958) The biggest word that can describe Mame Dennis is ‘unconventional’ a socialite with a non-conformist will to live life to the fullest. In the midst of the roaring 20s she has been chosen as her nephew Patrick’s guardian and to raise him for her brother who has died. Though Patrick’s father has assigned an executor to the will in order to safeguard Mame’s wild influence on the boy. Regardless of the precautions laid out for Patrick, he and Mame develop a bond that is so beautiful, as he journeys with her and her crazy, wild, and perhaps a bit decadent always adventurous ways! Mame Dennis: “Well, now, uh, read me all the words you don’t understand.” Patrick Dennis: “Libido, inferiority complex, stinko, blotto, free love, bathtub gin, monkey glands, Karl Marx… is he one of the Marx Brothers? …Neurotic, heterosexual…” Mame Dennis: “Oh, my my my my, what an eager little mind. [takes the list] … You won’t need some of these words for months and months.” 75. Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) Bonnie & Clyde (1967) Bonnie and Clyde rob banks, and she loves to hold those guns… ‘The story of Bonnie Parker smoking a cigar is accurate. She did it as a joke. But after the shootout at the bungalow in Joplin, MO, police found the photos the gang had taken and published the photo of Bonnie, thereby leading to her unearned rep as a … She’s fearless and loves danger. Dunaway also set a fashion trend thanks to Theoni Van Runkle… transcending her on-screen persona and inspiring a style that women wanted to emulate! Bonnie Parker: [to Clyde] “Cigar Smokin’ Gun Moll” You’re just like your brother. Ignorant, uneducated hillbilly, except the only special thing about you, is your peculiar ideas about love-making, which is no love-making at all.
76. Nell Bowen (Anna Lee) in Bedlam (1946) Mistress Bowen has no fear of the cunning and sadistic Master George Sims (Boris Karloff ) who imprisons her in Bedlam in order to silence her cries for reconstruction and revamping of the horrible conditions of the mental asylum. Locked away in Bedlam she grows more empowered in order to take him down… In the midst of the most horrifying loss of freedom, Mistress Nell Bowen draws strength from the will to bring justice to these people who are living a nightmare in squalor and neglect. She is committed to helping them at any cost. Nell gathered her wits and her fearless tenacity and brought Bedlam into the light of reformation… Lord Mortimer: “A capital fellow, this Sims, a capital fellow.” Nell Bowen: “If you ask me, M’Lord, he’s a stench in the nostrils, a sewer of ugliness, and a gutter brimming with slop.”
77. Sandra Kovak (Mary Astor), The Great Lie (1941) Sandra elopes with Pete (George Brent) but the marriage is invalid because he’s married already. Later he marries his former fiancée Maggie (Bette Davis) and then flies to South America and dies in a plane crash. Sandra discovers that she is pregnant with Pete’s baby but she asks Maggie to raise her child for her. As she has a career to think about… A dedicated pianist whose craft is very important to her. She must stay self-focused and dedicated to her art. Now when Pete comes back from the dead both women decide to fight for his love and the child. Bette Davis and Mary Astor thought the original script was not very good. They ended up doing massive rewrites on the script themselves. Women who didn’t give a damn in action! IMDb tidbits- At Mary Astor’s suggestion, her hair was cut into the chignon shape she wears in the film because rolling and styling it took too long. She then wore it the same but a bit longer in The Maltese Falcon (1941), causing a fashion craze. One of Mary Astor’s lines is, Eight years later Bette Davis said “Who brought me to this dump?” , one of her best-known quotes, in Beyond the Forest (1949) “What a dump!” Sandra Kovac: I’m not one of you anemic creatures who can get nourishment from a lettuce leaf – I’m a musician, I’m an artist! I have zest and appetite – and I like food!” — Sandra Kovac: “If I didn’t think you meant so well, I’d feel like slapping your face”
78. Barbarella (Jane Fonda) in Barbarella (1968) Barbarella is an action superheroine who glides into each tricky situation with an innocent and diligent mindfulness toward justice… She’s a 41st-century astronaut with the BEST wardrobe by Gloria Musetta & Paco Rabanne. Her mission is to find the mastermind Durand Durand (Milo O’ Shea) in the city of Sogo, an interplanetary Sodom & Gomorrah. Barbarella may come off as free and easy but she is anything but. In a place where new sins and ways to torture people are created every hour, including a machine that works like a pipe organ that can pleasure you to death! Barbarella does find her sexuality awakened by all this chaos, as she comes from a world where sexual contact has been reduced to popping a pill and touching hands… She must navigate this treacherous terrain and not be thwarted by the evil Durand Durand (played mischievously by Milo O’Shea), or The Great Tyrant (pulled off to a tee by the sexy Anita Pallenberg) who sleeps in a bubble-like dream chamber and is lusting after Barbarella and has an army of tiny flesh-eating dolls YIKES! The Great Tyrant: “Hello, pretty pretty.” Barbarella: “Hello…” The Great Tyrant: “Do you want to come and play with me? For someone like you, I charge nothing. You’re very pretty, Pretty-Pretty.” Barbarella: “My name isn’t pretty-pretty, it’s Barbarella.” –Barbarella calmly-“THERE’S MANY DRAMATIC SITUATIONS THAT BEGIN WITH SCREAMING!”
79. Grace Caldwell Tate (Suzanne Plushette) in A Rage to Live 1965 Grace was born with a sense of longing for sexual companionship and identified the passage of pleasure through the use of her body. And what she wanted she experienced much to the distress it causes her parents Carmen Mathews and Linden Chiles not to mention the proper townspeople. But even after Grace settles down with Sidney Tate (Bradford Dillman) she has to follow her libido where it takes her. She just can’t seem to stay away from the unsavory but sexually magnetic beast that is Roger Bannon (Ben Gazzara) It takes a lot of self-awareness and self-fulfillment to buck small-town-minded convention and grab sexual satisfaction when it follows you around like a dog who hasn’t eaten in a week. Is she willing to ruin her marriage? Well you’ll have to see the film, but I’ll tell ya, Plushette makes one hell of a believable sexually emancipated woman … for that time period… as she dares to live out her desires… Grace Caldwell: Brock Caldwell “I thought I loved him, and then I found I could feel the same way about someone else, someone different.” Grace Caldwell: (her father): “Grace, that isn’t love.” Brock Caldwell: “No. But it’s being wanted and needed and held close. It’s almost love.” Grace Caldwell: “Almost love”? You don’t have to settle for that.” Grace Caldwell: “I’m not settling.” Brock Caldwell: “I just don’t get this. You talk like a girl who’s got nothing else in her life, who nobody cares about …” “I don’t care how it sounds. When I feel that way, I can’t think of anything else. Doesn’t matter who I am or what I’m supposed to be. Nothing matters. I can’t help it.”
80. Isadora Duncan (Vanessa Redgrave), Isadora (1968) An original creative force who flitted around without a care in the world with her interpretive dance. It’s the biography of the original 1920s dancer who forever changed people’s ideas of ballet. ‘ Her nude, semi-nude, and pro-Soviet dance projects, as well as her attitudes on free love, debt, dress, and lifestyle, shocked the public of her time.’ I mean if that’s not a woman who didn’t give a damn who is! And Vanessa is just the right woman to embody that spirit… I sadora Duncan: “I’m not after my fortune. I’m after my destiny”
81. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) Though she’s only in the first thirty minutes of the film, Marion is tired of the tedium of her working-class life at the bank and of having to hide her relationship with married Sam Loomis Their secret afternoons are starting to wear on her. She steals a bank deposit worth 40,000, heads out of town (wearing black undergarments) to meet her lover Sam (John Gavin), and then switches to a white bra and panties when she decides she should give the money back all in one day… Stopping off at the Bates Motel because of the torrential rain, she pulls off the road and stays the night at this quaint out of the way… Bates Motel, with the nice young man who runs the front desk… Well, Marion was a tough gal too, and if she had seen that horrible Mrs. Bates coming at her with that butcher knife through the plastic shower curtain, she might have been able to save herself, perhaps pick up a plunger and knock the knife out of the hands of the mother who But it was a blitz attack. Still… I think Marion gets points for following her heart and taking risks, grabbing what she wants, and putting it back if she wants. She’s got a conscience and she’s a tough cookie in my book… “goes a little mad sometimes!” — Marion Crane says to Sam: “Oh, we can see each other. We can even have dinner but respectably in my house with my mother’s picture on the mantel and my sister helping me broil a big steak for three.” Norman Bates: “It’s not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?” Marion Crane: “Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough.”
82. Melanie Daniels (Tippi-Hedren) in The-Birds (1963) Melanie Daniels is no shrinking violet. She may be a relatively straightforward central protagonist – the rich spoiled girl from the big city whose complacency is then severely shattered. Melanie is still an independent woman who mostly keeps it together right up to the end. Okay, once she’s trapped in the attic she sort of goes a bit fetal but come on people the natural world is attacking! –with beaks and claws! Although viewed as a woman in peril, I’d rather take the view that her on-screen reaction in that scene was more due to the behind-the-scenes goings on when Hitchcock purposefully allowed the birds to really assail her. His hopes were of getting a more genuine fright response thanks to Hitchcock’s maneuvering to have her attacked for real. Melanie Daniels ascends into Bodega Bay like ‘the birds’, she is a warning of the dangers of strong, and non-conformist women, especially strong willed sexually free women. Are the people being attacked by just the birds and the natural world or is the strength of Melanie Daniels’s presence there a symbol of tearing apart the claustrophobic relationship between son and mother and the quiet conventional community? Mitch Brenner: “What do you want?” Melanie Daniels: “I thought you knew! I want to go through life jumping into fountains naked, good night!”
83. Cathy (Merle Oberon) Wuthering Heights (1939) In one of the greatest Gothic love stories, Kathy is sometimes cruel and cold, other times child-like with an adventurous heart big enough to embrace a wild and unkempt stable boy like Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier). Kathy possesses the ability to manifest callousness at one moment and an eternal romantic spirit underneath all that posturing. The true Cathy wants to be handed Heather gathered up on Williston Crack… Though ambivalent about her station in life, Cathy always sustained an underlying love for the wild and beautiful stable boy who could never let her go… It’s that spirit, that brutally voracious conflicted love that makes Cathy an iconic, romantic yet tragic woman … Even in death, she would command the attention of Heathcliff’s woeful heart. Cathy: Heathcliff, “Make the world stop right here. Make everything stop and stand still and never move again. Make the moors never change and you and I never change.” Heathcliff: “The moors and I will never change. Don’t you, Cathy.” Cathy: “I can’t. I can’t. No matter what I ever do or say, Heathcliff, this is me now; standing on this hill with you. This is me forever.”
84. Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr), The Innocents (1961) Miss Giddens is an uptight proper English gentle-women. But don’t be fooled, she is not easily swayed by a challenge and she’s got it in her mind the pursuit of saving her two little charges, Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens & Pamela Franklin) who might either be possessed by the spirits of two deviant lovers, the caretaker, and the former Governess or just devilishly evil children. Aside from her painfully obvious sexual repression, Miss Giddens wants to get to the bottom of the children’s uncanny behavior. Are they inherently evil and is there something more nefarious at play? She won’t be thwarted by their creepy behavior and she won’t stop until her savior complex is satiated. Will it lead to tragically grotesque results? You can’t stop a righteous woman on a mission… Miss Giddens: “But above anything else, I love the children.”
85. Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) in The Wizard of Oz 1939 I couldn’t neglect one of the all-time great heroines who fought off those scary flying monkeys. A witch is determined to kill Dorothy for the ruby slippers magically bestowed on her when her house fell on The Wicked Witch of the West’s sister. No matter what gets thrown in her path, even disappointment when she comes to learn that there’s really no great and powerful Oz -only an old man behind the curtain, Dorothy’s loving nature, and her yearning spirit to find a home -discovers the belief in herself. And Garland could convince anyone to be a champion with her character that is bursting with so much endearing talent and a voice like nobody else -lovable, honest, and courageous. Dorothy: [singing] “Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Bluebirds fly. Birds Fly Over The Rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I? If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh why can’t I?”
86. Valley of the Dolls 1967 Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins), Jennifer North (Sharon Tate), and Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke) are the women who follow their instincts for love and survival in a cruel business that can become maddening, demeaning, and cutthroat. All three intelligent and talented women do what they must to reach out for empowerment. Though they may fail, it still takes a brave woman to face a life of struggle and meet its head… Addicted to dolls, skyrocketing to fame, then reduced to a drunk screaming in an alley pulling the wig off Susan Hayward (which I heard Bette Davis did to her on the set of Where Love Has Gone ), or doing European XXX nudies so you can send your mother money for the oil burner and your sick gramps. Or becoming a top model who’s got the attention of the world and a very handsome ad exec but decides that her dignity and independence is more important than her love for Lyon Burke (Paul Burke). To walk away, to ride that train while Dionne Warwick sings that memorable theme song- Anne Welles: “You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.” Neely O’Hara: “I didn’t have dough handed to me because of my good cheekbones, I had to earn it.” Jennifer North about her boobs: “Oh, to hell with them! Let ’em droop!”
87. Karen Wright (Audrey Hepburn)The Children’s Hour (1961) Not giving a damn is when you hold your head up after a destructive scandal ruins two lives after a mean-spirited lie finds its way to the truth. Gossiping old biddies cast dispersions on Karen Wright and Martha Dobey (Shirley MacLaine) who run a girl’s boarding school after a spoiled brat retaliates by spreading a rumor. It just takes one holy brat to manipulate a moment in time and take a simple gesture of friendship and turn it into a weapon, after she espies the women saying goodnight to each other. The only problem is it might be true for one of them which bares its tragic face when the entire town turns against them. Karen doesn’t care what people think or say. Though all the parents have pulled their girls out of the school and created a scandal ruining the chances for the pair to maintain a professional connection to the community. Karen decides that she and Martha can just go someplace else. To hell with the haters, they can always open up a new school… But is it too late, has the revelation over-spilled into Martha’s mind and has the damage been done? Aside from MacLean’s incredible performance as Martha, Hepburn’s natural grace carries her through the muck and the mire of this one dangerous lie. She holds her head up high and decides that she can’t marry Dr. Joe Cardin- (James Garner) who has just the slightest ounce of doubt about her sexuality and the rumor. She’s gonna leave it all behind and not even ruffle her lovely cardigan about it. Karen- “But this isn’t a new sin they say we’ve done. Other people haven’t been destroyed by it.”
88. Nora Charles- (Myrna Loy) The Thin Man 1934 Myrna Loy is simply marvelous. Nora and her partner Nick Charles (William Powell) are sophisticated and intelligent, and what makes this team so much fun is that Nora is just as clever and capable as Nick, and often her independent-minded spirit gets things done herself. Nora urges and needles Nick to take on a new case when inventor Clyde Wynant is suspected of murdering his second wife. To Nora the idea of getting involved is thrilling! She’s Beautiful, smart, and ready to jump into the action… [Nick has revived Nora after knocking her out to keep her from being accidentally shot by Joe Morelli] Nora Charles: “You darn fool! You didn’t have to knock me out. I knew you’d take him, but I wanted to see you do it.” Lieutenant John Guild: [laughs] “There’s a girl with hair on her chest.”
89. Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich) Stage Fright 1950 Charlotte is a cold-hearted burlesque singer who might have actually committed murder. But Hitchcock will hold you in suspense until the ironic end… She’s a bit conniving and artistically ruthless and goes after what she wants. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that she would murder her husband so she could continue to see Johnathon Cooper (Richard Todd.) He is also a suspect and is now in hiding, being helped out by his trusting friend Eve (Jane Wyman.) Marlene evokes an intoxicating image of a stage goddess who is too lofty too beautiful too desirable to get her hands dirty in any ugly affair as if she were above it. And yet because of this arrogance, it creates the atmosphere of ‘murder in mind’ as a way out of her marriage. She slinks around and acts mysterious. She oozes seduction. To guide us through the narrative Hitchcock uses one of the mechanisms of misdirection as Charlotte is coded by being dressed in white symbolizing innocence of course. When Jonathan brings her a change of clothes he brings her a black dress and tells her Thus visually Charlotte has been turned into the murderer. But being a diva and having an extramarital affair doesn’t make you a murderer, it does however give you “not giving a damn’ rights… “You’re an actress, you’re playing a part.” Charlotte Inwood: “He was an abominable man. Why do women marry abominable men?”
90. Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich) in The Blue Angel (1930) Marlene had a genius at marketing her own brand of seduction. In Morocco (1930) as the tuxedo-wearing night club singer she audaciously plants a kiss on a woman sitting in the audience. In The Blue Angel Lola Lola is the iconic world-weary lugubrious beauty who can’t help falling in love again, nor does she give a damn. There are various stories of why Marlene Dietrich was cast as Lola Lola, the one recounted by director Josef von Sternberg in his autobiography is that Dietrich showed up for the screen test appearing bored, & world-weary not believing she would get the role. – Sternberg hired her because that world-weary attitude was precisely what he was looking for in Lola Lola Lola Lola: “What Am I Bid for My Apple?” Falling in love again/ Never wanted to/ What am I to do?/ I can’t help it.
91. Jane Eyre (Joan Fontaine) in Jane Eyre (1943) Oh those Bronte sisters! To have survived a horrible girl’s school run by the cruel headmaster (the imposing Henry Daniell) (Peggy Ann Garner plays young Jane) shows a lot of guts. She is at the mercy of a brutal Puritan ethic— corporal punishment, forced to walk out in the rain, lashed on the hands, and friends (Elizabeth Taylor) left to die from pneumonia. Then Jane finds herself in the middle of Gothic intrigue when she takes a job as a nanny for the brooding Edward Rochester’s (Orson Welles) little girl (Margaret O’Brien) … Jane at first might seem meek and humble, but she has a quiet tenacity and a conviction to stay strong and do what her heart wants, to be by Rochester’s side when the crazy women in the locked room go berserk… Somber, dark, and at times downright frightening. Between Rochester’s brooding and the madwomen in the locked room, you’d think Jane would run for the hills. But she’s got the spirit of that little girl who won’t be broken by fate or despair… Jane Eyre: “I should never mistake informality for insolence. One, I rather like; the other, no free-born person would submit to, even for a salary.”
92. Elsa Bannister (Rita Hayworth) The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Elsa is married to Arthur Bannister (Everette Sloan). Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) reluctantly takes a job on Bannister’s Yacht, on their way to San Francisco they pick up Bannister’s law partner Grisby (Glenn Anders). Michael agrees to go along with Grisby’s plan to fake his own murder so he can use the money to run off with Elsa. When Grisby actually turns up murdered, Michael gets blamed and Bannister defends him at the trial. Elsa is a cunning temptress who uses pity as a way to draw sympathy, but in the end, it is part of her wile that lures us in deeper. The climax leads Michael O’Hara into a labyrinthine fun house where she becomes the Minotaur stalking him, her power of controlling the entire situation from the beginning. She’s a dangerous woman. And like many of film noir lovers who seek sexual gratification outside the accepted bonds of the marriage vow, Elsa and Michael’s love affair creates a violent kind of adultery. Hayworth is absolutely captivating as the seductress laying a trap. Elsa Bannister: “I told you, you know nothing about wickedness.”
93. Moe Williams (Thelma Ritter) in Pick up on South Street (1953) Moe flicks out witty asides faster than flies landing on potato salad at a picnic with self-assured wise-cracking wisdom. In this great noir classic Moe is a grouchy yet adorable snitch for the police who lives in a small depressing little rented room selling handbags and knows all the pickpockets and illegal goings on in town. Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) is a pickpocket who fleeces a handbag belonging to Candy (Jean Peters) and accidentally gets hold of some secret spy film belonging to the Communists. Moe winds up in the middle. – Moe Williams: Capt. Dan Tiger: “I’ve got almost enough to buy both the stone and the plot.” Capt. Dan Tiger: “If you lost that kitty, it’s Potter’s Field.” Moe Williams: “This I do not think is a very funny joke, Captain Tiger!” Moe Williams: “I just meant you ought to be careful how you carry your bankroll.” “Look, Tiger, if I was to be buried in Potter’s Field, it would just about kill me.”– Moe Williams: “You got any Happy Money?” Candy: “Happy Money?” Moe Williams: “Yeah, money that’s gonna make me happy.”
94. Theodora (Claire Bloom) The Haunting (1963) Theo is a cosmopolitan, leopard print, Mary Quant-wearing Sapphist from NYC and is one of the guests in Dr Marway’s (Richard Johnson) parapsychology experiment —a supernatural study of Hill House having reputed to be a hotbed of activity. Theo is a psychic noted in journals for having excelled in various ESP experiments. She also develops a frisky crush on Eleanor Lance (Julie Harris). Though Theo is dressed in black a lot, she really doesn’t come off as the stereotypical predatory lesbian considering it’s one of cinema’s most notable first gay female characters. Theo is the most enlightened of the foursome in the sense that she has hyper-awareness due to her extra-sensory perception. She knows she’s a lesbian, and she can see other people’s neurosis and fears, even more than they know them themselves. While the film isn’t about being a lesbian, Theodora saunters through the frightening space of the uncanny, with her hand firmly on her hip and though shaken a bit when the pounding on the door sounds too much like something’s hurling cannon balls, and the chill a bit too cold for comfort, she never truly loses her own cool. Theo also knows what she wants… Eleanor has been a prisoner her whole life— a sort of confinement of repression as she fades into Hill House, a house that was just born bad. But Theo escapes the haunting practically in the same shape as when she entered. Eleanor may accuse her of being one of , but it seems that it’s the other way around. And when Theo answers the question nature’s accidents with “What are you afraid of?” This is very much an afterthought, it is in the past tense. An ironic statement meant to make light of her already settled life in Manhattan with her ‘We’ assuming it’s a woman. “Of knowing what I want” Theodora: “What would you call this place? Fun-o-rama?”
95. Belle (Josette Day) La Belle Et La Bete (1946) Belle is a beautiful young woman who nobly takes her father’s place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast (Jean Marais) in Jean Cocteau’s beautifully surreal film as he fabulates how beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The beast needs her to fall in love with him in order to break the spell he’s been cursed with. The heroine Belle of this fairy tale has an unwavering determination to prevail in this new mysterious world of hers. While the Beast initially is a frightening figure, Belle’s compassion and grace allow her to see his soul and not his hairy chest and fangs. Belle is able to negotiate the strangeness of her new surroundings and not only adapt but become a vital part of bringing joy to the poor cursed Beast. She has no fear, she only knows dignity and love and she has enough of it to transform a curse into a blessing…. Now that’s an empowered woman!
96. Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) Jean is a teacher and progressive individualist in a private girl’s school in 1930s Edinburgh who defies the accepted Christian curriculum in order to spread her own brand of teaching art, culture, and philosophy to her 12-year-old charges. She brings a highly romanticized view of the world to these very impressionable young girls. Jean an unmarried woman is sexually active in this rigid environment. She imbues her lessons with a passion for life. Jean Brodie: .” Pamela Franklin as Sandy brings out the generational clash and is a young cynic in conflict with Brodie’s inflated sense of romance. But each has a quality that makes them strong, unyielding, and in control of their passions. Brodie is very devoted to her ‘girls’ giving each of them a special title. Sandy is very stubborn and already has ‘an old head’ on her shoulders, resenting Brodie for never giving her credit for being attractive instead she damns her with feint praise by saying she is always the dependable one. In the end, amidst the conflict and scandal at the school, Sandy seeks her poetic revenge… by sleeping with Jean’s artist lover Teddy Lloyd. “Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life Sandy: “I’m not sure about God, but I am now quite sure about witches.”
97. Adrea Spedding (Gale Sondergaard) in Sherlock Holmes & The Spider Woman (1944) Adrea Spedding is a challenging nemesis for the great sleuth Sherlock Holmes. When he takes a case that centers around victims who have all been found in their pajamas dead by apparent suicide, the authorities begin to question whether they have a serial murderer on their hands. Esteemed gentlemen are going to bed alive and acting normal one minute yet are found dead in the safe confines of their homes, without any trace of foul play. Holmes concocts a plan to fake his own death, so that he may go undercover and flush out the murderer. He is also convinced the killer is a woman. He impersonates a wealthy retired military officer and uses himself as a lure to bring out this artful evil murderer. Adrea isn’t fooled by Holme’s ruse. She is a brilliant mastermind who proves very difficult to not only catch, she traps him in her web, this archetypical Spider Woman. Set in a carnival shooting gallery that adds a wonderfully macabre sense of dread. Adrea Spedding who has Holmes in her clutches-“Don’t stand in the drafty corridor, I should hate to have you to take cold and die of natural causes.”
98. Laura Manion (Lee Remick) in Anatomy of a Murder 1959 Laura was allegedly raped by bartender Barney Quill. Her husband Fred Manion (Ben Gazzara) has a history of violence, possessiveness, and jealousy, and kills Quill. He’s defended in court by Paul Biegler (James Stewart). Even with no physical evidence that the rape occurred, Laura sticks to her husband’s uncooperative recounting of the story. Laura seems to possess an almost disingenuous vulnerability. Did she get her bruises from the man whom she claimed raped her, or did her jealous husband beat her? Laura has a very casual way of reacting to this entire ordeal. She shows no remorse, fear, or shame. Revealing a very seductive yet indifferent temperament, she appears to not give a damn. The problem for Biegler is the more he investigates the case, the more it turns out that Laura may not be averse to keeping company with other men. She has to be coached on how to tamp down her wardrobe and Biegler makes her wear a suit, hat, and horned-rimmed glasses in the courtroom for the jury. Biegler has to convince the jury that Laura wasn’t having an affair with Quill and that her husband didn’t kill him out of jealous rage. The thing about Laura and at the core of the film itself is that the alleged rape shouldn’t be based on her morals, the way she dresses, or whether she’s promiscuous, flirtatious, or a tease. And even if her husband does have a jealous temper, even if Laura was raped she and her brutish husband exude the same hidden belligerent disregard of the law. It could be that they are pair of thrill seekers who push each other’s buttons on purpose for excitement. He allows her to be seen in order to lure men, so he can get angry enough and either beat or kill them to feed his blood lust. She then gets off on his violence and the cycle continues. Another follie au deux. Paul: “Several things have occurred to me, the uh undergarments Barney Quill tore off, who has them now… the police?” Laura (chuckles): “You mean my panties?” Paul: “Alright, your panties.”
99. Eva Hermann (Hedy Lamarr ) in her first film Ecstasy 1933 Eva marries a much older man who obviously suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and doesn’t show her any form of physical affection at all in his ordered world. Left with no passion, and no human contact, she feels cut off from the world and imprisoned by this loveless marriage. So she leaves and goes home to her father. While swimming in the lake, her horse runs off, and coming to her aide she meets a very sensual young man named Adam (Aribert Mog) of course there’s instant chemistry and they fall in love. In the 2nd controversial part of the film, the first being her full frontal nude scene while swimming- the two make love in what I think is one of THE most erotic images in early cinema. it might also be one of the first on-screen orgasms. As Eva’s heaving body is framed by the camera it seems to follow her pulsing body with a visually erotic rhythm. Eva/Hedy manifests a look on her face of… well. that just says she’s experiencing ECSTASY. But her husband has become grief-stricken and in a twist of fate discovers that his bride has become involved with the young man whom he fatefully happens to meet on the road on day… Outside the tavern where the young lovers dance and rejoice, the husband shoots himself. Unable to negotiate what has happened, Eva decides that she must be alone. She feels it a matter of honor not to continue with this shadow hanging over them… It took guts to leave her marriage and enter into this profound love affair, and it took guts to walk out… There isn’t much dialogue, the film relies much on the breathtaking visual narrative, as Eva journeys to find release from her conflicted life. When you look beyond the whole infamous nude swimming scene that not only caused a sensation here in America, it dogged Hedy for years, what’s most significant is how many dimensions Hedy conveyed without words.
100. Ann Roberts- (Joan Blondell) in Blonde Crazy (1931 pre-code) It’s the Depression Era America where you have to dream of better things. Ann Roberts is a chambermaid, and Bert Harris (James Cagney) works as a bellhop at a hotel. He’s always looking for one scheme or another, as he says . He’s a charming sort of con man and he’s even a lovable sort of fella. He falls for the glamorous Ann Roberts. She doesn’t take to Bert right away… When he makes a pass at her she slaps his face WHAM!- The next time he sees her he says-“ “This is the age of chiselry” Ann says, “ I’m so stuck on you, I wouldn’t mind getting slugged by you every day.” smiles, and hits him again. Soon, she agrees to be his partner in a con game. They target other con men like Dapper Dan Barker (Louis Calhern) until Bert gets the idea of actually stealing something big. In comparison to the crooked players, Bert and Ann come across as the real heroes of the film. And Joan Blondell is always spunky, a bit saucy, high spirited, and a delight to watch- Oh yeah,” Bert Harris: “Now, you play ball with me… and your worrying days will be over.” Ann Roberts: “Yeah?… How about the nights?”
101. Ethel Whitehead/Lorna Hansen Forbes (Joan Crawford) in The Damned Don’t Cry (1950) Lorna is a New York socialite who climbs the ladder of success man by man. Finally, her life among rich gangsters gives her what she thought she always wanted. The murder of gangster Nick Prenta (Steve Cochran) sparks an investigation. The mysterious socialite Lorna Hansen Forbes is nowhere to be found, and even more intriguing is her elusive past as Ethel Whitehead. The noir flashback allows us to see her poor working-class background and her hunger to find the “better things” She uses her sensational body and good looks to climb the ladder stepping on one man after another to get to the top… the top being a powerful crime syndicate She’s the Private Lady of a Public Enemy! Ethel Whitehead: “Don’t talk to me about self-respect. That’s something you tell yourself you got when you got nothing else. What kind of self-respect is there living on aspirin tablets and chicken salad sandwiches?”– Ethel Whitehead: “I know how you feel. You’re a nice guy. But the world isn’t for nice guys. You’ve got to kick and punch and belt your way up because nobody’s going to give you a lift. You’ve got to do it yourself, cuz nobody cares about us except ourselves.”
102. Nancy Fowler Archer -(Allison Hayes) in Attack of the 50 ft Woman (1958) When her lecherous husband Harry (William Hudson) who only married her for her money, gets caught with Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) slobbering all over each other in a local bar, Nancy storms off into the desert, drunk and disoriented. She comes in contact with an enormous glowing sphere whose inhabitant is a giant bald hairy knuckled alien who steals her jewel necklace. Well, the radiation exposure does you know what to Nancy, and the next thing you know, she is a bit more imposing to husband Harry than she was the last time they tangled eye to eye! Need I say more… Nancy Archer: [with emotional anger] “My husband!… My gigolo! That’s what you are. You’re a miserable parasite! You’re just after my money! I was rid of you once. Why did I take you back? Why? Why?” — Nancy Archer: “HAAAAAAAAAAARRRYYYY!”
103. Edie Johnson (Linda Darnell) in No Way Out 1950 Edie is a conflicted girl who grew up in the worst part of town, a sewer, where all the rats are trying to either claw their way out or run the place by calling the shots and getting rough when anyone steps out of line. Richard Widmark plays Ray Biddle, Edie’s brother-in-law who also is a violent thug spewing racist hatred. That’s why when he gets shot during a robbery and his brother John dies, it’s ironic that both are treated by a black doctor Luther Brooks (Sidney Poitier). This sends Ray into a rage who then stirs up a race riot. Edie has to decide whether to stay loyal to the people she grew up with in the streets or make a decision to do what’s right and help Dr. Brooks fight this madness. Edie’s got guts and doesn’t allow Ray’s hatred to poison her mind. She’s had it tough her whole life, but she’s got the courage and a sense of honor and in the end, she rises up and shatters the ugliness of the bigotry that has created violence and hatred… She wants out! Edie Johnson – Mrs. John Biddle: “It’s none of your business what I do. It’s a respectable job and I pay my own way.” Dr. Dan Wharton: “And you are not living in Beaver Canal anymore?” Edie Johnson – Mrs. John Biddle: “Yeah I’ve come up in the world. I used to live in a sewer and now I live in a swamp. All those babes do it in the movies. By now I ought to be married to the governor and paying blackmail so he don’t find out I once lived in Beaver Canal.”
104. She who must be obeyed (Helen Gahagan) SHE (1935) This is the wondrous fantasy story of the beautiful woman who bathed in flame and lived 500 years. She holds sway over her ancient hidden kingdom by using terror and the threat of unspeakable torture and human sacrifice. She is the protectress of a great secret The Flame of Eternal Life. It is this flame that she has bathed in that has given her eternal youth and beauty When she thinks that a British explorer Randolph Scott is the reincarnation of her lost love, she rules that the rest of the expedition be put to death, that includes Nigel Bruce and Helen Mack. It’s a spectacle of dynamic female sovereignty and the force of male power flipped on its equally brutish head. She, Queen Hash-A-Mo-Tep of Kor: “I am yesterday, and today, and tomorrow. I am sorrow, and longing, and hope unfulfilled. I am Hash-A-Mo-Tep. She. She who must be obeyed…! I am I.”
105. Rose Given (Hope Emerson) in Cry of the City (1948) Rose is a pretty formidable lady. She runs a massage parlor, loves to cook, is a pancake eatin’ -looming heavy… who loves jewels and just wants a little place in the country where she can cook, eat pancakes and fresh eggs… yeah that’s livin’. That’s why she didn’t even break a sweat when she strangled old lady DeGrasia for her jewelry. Darn old gal had the nerve to put up a struggle! The story focuses on Police Lieut. Candella (Victor Mature) a longtime friend of the Rome family, now must try and catch the escaped cop-killer Martin Rome (Richard Conte) who goes to Madame Rose Given for aid in lamming it out of town. Rose ‘massaging’ Martin (Richard Conte) – “Hmmm…It is good, isn’t it? I have the touch. It’s only given to a few. It’s a matter of knowing the currents of the body. Why waste this on fat old women who think they can lose a few pounds and be beautiful again… Fat old women who have too much money and too many jewels. They think the jewels make them beautiful and they fight to keep them like they fight the years that make them ugly.”
106. Brenda Martin (Jan Sterling) in Women’s Prison 1955 Women’s Prison is one of THE best 50s women-in-prison noirs. Brenda is one of those girls who is more in than out forging checks as a hobby. When she writes bad checks once again, she winds up back inside under the thumb of sadistic warden Amelia van Zandt (Ida Lupino). But for Brenda, it is actually a welcomed relief to come “home” again. She’s met with great cheers from her friends, even though she has blown her parole. Brenda is one of the heroines of the film. She may like kiting checks but she’s loving and loyal and tough enough for prison and she likes herself “Our old friend’s back!” Brenda Martin: “Remember, be quiet. One yell out of a slaphappy dame will blow the whole works. Now, go on, beat it.”
107. Annie Laurie Starr -(Peggy Cummins) in Gun Crazy 1950 or Deadly is the Female Annie who plays a dangerous game of Folie-à-deux with Barton (John Dahl). Annie is beautiful yet menacing and pistol happy. She seduces Barton as they delve into a life of robberies and murder. It’s a life of non-conformity and alienation and Annie is electrifying as she’s got a taste for danger and no conscience to go with it… Annie Laurie Starr: “Bart, I’ve been kicked around all my life, and from now on, I’m gonna start kicking back.”
108. Kitty March (Joan Bennett) in Scarlett Street (1945) Katharine ‘Kitty’ March is a quintessential femme fatale who is rescued from her abusive boyfriend by a lonely cashier and amateur painter Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) He’s going through a mid-life crisis. Kitty’s snake in the grass fiancé Dan Duryea (who calls her ‘crazy legs’) urges her to con the poor sucker out of his fortune, unfortunately, the guy doesn’t have a pot to peel a potato in. But he lets Kitty think that he’s a successful painter setting her up in her own apartment using his overbearing wife’s money. Kitty is irresistible. She leads him down a dangerous path that can only end one way. And… Kitty is one of those ruthless dames who just doesn’t give a damn! And Joan Bennett is smooth & scorching hot while she’s playing at being bad… Kitty March: “If he were mean or vicious or if he’d bawl me out or something, I’d like him better.”– Kitty March: “How can a man be so dumb… I’ve been waiting to laugh in your face ever since I met you. You’re old and ugly and I’m sick of you –sick, sick, sick!”
109. Ann Smith (Carole Lombard) in Mr and Mrs Smith (1941) Alfred Hitchcock’s only screwball comedy. He was talked into directing it by Carole Lombard. Carole Lombard has a magnetism that’s authentic on and off the screen. She had a buoyant beauty and a brilliant kind of humor that when she wielded it around she just was DAMN funny & sexy. She had a modern kind of freethinking style and comedic timing that is reinforced with the most precision facial expressions and body language that underscore each scene. Ann is an Upper East Side NYC wife married to David Smith (Robert Montgomery) who is a charming pompous ass. She finds out that because of a technicality, their 3-year marriage isn’t legal! Ann decides that she isn’t going for a second time around with him because he’s said if he had the chance all over again he never would have married her… she storms out in a huff and soon begins dating his solid, dependable business partner Jeff (Gene Raymond). The mischievous David tries to sabotage her at every turn. Lombard is brilliant as she exploits how flawed their relationship truly is. As Ann starts to flit around like a single woman and even refers to herself using her maiden name Ann Krausheimer. David tries desperately to get Ann back, but she kind of likes this new freedom. She has a lot of spunk and a will of her own. As Harry Deever (Charles Deever) tells David — Ann: “If you had it all to do over again, would you still have married me? ” David: “Honestly, no.” The irony is that both love each other but feel a sense of entrapment in the marriage and the idea that it may not be legal is an out for them. Ann exudes a voracious sexual appetite and gutsy spirit that explodes into a comedic slapstick when she and David are at the ski resort … She’s hilarious and adorable as she exudes a playful menacing tone “She once chased a dogcatcher half a mile with a baseball bat.” Ann-(After David pushes her back into the chair with her skis stuck on and her legs tangled )”I’m warning you I’ll kill you in cold blood. Sometime, some day when your back is turned I’ll stab you.”
110. Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard) in The Women (1939). This all-female comedy romp deals out razor-sharp wit and biting satire, throws barbs and sentimental asides out so fast you really need to catch it all as it goes by, or you’ll miss it. And even the beautiful Norma Sheara before she was the ingénue (was referred to as “Miss Lot’a Miles” modeling for a tire company) as Mary Haines a heartfelt performance as a dove in a nest of birds of prey…Now Miriam is a chorus girl who is light-hearted spunky, no-nonsense, and not afraid to land one on Mrs. Howard Fowler’s (Roz Russell’s) venom-spewing face… She’s one tough cookie! Meeting Mrs. Stephen Haines (Norma Shearer) and the wonderful Countess Flora De Lave (Mary Boland ) on the train for Reno where they’re all heading to finalize their divorces-good riddance to those pesky husbands. Miriam’s got a fiery spunk that Goddard embodies brilliantly! ‘Oh, l’amour, l’amour, how it can let you down. Hmm. How it can pick you up again’ Miriam meeting Mary-“ Countess DeLave “But whither, whither shall I fly?” Miriam- “In the arms of our pet cowboy, darling!” Countess (gasps)- “Miriam Aarons!!!” Miriam – “Why he’s plum loco for you countess he likes you even better than his horse. And it’s such a blasted big horse too. Well, he could crack a coconut with those knees. If he could get them together.” Oh yeah! Good for you! I was afraid you were a wet firecracker, sister. Shake!”
111. Vi Victor (Mamie Van Doren) Girls Guns and Gangsters (1959) Vi is a cheating Blonde whose husband Mike Bennett (Lee Van Clef) gets mixed up in an armored truck job carrying Vegas casino money. He goes to prison and he’s insanely jealous of anyone going near his wife. He’s got a temper, and he escapes, but Vi is a lot of women and she doesn’t like to be told what to do! There’s a scene where Vi with her bleached hair flowing in the wind wearing her dazzling sunglasses drives a 1958 Edsel Citation Convertible that is pulling a horse trailer-fabulous! Mamie just took the reigns of being a glamorous bullet bra-wearing buxom beauty and pushed the envelope as far as it would go! That’s what made these early clichéd exploitation films so memorable and fun to watch.
112. dragon-lady ‘Mother’ Gin Sling (Ona Munson) in The Shanghai Gesture (1941).
She’s a dragon lady in Shanghai who operates a gambling house for wealthy patrons but she clashes with influential land developer Sir Guy Charteris who wants to put her out of business.
113. Marlene Dietrich as Shanghai Lili the enchantress who travels along the train lines, and stumbles onto a dangerous ride while reuniting with an old lover in Shanghai Express (1932).
114. Ann May Wong as Hui Fei the fearlessly mysterious woman who travels with Lili in Shanghai Express 1932.
Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) is self-sufficient and in control of her body and knows she is the best ‘fuck’ that money can buy in Klute 1974.
70s Cinema: Runaway Trains, Racing toward oblivion, Psycho-sexual machinations, and ‘the self loathing whore’ Part 1
116. Torch singer Petey Brown (Ida Lupino) has guts and is terrific when she bitch slaps the sleazy good-for-nothing Johnny in The Man I Love (1946).
The Very Thought of You: Andrea King in 4 Fabulous Unsung Film Noir Gems!
117. Miriam Hopkins as Gilda Farrell in
Hopkins has all the power when juggling both Gary Cooper and Fredric March. Design for Living 1933.
118. No one is more savage than Ann Savage’s ruthless Vera in Edgar G. Ulmer’s
Tom Neal was destined to be doomed when he picks up Vera who takes him on a nightmarish ride. Detour 1945.
31 Flavors of Noir on the Fringe to Lure You In! Part 1
119. Jayne Mansfield is the bright star Jerry Jordan in
. When a down-and-out gangster hires an alcoholic press agent, they try to turn Jerry into a singing sensation in only 6 weeks. The only problem is- she has no talent! The Girl Can’t Help It 1956
120. In Josef von Sternberg’s
, Marlene Dietrich plays Concha Perez, a cunning temptress who drives men to distraction. The Devil is a Woman 1935
121.Piper Laurie as Delia Leslie Friskett in Robert Wise’s
She plays one of four sisters – Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, and Sandra Dee in her first role. During WWII they struggle to survive without the men in their lives. Piper Laurie’s performance as Delia Leslie is extraordinary filled with layers of self-preservation and boldness. Delia is a free spirit who will not bend to others’ will. Until They Sail 1957.
Piper Laurie: The Girl Who Ate Flowers
122. Juanita Moore earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her portrayal of Annie Johnson in
. Moore gives a powerful performance as a black mother positioned in the world of Lana Turner’s white privilege. She is faced with her daughter’s struggle to negotiate her identity and in real life, facing Hollywood’s persistent stereotyping of black actors. Imitation of Life 1959
123. Joan Blondell as the enigmatic Zeena Krumbein in Edmund Goulding’s
. Set in the dark lure of the world of Carnival life and the shifty con of fake mentalism, Blondell is tapped into the power of the Tarot and remains a strong Goddess-like seer who bears witness to Tyrone Power’s spiral downward. Nightmare Alley 1947
Nightmare Alley: Faustian Carnival Noir: The rise and fall: From Divinity to Geek
NOW BEAT IT AND be empowered AND GO MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELVES BEFORE WE FILL YOU FULL OF LEAD!