But does she really love him? That’s always the question about these heroines-obsessive to the hero, central to the movie. De Carlo’s Anna [Criss-Cross], for example, is willing enough to betray her racketeer husband for love of Lancaster, but not willing to stay with him once the husband catches up with them. Not when she can take the money and run… It’s one of the noir heroine’s most invariable features that she is motivated by greed: she is poor and wants to be rich, or else she is rich and wants to be richer. She may inspire romantic dreams, but she doesn’t have them herself. Not like he does, anyway. That’s one of the advantages she has over him.
- James Harvey, Movie Love in the Fifties
NPR has posted under its You Must Read This feature, an interesting excerpt from Harvey’s book on the femme-fatale from the early 40′s to the late 50′s, with nicely drawn portraits of the femmes-fatale from The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Killers, Criss-Cross, The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, Pushover, Pitfall, Gun Crazy, The File on Thelma Jordan, The Locket, and Where Danger Lives.