Here are some of the most iconic femme fatales of all time
Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
One of the most famous Bond girls is Pussy Galore, who appeared in the 1964 film, Goldfinger. She has a contentious relationship with Sean Connery’s Bond, who forces himself upon her in one pivotal scene. Despite this obvious crossing of boundaries, she falls for Bond and helps him thwart the evil plans of the titular villain.
Judy Barton (Vertigo)
Judy Barton, played by Kim Novak, shines as the film’s female lead and femme fatale. Playing dual roles in a story about obsession and trauma, Novak is saddled with the difficult and treacherous task of embodying the unattainable concept of perfection.
Jennifer Check (Jennifer’s Body)
In the film, Megan Fox portrays Jennifer Check, a cheerleader who becomes possessed by a demon. She begins killing and eating her male classmates, putting her at odds with her best friend, played by Amanda Seyfried. This film is a must-watch for femme fatale fans.
Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)
Many Bond girls fit the femme fatale trope, of course, but Vesper Lynd gets a boost over the others by virtue of the incredible actress who plays her, Eva Green — a very femme fatal-esque casting choice. Vesper ultimately subverts the archetype by falling for the hero, even though she still doesn’t make it to the end of the movie.
Ellen Berent Harland (Leave Her to Heaven)
Tierney’s Ellen is a rare femme fatale in that her motivations are not financial. Instead, it is obsession and possessiveness that she transfers from her father to her husband. She is pathologically jealous of anyone who competes for his attention; she must consume him whole.
Phyllis Dietrichson (Double Indemnity)
Arguably cinema’s most famous and recognizable femme fatale, Barbara Stanwyck’s Phyllis Dietrichson is also one of the medium’s most celebrated villains. A provocative, ambitious, cold housewife plotting against her unsuspecting husband, Phyllis embodies what mainstream audiences think the femme fatale is.
Amy Dunne (Gone Girl)
David Fincher’s Gone Girl made many strides for both the femme fatale trope and the psychological thriller genre. The film stars Ben Affleck as the husband of Amy Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike, who goes missing. Later, it’s revealed that Amy is the mastermind behind her capture, proving she’s one of film history’s greatest villains.
Mal Cobb (Inception)
In the film, Mal, portrayed by Marion Cotillard, is the deceased wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dom Cobb. She only appears as a manifestation of Dom’s guilt surrounding her suicide. In a nice subversion of the femme fatale trope, Mal gets her qualities of mystery and seduction from Dom’s unconscious and unwanted projections of her.
Selina Kyle (Batman Returns)
Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman, is the deuteragonist of Tim Burton’s 1992 film Batman Returns. Portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, she was a lonely, frustrated woman pushed over the edge into obsession and crime after her boss, tycoon Maximillian Shreck, tried to kill her to keep her from revealing his plot to build a power plant that would steal Gotham’s electricity.
Catherine Tramell (Basic Instinct)
Sharon Stone set the bar for the femme fatale in 1992’s Basic Instinct. She stars opposite Michael Douglas, who plays a homicide detective investigating a rock star’s murder. Catherine Tramell, the victim’s boyfriend, is the obvious suspect, but her flirtations with Douglas’s Nick Curran steer him off the path. Eventually, Catherine and Nick begin an intense affair, forcing Nick to question Catherine’s innocence. By the end, Nick has completely fallen for Catherine’s ruse, even when it’s revealed that she was the killer all along. This character is a classic example of the twisted mind games of femme fatale characters.