Bob Rafelson directs this dark psychological thriller about the seductive interplay between two intriguing women. Catharine (THERESA RUSSELL) is a sultry beauty who meticulously sets her traps. Alex (DEBRA WINGER) is a f... more »ederal sleuth who just as meticulously uncovers what no one else suspects-that this femme fatale tricks wealthy men into marrying her, then kills them to inherit their fortunes. Soon Alex's obsession with the mysterious Catharine draws her deeper and deeper into danger.« less
Pete L. (PeteL) from MELBOURNE, FL Reviewed on 6/14/2011...
Of some of the other Debra Winger movies I've seen here, this one (to me), has got to be my all-time favorite. I might not be into many of her dramas (Shadowlands, Terms of Endearment), but she has some great suspenseful potential here. The mysterious confrontations between her and Russell are a great working combination. There might not be any bonus features, (besides full & widescreen versions and movies trailers), but this is a great movie altogether. E. Loop
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Two Person Noir
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 06/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can just about forget everyone else in this film other than Debra Winger and Theresa Russell. This sexy film is basically a two person film noir shot in bright colors, some of it in Hawaii. It is filled with excitement and seduction. Both the leads are wonderful to watch, their chemistry magnificent in this Bob Rafelson (Man Trouble, Five Easy Pieces) film.
Debra Winger is Alex Barnes, bogged down in a government desk job dealing with statistics. But when she sees a pattern of deaths that lead to Theresa Russell, a dangerously beautiful woman with ice in her veins, she becomes obsessed with catching a killer. Theresa Russell, who has used more names than Jason Bourne, is just as smart as she is sexy, and almost the entire film is one long seduction scene as Russell spins her web around Alex.
It seems a lot of rich men have suddenly died on Russell and Alex knows why. She is what is called a Black Widow, a woman who mates and then kills. No one has found any evidence to prove it, however, and Alex's attempt to catch her at it becomes murky as a seduction begins to take place.
The locations and the stars are beautiful and as Winger and Russell circle each other in this game with deadly stakes you can't take your eyes off them. Winger's Alex is smart and determined, but vulnerable, and Russell gives a flawless and sexy performance as a smart and icy beauty with a heart full of venom.
The electricity between the two characters jumps off the screen. The pool scene where they first meet gives us an indication of what is to come as Alex attempts to get close to Russell, with some unexpected twists. The formost of these is a scene when Alex gives Russell a Black Widow pendant, a spider who mates and kills its lover. Russell's response plays with the fragile but determined Alex as she begins to doubt herself.
You don't want to miss this one. It's gorgeous to look at and has two riveting performances from Winger and Russell. You can't find a better one than this."
Solid, attractive suspenser
C. Ebeling | PA USA | 11/27/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, the story is preposterous and technologically dated, and some of the dialogue is melodramatic in a retro kind of way. That said, BLACK WIDOW still makes good viewing because it remains true to itself and the premises it has set up, and Debra Winger and Theresa Russell do a smashing job on their characters. It also has an interesting style, managing a noir atmosphere even while filming a considerable portion of the story in the bright sunshine of Hawaii and dressing the leads in the blues and red-oranges of '80s fashions.Debra Winger plays a bright young unattached woman in a drab, stultifying life as a statistics accountant for the federal government. She does not openly indulge in self pity, but when she identifies a wisp of a possible crime in the statistics she compiles, she sells all her possessions and quits her job to pursue the case on her own. The case surrounds Theresa Russell's character who Winger believes marries older men and somehow precipitates their deaths to reap their inheritances, what is called a black widow. This is all established with swift efficiency, as is the guilt of Russell's character. The suspense lies in if and how Alex will corner her black widow, who is equally intelligent. The two make a sensational pairing, circling around each other, getting closer and closer.Leonard Maltin's movie guide says the film doesn't deliver the big pay-off. That depends upon what kind of pay-off you are looking for. I happen to think it did deliver."
She mates and she kills...
jon sieruga | Redlands, CA USA | 04/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fiesty Federal Investigator is hot on the trail of a husband-killer, but to catch her she has to think like the killer thinks and play her game...I would love to see a rematch of these two dynamite femme stars, Debra Winger and Theresa Russell. The movie world needs them. Russell, as an actress, generally lacks Winger's inner-fire, but some of her close-ups are more revealing than her dialogue anyway(watch for the scene on the beach after the scuba diving accident). In 1987, this was considered a modest hit which got generally good reviews(Roger Ebert panned it, however). So it's fair to say the movie is highly underrated and should be seen by anyone who loves a good mystery or a great acting match between two top-flight stars. Supporting performances are also very good, and the direction is tricky & tight right up until the final scene(which seems a little rushed). Great cinematography, suspenseful music by Michael Small, incredible Winger & Russell!"
Don't Miss the Kiss of the Spider
Darby Grey | Casablanca by the Sea FL | 07/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I caught this movie on HBO in 1988-15 years later, I can still sit through it from beginning to end with out being the least bored. It is one of my favorite great movies that few people seem to know about.
Debra Winger is perfect as feisty Government agent, Alex, who notices a pattern and sets out to find the Black Widow-Theresa Russell, who reminds me a lot of Kathleen Turner in "Body Heat".
I would like to see more of her movies, as her portrayal of the woman Alex hunts down, is complex and compelling.
There are enough twists and turns to always keep your attention, and as other reviewers note, the scenery is spectacular.
The peripheral actors are well cast, and you find yourself caring about every one in the movie...and wondering what makes the Black Widow tick."
A Very Stylish Thriller
Stephen M. Moser | Austin, Texas USA | 01/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What ever happened to Debra Winger's career? Was it all the gossip about how difficult she was to work with? Or was she simply a victim of the public's changing tastes? Coming to prominence in 1980's *Urban Cowboy*, followed by the smash hits *An Officer and a Gentleman* and *Terms of Endearment*. Even though she was nominated for Oscars several times, it was downhill from there, but Winger was in peak form for what has been regularly described as "a stylish thriller." Paired with Theresa Russell (a most intriguing actress with a score of bad films behind her - think *Whore*), Winger plays a federal agent on the tail of a chameleon-like young woman (Russell) who marries wealthy men and kills them. The plot is gripping and relatively fast-paced and Winger and Russell are excellent counterpoints to each other - Winger is earthy and likable and Russell is sexy and sinister. There is an interesting array of men playing Russell's victims, including Dennis Hopper in a cameo, with a deliciously calculating Diane Ladd playing his sister. The locales and interiors are suitably lush, though the inescapable hallmarks of the 80s regularly remind us that, though the film is almost 20 years old, it was done with enormous style - then and now."