|Matty: You aren’t too smart, are you? I like that in a man.|
from Body Heat (1981)
Did you hear the one about the guy who had everything, only to lose it all to the connivance of an evil seductress?
It’s a familiar story that has been the subject of countless novels and films. It became quite popular during the 1940’s and 1950’s, giving rise to the ‘film noir’ genre that brought us such classics as Gilda, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. A revival, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, put a modern spin on that theme with critically acclaimed features like Body Heat, Fatal Attraction and The Last Seduction.
In these films, the femme fatale—French for “deadly woman”—usually enlists the help of some hapless bloke to help advance her hidden agenda. To this end, she will use her feminine wiles to ensnare him, and then ultimately employ lying and coercion to control and manipulate him further, until she has finally achieved her objective.
The conclusions are often the same. After helping the woman with her schemes, the man is usually discarded, and left alone to answer for her crimes. By the time he finds out that he has been betrayed, the woman has already left—and has moved on to her next victim—leaving him a broke and ruined man.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the story of America, and how one ‘special relationship’ with a foreign nation brought it to the edge of ruin.
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