Kathleen Turner Heats Up the Radio With Sultry Look at Cinema’s ‘Femmes Fatales’

Phyllis Dietrichson, Gilda Mundson Farrell and many more

Warner Bros.

Host what you know. That’s one way to sum up Femmes Fatales, a BBC Radio 4 special that debuted over the weekend with actress and author Kathleen Turner at the helm.

In 1981, Turner singed the screen as femme fatale Matty Walker in Body Heat. Speaking with Radio Times magazine assistant features editor Kasia Delgado about the one-hour BBC project, Turner recalled the great compliment she was paid about her debut film performance by Barbara Stanwyck, star of Double Indemnity, as well as some less elegant reaction among Hollywood’s young male stars of the time:

“I’ve never lived in L.A.,” says Turner, “but when I went out there, I would hear that certain actors had competitions to see who could get me.”

She adds, with shattering sarcasm, “That’s absolutely thrillllling, isn’t it?”

Did any of the men–she doesn’t say which red-blooded actors–win in the end? “No, doll. I thought that was pretty stupid. It just made me feel so objectified that I had no desire to do anything with these people.”

One of the great pleasures of Femmes Fatales is the juxtaposition of Turner’s raspy 62-year-old voice as host with clips of her dialogue from the 1981 film noir directed by Lawrence Kasdan and co-starring William Hurt. It’s bourbon meets water.

Other treats include the articulated thoughts of Carol Littleton, the editor of Body Heat, and some colorful analysis by various scholars of Rita Hayworth’s subversive 1946 landmark Gilda. For fans of classic film, this is a wonderful hour. Turner covers them all, from the aforementioned Stanwyck, to Lauren Bacall, Lana Turner and a certain animated femme fatale by the name of Jessica Rabbit.

Bookmark-listen to the BBC Radio 4 program, which Turner recorded in New York, here.

Previously on Fishbowl:
New Book Exposes Rita Hayworth-Glenn Ford Love Child