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Dames to kill for: The most memorable film noir femme fatales

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What's a film noir without a great femme fatale? While the new film "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" has received negative reviews, most critics agree that Eva Green makes a great femme fatale in the tradition of Barbara Stanwyck in "Double Indemnity" and Ava Gardner in "The Killers."

They played women who wanted love, power, and money, and they used their beauty, brains and sex appeal to get what they wanted, no matter who got hurt along the way.

Here are some of the most unforgettably wicked women of classic film noirs: Trust them at your peril!

Ava Gardner in 'The Killers'
Ava Gardner in 'The Killers' Universal Pictures

Ava Gardner in 'The Killers'

Burt Lancaster's not-so-bright character Swede falls for Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner) and when she's caught with stolen jewelry, he confesses to the crime (even though he's innocent) and goes to jail.

Barbara Stanwyck in 'Double Indemity'
Barbara Stanwyck in 'Double Indemity' Paramount/Universal

Barbara Stanwyck in 'Double Indemity'

When insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) meets sexy housewife Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) the stage is set for murder as the two are soon conspiring to bump off her husband for the money.

Lizabeth Scott in 'Too Late For Tears'
Lizabeth Scott in 'Too Late For Tears' United Artists

Lizabeth Scott in 'Too Late For Tears'

After a suitcase full of cash mistakenly ends up in the hands of a dissatisfied woman, her ruthlessness and determination to keep the money exceeds even the blackmailer for whom it was intended.

Joan Bennett in 'The Woman in the Window'
Joan Bennett in 'The Woman in the Window' RKO

Joan Bennett in 'The Woman in the Window'

A mild-mannered criminology professor finds himself on the wrong side of the law when he falls for a beautiful woman (Bennett) with a rich lover (Dan Duryea).

Claire Trevor in 'Born to Kill'
Claire Trevor in 'Born to Kill' RKO

Claire Trevor in 'Born to Kill'

Perhaps the coldest-hearted femme fatale of them all: Helen (Trevor) falls for her violent brother-in-law (Lawrence Tierney), going to criminal lengths to cover for him and win him from her sister.

Jane Greer in 'Out of the Past'
Jane Greer in 'Out of the Past' RKO

Jane Greer in 'Out of the Past'

Private eye Jeff Markham (Robert Mitchum) is hired to find the woman (Greer) who shot mobster Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) and stole $40,000 from him, but when he tracks her to Mexico, falls for her instead of turning her in. The two begin a torrid romance but he soon learns he can't trust Kathie any more than Whit could.

Rita Hayworth in 'The Lady From Shanghai'
Rita Hayworth in 'The Lady From Shanghai' Columbia Pictures

Rita Hayworth in 'The Lady From Shanghai'

Women don't come much colder than Elsa Bannister (Hayworth), whom sailor Michael O'Hara (Orson Welles) saves from a park hold-up. Soon he's signed on to sail with her and her much older husband and finds himself caught up in a murderous scheme.

Gloria Grahame in 'Human Desire'
Gloria Grahame in 'Human Desire' Columbia Pictures

Gloria Grahame in 'Human Desire'

In Fritz Lang's remake of Jean Renoirs "La Bete Humaine," Gloria Grahame is married to Broderick Crawford, but when she thinks Glenn Ford's witnessed her husband kill out of jealousy, she seduces Ford to keep him quiet.

Peggy Cummins in 'Gun Crazy'
Peggy Cummins in 'Gun Crazy' United Artists

Peggy Cummins in 'Gun Crazy'

The alternate title -- "Deadly is the Female" -- tells you all you need to know about this indie noir. The courtship between Cummins and John Dall begins with gunplay and soon Cummins is leading him into an out-of-control crime spree.

Yvonne De Carlo in 'Criss Cross'
Yvonne De Carlo in 'Criss Cross' Universal Studios

Yvonne De Carlo in 'Criss Cross'

Steve (Burt Lancaster) is advised not to look up his ex-wife Anna (De Carlo) when he returns to town, but he just can't keep away. Before he knows it, he's drawn into a plot to rob the armored car company he works for. He just wants Anna, but what does she want?

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