Top Femme Fatales by Decade

By Eliza Sanchez, Marketing Assistant

City of Angels (playing now through May 2nd, Get Tickets) is a jazzy, brassy musical comedy spoof of Film Noir and 1940’s Hollywood. A favorite staple of the Film Noir genre is the Femme Fatale. You’ll find this classic character in City of Angels as Alaura Kingsley, played by Samatha Richert*. Besides the devious Alaura, check out our countdown of Top Femme Fatales by decade!

femme fa·tale noun, plural femmes fa·tales [fem fuh-talz, –tahlz, fey-; French fam fa-tal]

  1. an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; siren.

1940s: Kitty Collins, The Killers (1946) played by Ava Gardner
Our first femme fatale is Kitty Collins of the 1946 noir film The Killers, who slips into the hearts of more than one man of crime, and shows us what it really means to “double cross” someone.

1950s: Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton,
Vertigo (1958) played by Kim Novak

In Vertigo we watch Kim Novak give a stunning performance as Madeleine Elster and Judy Barton, who lead an already disturbed man into spiraling mental deterioration.

Photo of Kim Novak

1960s: Mrs. Robinson, The Graduate (1967) played by Anne Bancroft

And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. She might not have killed anyone, but her seduction of 21 year old college grad Benjamin Braddock was killer enough to get her on this list. 

Anne Bancroft and Banjamin Braddock

1970s: Evelyn Mulwray, Chinatown (1974) played by Faye Dunaway

In 1974’s Chinatown, Evelyn Mulwray leads private detective Jake Gittes as he investigates a water conspiracy, and proves herself to be a femme fatale with a dark past and a gloomy fate.

Faye Dunaway holding a gun

1980s: Veronica Sawyer, Heathers (1988) played by Winona Ryder

The 1980s were home to a slew of adolescent blockbusters, and 1988’s Heathers gave us teenage femme fatale Veronica Sawyer who, along with boyfriend J.D., begins a suicide craze at their preppy high school.

Winona Ryder holding a gun

1990s: Catwoman, Batman Returns (1992) played by Michelle Pfeiffer

Batman Returns introduced us to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle. The feline vigilante seeks revenge on her villainous employer, and finds herself involved with Batman along the way.

Michelle Pfeiffer dressed as cat woman

2000s: Jane Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) played by Angelina Jolie

Jane Smith is one of the world’s best assassins in 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jolie kicks butt alongside Brad Pitt as she carries out a hit…against her husband.

Angelina Jolie holding a gun

2010s: Amy Dunne, Gone Girl (2014) played Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike stunned as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl, riveting audiences with her portrayal of a terrified, broken down wife. Or was she?

Side profile of Rosamund Pike