- Movie Rating -

Black Widow (1987)

| February 6, 1987

I know almost nothing about the making of Black Widow but like anyone seeing the TV ads, I suspect that this movie started out as a thriller about heated lesbian affair.  I have a feeling that may have been on the mind of writer Ronald Bass because it hangs heavily over the tension between an agent from the DOJ and a woman who marries wealthy men, kills them, and collects before movie westward.

The lesbian angle is a vapor that hangs heavily over these two women and I suspect that if this were a film made by a European director it might have gone that way.  But American studios are reluctant to features such a coupling due to the danger of it hurting the box office or possibly the careers of stars Debra Winger and Teresa Russell.  I say, if you never try, you’ll never know.

The movie opens with a series of murders that, with a change in editing, might have been fit for a comedy.  A beautiful woman named Catherine (that’s Russell) marries and soon murders a wealthy publishing magnate.  She inherits his estate and moves to Dallas where she changes her name and marries the owner of a toy company.  She murders him too before moving on to Seattle.

At this point we meet Alexandera (that’s Winger) a woman who seems far too mousey to work for the Justice Department, but nevermind.  She starts noticing some newspaper articles relating to a series of deaths of millionaires across the country.  They have nothing in common except that they all seemed to have died in their sleep.  Somehow, some way she connects them all and suspects that the same woman has been responsible for all of these deaths – despite the fact that the woman has changed her name and her appearance in each case.  The mystery of what is uncovering is not much of a mystery since the movie introduced us to the killer first, but okay.

After a lot of useless scenes of Alexandera’s home life, she begins to suspect that the next victim might by a wealthy art dealer (Nicol Williamson) but is too late to save him.  She then puts together who the next victim will be (are you following this?) and follows her to Hawaii where the two women meet and become friends.

Yes, there is a lot of erotic tension here, and even a kiss, but the movie back away from it.  It gets nervous just when things are getting interesting.  The movie foregoes any kind of real danger in their attraction to go for violence and a happy ending – a heterosexual happy ending.  I don’t understand this.  Why pander to the audience by treating them like children rather than challenging them like forward thinking adults.  The attraction between two women who are at odds would make for great drama.  The movie brings the lesbian angle into the room but seems to check it at the door.  The ending is preposterous, conventional and disappointing. 

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Thriller