Guest Author - Barbara Rice DeShong, PhD.
How far can a woman get on her looks? What if you add a sexy attitude and a cold willingness to do whatever is necessary to get what she wants? Perhaps attractiveness should be reserved for those of us more ordinary looking women.
But then, through mystery movies, we all can experience the powerful nastiness of women endowed with looks and cunningness--and that is certainly fun. What’s more tantalizing than watching a sexy woman taking advantage of a man willing to risk everything in his life just to be with a good looking woman?
We witness seduction routines everyday--in the office, in the neighborhood, and in the news. We wonder at the foolishness of a man caught in the spotlight with an intern in his lap or a call girl on speed dial, but these lapses in judgment don’t usually end in murder.
In mystery movies, these indiscretions can and do sometimes end in murder. Seduction and murder go together when the luscious Barbara Stanwyck plays the ‘femme fatale', Phyllis Dietrichson, in Double Indemnity (1944), when Kathleen Turner comes on as the steamy Matty in Body Heat (1981) and when Linda Fiorentino, as Bridget Gregory, takes down two good men.
All three “queens of sultry” first seduce their hard-working husbands into spoiling them with don’t-lift-a-finger-don’t-worry-your-pretty-little-head glamorous lifestyles. But husbands with long working hours can be so distracted and boring.What can the little woman do?
What else? Each of these three wives, finding herself with a husband who’s no more than a useless appendage on her bank account, uses what she knows best.
All three convince men who “happen” into to their lives to rid them of their boring husbands while leaving their cushy lifestyles in tact. Unfortunately for Barbara Stanwyck, her “second man” played by Fred McMurray catches onto the scheme and kills her--not because she had tricked him into killing her husband. He was perfectly willing to forgive that small issue. He kills Barbara because he learns that the little blond had already replaced him with man number three.
Kathleen Turner and Linda Fiorentino fare better. Body Heat ends with Kathleen Turner on a tropical beach ordering a drink, clearly cashing in on her new wealthy, and unencumbered life. Poor “boyfriend” William Hurt is in prison for the murder of the man who worked to put the millions into the bank. Linda Fiorentino, who has two men in hormonal overload, goes one better, murdering her clumsy husband and setting up the “boyfriend” who helped her collect her fortune to be charged with both the murder of the husband and for raping her. Which is a pretty good trick.