• Emrah Suat Onat Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, Güzel Sanatlar Fakültesi, Film Tasarımı Bölümü


Hollywood, Kara Film, Femme Fatale, Kötü Kadın, Femme Vitale, İyi Kız


Film genres have an ideological function; They create audience expectations, repeat these expectations, and evolve variationally as a result of these repetitions. They also have ideological functions through their organic bonds with the audience. Gangster movies, which are a sub-branch of crime movies, first turn into repentant gangster anti-hero movies, and from the beginning of the 1940s -with the effect of the war-, into "films noir" that do not leave crime unpunished.

Another concept which is popular with Films Noir (narratives that center the male protagonist, where the man loses his subject position (as the conservative rhetoric puts it; ‘stolen by woman’ and where American middle-class values ​​are glorified) is femme fatale (deadly woman), who destroys the male protagonist by causing him to go astray. Femme fatale characters reflect the fear and hostility of American men towards women during and after the war. Although not included in every film noir production, this female character -who determines the narrative in the most important productions of the genre- is physically beautiful and attractive, sexually strong and active, and mentally agile and intelligent.

The collection of these qualities attributed to the man in the woman elevates her to the position of subject. The woman, who directed society and culture in the absence of the man -due to the war-, turned into a rival who 'stole' the man's job and social position from him after the war. For this reason, values such as home-family-children-motherhood, which glorify women culturally, were inflated in the American social life of the period. Women who insisted on their independence were labelled as 'immoral', 'greedy' and 'unscrupulous'. In the representations of film noir productions, the fatal woman is the malignant, seductive and insatiable type that causes the ruin of the man.

Through their mechanisms of punishment, film noir glorifies morally conservative American middle-class values while destroying characters who transgress these values. Femme fatale characters, who are carefully and deliberately portrayed as malevolent, are opposed by femme vitale (life-giving woman) characters who are far removed from their glamor, charm, intelligence and - ultimately - power.

In accordance with the famous censorship laws of the period, these female characters are sub-types who convey the moral to the audience in a direct but unpretentious manner and by whispering. With this dark contrast, they polish the femme fatale's insidiousness while reminding the main male character - and therefore the audience - of the moral.

The aim of this study is to open the concept of femme vitale (as a new stereotype) to discussion, to examine its ideological function in the films noir, and to test the concept by analysing whether it allows for a possible model/pattern.


Key Words: Hollywood, Film Noir, Femme Fatale, Deadly Woman, Femme Vitale, Good Girl






Cinema Theory and Application Areas