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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Web Weaving Woman
by Richard Jack Smith

Black Widow, where have you been all my life? This serpentine thriller directed by Bob Rafelson (from Ronald Bass’ screenplay) proves that charm and imagination can surpass eroticism. Of particular note, Theresa Russell gives a sublime portrayal of the femme fatale, made popular by Barbara Stanwyck (Double Indemnity) and Lana Turner (The Postman Always Rings Twice). She’s matched every step of the way by Debra Winger, terrific as a federal agent.

Catherine (Russell) marries Ben (Dennis Hopper), yet the latter dies suddenly. No foul play is suspected. Then another body turns up. Only Alexandra (Winger) can read between the lines i.e. strange disappearances, men with money etc. So, she heads to Hawaii in order to befriend the recent widow and build her case. However, this spider woman has more tricks up her sleeve than a con artist.

Credit filmmakers with story, characters and suspense on their minds. This was not the case when Paul Verhoeven made Basic Instinct. However, Black Widow owes more to post war interpretations of lust and greed. Therefore, love scenes ring a more suggestive tune than mere titillation.

Adding to which, cinematographer Conrad L. Hall adds a few masterful touches. During one scene, Miss Russell stands near a porch, her sharp silhouette echoing the body language of Lauren Bacall.

In short, Black Widow could lead somewhere predictable, yet we are left guessing until the end.

(Released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and rated "R" for adult situations, language and violence.)

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