Sep 14, 2010

Great Quotes: Tough Dames and Femme Fatales

I’ve wanted to do another favorite quote post for some time, and this clip from the film noir 99 River Street (1953) finally inspired me to get it together.

This marvelously tense scene is equally frightening and sensual. Evelyn Keyes tries to seduce a dangerous-looking man—and she doesn’t seem to be at all concerned by the murderous look in his eyes. She is confident that she has power over him, a sentiment she makes clear with this suggestively cooed closing line:

I don’t believe in sometime. With me, it’s now or never.

Tough noir dames and femme fatales always have the best lines. In this particular flick, Keyes is actually a decent gal just posing as a dangerous lady so that she can help the leading man, but she’s pretty darn convincing.

Here’s a few more that I’m fond of:

Bart, I've been kicked around all my life, and from now on, I'm gonna start kicking back.
-Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy AKA Deadly is the Female (1950)

You're not strong or weak enough.
-Marie Windsor in Force of Evil (1948)

I don't go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.
-Jan Sterling in Ace in the Hole (1951)

It isn't fair. I never had anybody but you. Not a real husband. Not even a man. Just a bad joke without a punch line.
-Marie Windsor in The Killing (1956)

Say who do you think you're talking to - a hick? Listen Mister, I been around, and I know a wrong guy when I see one. What'd you do, kiss him with a wrench?
-Ann Savage in Detour (1945)

You shouldn't kiss a girl when you're wearing that gun... leaves a bruise
-Claire Trevor in Murder, My Sweet (1945)

. . . the lie was in the way I said it, not at all in what I said. It's my own fault if you can't believe me now.
-Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon (1941)


  1. Great quotes. I love the Maltese Falcon, and Mary Astor is great in it.


  2. Thanks Bette. I agree--Astor was fantastic when she played gals with a dark side. I wish she would have done that more often.

  3. KC: As a Roman Catholic, a lifelong admirer of Billy Wilder, and having been smitten with Jan Sterling since boyhood, I think the nylon quote is my favorite of all time. We all know about the great stars of the 1930s-1940s-1950s who were household names (e.g., Hayworth, Davis, Hepburn). But your selection shows the depth of the Hollywood studios.

    This second tier was as essential as the first: Jan Sterling, Peggy Cummins, Marie Windsor, and Claire Trevor. The scripts and lines belonged to the women. I never knew anyone who remotely resembled Hayworth. But I have come across a few Lorraine Minosas and Sherry Peattys in my day. An excellent and very representative collection. Best. Gerald

  4. Ace in the Hole was my introduction to Jan Sterling. Now everytime I see her in a movie I think "oh goody". Her voice makes me grin.

    I do have a special affection for the second tier. Maybe it is for the reasons you stated. They are working actresses rather than stars, and sometimes that makes them seem more substantial to me.