Cover image for Dangerous dames : women and representation in the Weimar street film and film noir
Dangerous dames : women and representation in the Weimar street film and film noir
Wager, Jans B., 1958-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : Ohio University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xvi, 159 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.F44 W35 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Both film noir and the Weimar street film hold a continuing fascination for film spectators and film theorists alike. The female characters, especially the alluring femmes fatales, remain a focus for critical and popular attention. In the tradition of such attention, Dangerous Dames focuses on the femme fatale and her antithesis, the femme attrapée.

Unlike most theorists, Jans Wager examines these archetypes from the perspective of the female spectator and rejects the persistence of vision that allows a reading of these female characters only as representations of unstable postwar masculinity. Professor Wager suggests that the woman in the audience has always seen and understood these characters as representations of a complex aspect of her existence.

Dangerous Dames looks at the Weimar street films The Street , Variety , Asphalt , and M and the film noir movies The Maltese Falcon , Gun Crazy , and The Big Heat . This book opens the doors to spectators and theorists alike, suggesting cinematic pleasures outside the bounds of accepted readings and beyond the narrow categorization of film noir and the Weimar street film as masculine forms.

Author Notes

Jans B. Wager is an assistant professor of English at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Offering intriguing readings of Weimar films of the 1920s and '30s (The Street, Variety, Asphalt, M) and noir films of the '40s and '50s (The Maltese Falcon, Gun Crazy, The Big Heat), Wager (Utah Valley State College) looks at what women get out of films in which female characters serve as foils for masculine identity and desire. The author also elaborates similarities in the two genres, revealing continuity in the "melodramatic imagination" and parallels in their respective postwar sociocultural contexts (numerous influential Weimar directors ended up in Hollywood--Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, Douglas Sirk, Billy Wilder, et al.). Wager advances her argument with a new concept--the femme attrapee as counterpart to the dangerous femme fatale. An archetypal nurturing woman trapped in the burdensome, repressive, dull environment of the home front, the femme attrapee represents the possibility for the reintegration of the alienated male into a "stable world of secure values, roles, and identities." Wager charts the evolving relationship of these two female types, who both evince an increase in the female characters' activity and narrative "agency." Though film noir more virulently chastises and "contains" these daring "dames," both genres offer the female spectator female characters who are "active, adventurous and driven by sexual desire." Upper-division undergraduates and above. E. Williams; Texas A&M University