Introduction: Beyond the Limits of Noir Scholarship

  • Samantha Lindop


The femme fatale of film noir has attracted considerable scholarly attention over the decades since 1955, when Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton defined the figure as a ‘new type of woman’ (1996, p. 22), one who is as fatal for herself as she is to those who become entangled in her schemes. To date, interest in the fatale figure has, for the most part, centred on two cinematic cycles. Firstly, the classic film noir era of the 1940s and 1950s. Feminists, film scholars, and psychoanalytic theorists are well known for their innovative critiques of the dark lady of this period, exploring her elemental characteristics and establishing the figure as representative of deep-seated patriarchal anxieties stemming from cultural shifts in gender dynamics taking place in society at the time (see Mary Ann Doane, 1991; Janey Place, 1998; and E. Ann Kaplan, 1998 for example).


Popular Culture Feminist Enquiry Gender Dynamic Gender Power Relation Femme Fatale 
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  1. 2.
    See Paul Schrader’s ‘Notes on Film Noir’ (1996, pp. 53–64) for a more comprehensive breakdown of the stylistic elements of classic noir.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Bill Drake’s A Rage in Harlem (1991)Google Scholar
  3. and Hoodlum (1997), both period-gangster thrillers, could also be argued to function to this effect.Google Scholar

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© Samantha Lindop 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha Lindop
    • 1
  1. 1.University of QueenslandAustralia

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