Throughout history men have been persuaded by seductive women. Important and powerful men have met their fate by the hands of a dangerous beauty; a succubus; a femme fatale. From Delilah and Sampson, to Judith and Holofernes, to Yoko and John, men have been weakened by the beauty of a dangerous woman. Many nations, especially during the Cold War, trained and employed agents to use their sensuous charms as a means of obtaining information. And in the process of art imitating life, filmmakers used the beautiful, dangerous woman to it’s benefit. While Agent 99 is a spy, and is most certainly sexy, she doesn’t quite have that element of danger, seductiveness, or just downright hotness that some covert women have had. I would like to pay tribute, with special consideration outside of the Bond realm, to the hottest spy movie femme fatales.
Fiona Volpe – Thunderball (1965)
Italian redhead Luciana Paluzzi’s portrayal of Fiona Volpe is an undeniably classic femme fatale. The SPECTRE assassin blows up a car while riding her missile launcher-equipped motorcycle. After seducing Mr. Bond in his hotel bathtub, she lets in fellow SPECTRE assassin Vargas, with the intent of eliminating Bond, or at least capturing so their boss can reveal his master plan. Paluzzi’s character was recreated as Fatima Blush for the non-EON production of Never Say Never Again in 1983. Blush was played by Barbara Carrera, but was just not as hot as the leatherclad firetop from Thunderball.
Shakka Holland – Nighthawks (1981)
While Nighthawks may be more of a terrorist movie than a spy movie, and being in a Stallone movie generally won’t land you on any tribute lists, the beautfiul international terrorist Shakka Holland, played by the late Indian model Persis Khambatta, is certainly both beautiful and dangerous. She is just as ruthless as her counterpart played by Rutger Hauer. So, she meets a couple of the prerequisites for a femme fatale. Also, Shakka Holland makes the list for killing someone with the same last name as me.
Dierde – Ronin (1998)
The IRA agent played by Natascha McElhone has a past, like the rest of the ex-operatives in the Frankenheimer film, that is unkown. However, the viewer gathers, from what is presented, that Dierdre is a killing machine. She is devoted to her Northern Irish cause, handles weapons well, and is an excellent getaway driver, and is sexy while doing all of those things. Sexy in a believable way, too. She is tall, athletic and has a tomboy appeal to her. And while she may not use sexuality and charm to her full advantage, opting for gunplay instead foreplay, she does capture the heart of De Niro’s character just enough to let her escape.
Jeannette the Dutch Assassin – Munich (2005)
Prior to meeting his demise, one of her victims is warned by his partner, “Beware of the local honey trap”. However, the power and charm of the femme fatale proved too much for the aging Mossad agent. In the small amount of screen time Jeannette the Dutch Assassin has in the nearly 3 hour film, the entrancing siren, played by Marie-Josée Croze, manages to ensnare and kill one of the Israeli agents, and have a nude scene.
Juno Skinner – True Lies (1994)
Back when Tia Carrere was a little hotter, and could get work, she played an antiquities dealer who was assisting terrorists in arms smuggling. Harry Tasker, played by the Governor of California, perfectly sums up her character when he describes her as a “psychopathic bitch”. But, the psychopathic femme fatale was no match for a housewife in a tight dress during a ridiculous hand-to-hand fight in the back of a speeding limousine with a dead driver.
Nikita – La Femme Nikita (1990)
It was hard choose between Nikita or Maggie from Point of No Return. If the choice was based on how I feel about the movie, then it wouldn’t have been hard to choose, because Point of No Return was terrible. But it is based on just the hot femme fatale herself, and Bridget Fonda was definitely hot in Point of No Return. But there’s something about the seductive, French girl with a gun that I find sexier.
Xenia Onatopp – Goldeneye (1995)
Xenia Onatopp, played by Famke Janssen, is the quintessential example of a femme fatale. Female, beautiful, dangerous, and seductive. Not only does she use carnal desire as a way to trap her victim, but she also uses it to kill, crushing her coital partner with her thighs while still getting off. It’s a bit over the top, but it’s a Bond movie, so it’s acceptable. Plus, that’s how she likes it.
Mata Hari – Mata Hari (1931)
Mata Hari, the name synonymous with the femme fatale. The real life Mata Hari was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. She was a Dutch exotic dancer and prostitute that Greta Garbo looked nothing like. But that didn’t matter in 1931, and it often doesn’t matter today. What’s important is that Greta Garbo was hot. She’s even gorgeous by today’s standards, or maybe just my standards. During World War I, Mata Hari was convicted of spying for Germany and was executed by firing squad in 1917. There is still a lot of speculation to whether or not her spying is true, and that she may have been used as a scapegoat.
Pussy Galore – Goldfinger (1964)
Pussy is often ranked as one of the top Bond Girls, and is certainly one of the top spy movie femme fatales. The sultry, blonde-haired Honor Blackman portrayed Pussy Galore at 37 years old, making her the oldest woman to play a Bond Girl. She was also older than Mr. Bond himself, who was 34. In the documentary Bond Girls Are Forever, Blackman notes that she knew Ian Fleming had written Galore as a lesbian. And considering the way Honor Blackman looked in 1964, a lesbian Pussy Galore is pretty hot, too.
What femme fatales would be on your list?