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Femme Fatales Vol 05 No 11

The late-summer crime film Hustlers debuted in September 2019 and as of the end of October 2019, had grossed more than $110 million worldwide. Featuring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, the star-studded ensemble cast bilks unsuspecting Wall Street doofs out of thousands of dollars via a team of talented female scammers (and the aid of some party drugs and booze). The film, directed by Lorene Scafaria and based on real events written up in an article by Jessica Pressler, undoubtedly plays into the tropes of the femme fatales (none of the marks end up dead but their wallets sure are made lighter by this entrepreneurial sisterhood).

Femme Fatales Vol 05 No 11

I wrote a defense of femme fatales in the the Fall 2015 issue of the Film Noir Foundation's magazine, Noir City and it's now available, with contributors Meagan Abbott, Ben Terrall, Krista Faust, Renee Patrick, Rose McGowan and more inside. Make a donation and read it all here. Here's an excerpt from my much longer piece.

As a neonoir, (3) Franklin's film develops out of this L.A. film noir history in its use of, among other film noir conventions, L.A. as a setting in which investigational narratives occur. Focusing on crime, corruption, and strained social bonds, Devil in a Blue Dress depicts a portion of L.A. culture that, because it lacks moral light, is considered, metaphorically, to be "dark." The film interrogates the very darkness that is central to this metaphor as, simultaneously, it explores the racialized equation of criminality and darkness-blackness through a plot that concentrates on questions that pertain to racialized social relations. This aspect of Devil in a Blue Dress informs B. Ruby Rich's consideration of the film, in which she rightly identifies it as a "film noir with a difference": a neonoir that focuses on "'outsider' identit[ies]--African-Americans, non-fatal femmes, gays and lesbians." (4) 041b061a72


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