In the years during and after World War II, women on the silver screen were forces to be reckoned with—especially in the dark, crime-ridden underworld of film noir.
There, females triumphed as more than mere femme fatales or arm candy for men. They were the dynamic main characters in dozens of noirish “women’s films,” an overlooked back alley of classic film we like to call FEMME NOIR.
These thrilling melodramas were aimed at a war-empowered female audience hungry to see the full spectrum of their experiences on the screen. Femme Noir allowed women to be strong and controlling, weak and vulnerable, sane and psychotic, sexually repressed and wildly promiscuous. And every shade of gray in between.
December 2: Leave Her to Heaven. Film noir/Romance. Directed by John M. Stahl.
Written by Jo Swerling. Based on a novel by Ben Ames Williams. Produced by William
A. Bacher. From 20 th Century Fox. (Color, 1945, USA, 110 minutes, not rated) Starring
Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Mary Philips, Ray Collins.
Writer Richard Harland meets the stunning and self-assured Ellen Berent on a train and
she takes him to meet her family. She sweeps him off his feet with the force of her love
but he does not understand how obsessive her love actually is. His writing, her family,
and his family are all objects of her jealousy. She will go to any length to have him to
herself - with consequences that he does not understand until it's too late.