Taglines: She mates and she kills.
Catherine is a black widow. “She mates and then she kills”. Black Widow is the story of a lady (Catherine) who marries lonely millionaires, waits until they’ve changed their will to leave all to their beloved wives and then murders them to inherit the fortune.
With each man Catherine marries, she changes her appearance to suit the mans personality. Only there’s one problem. Alexandra is a smart cookie and has found a link between these unexplained mysterious deaths and the partners wives. But now her only problem is proving that a killer is on the loose and saving herself from the deadly Black Widow.
Black Widow is a 1987 American film noir thriller film starring Debra Winger, Theresa Russell, Sami Frey and Nicol Williamson. Dennis Hopper has a short role at the beginning of the film. It is a crime drama about two women: one who murders wealthy men whom she has married for their money (and keeps moving west), and the other an agent with the Department of Justice who grows obsessed with bringing her to justice. It was directed by Bob Rafelson, from a screenplay by Ronald Bass. The story takes on the form of a travelogue, as the murderess moves from New York to Dallas to Seattle and finally to Hawaii.
About the Story
The story centers on two women. Catherine (Theresa Russell) is a psychopathic femme fatale who preys on wealthy middle-aged men, seducing them into marriage and then fatally poisoning them. Each death is misdiagnosed as Ondine’s curse, a condition by which seemingly healthy middle-aged men die in their sleep. Justice Department agent Alexandra “Alex” Barnes (Debra Winger) stumbles onto the first murder while investigating another case. As Alex delves further into the case, she uncovers a pattern which she believes ties the same woman to several similar murders.
Using exhaustive research and preparation as well as identity and appearance changes, Catherine weaves her web anew with each murder, killing a publishing magnate, a toy maker (Dennis Hopper), and a museum curator (Nicol Williamson), and is quickly moving on to her next victim: Paul Nuytten (Sami Frey), an international hotel tycoon. Later, she reveals that she has been married six times, and possibly has murdered all her husbands.
After the death of the rich, lonely museum curator in Seattle, Alex’s boss Bruce (Terry O’Quinn) gives her tacit permission to hunt down the killer, and Alex goes undercover as “Jessie Bates” to track down Catherine and identify her next potential victim. The trail leads from Seattle to Hawaii, where Catherine is moving on Paul.
With the aid of a private investigator, “Jessie” arranges to meet Catherine; the two women become friends. Catherine arranges for them to compete for Paul’s affection; he’s attracted to “Jessie,” but falls for Catherine’s charm and her stylishly executed seduction. Catherine marries him and, during the reception, reveals to “Jessie” that the “black widow” knows about the federal agent.
“Jessie” tries to warn Paul of Catherine’s murderous intentions but he is skeptical, refusing to believe she is after his money; in the event of either of their deaths, their wills both stipulate that their net worth be left to the Cancer Foundation and not to each other. The private investigator is found dead of a suspicious drug overdose, after Catherine had forced him at gunpoint to inject himself.
After Paul’s apparent death, Catherine accuses “Jessie” of killing him, and “Jessie” is arrested when the police find poison in her room. Catherine meets with Paul’s attorney, who explains that Paul was a resident of Florida, and according to state law, a spouse has the right to overturn charitable bequests stipulated in their spouse’s will. Catherine then tells the attorney that shortly before his death, Paul had expressed “profound reservations” about the Cancer Foundation.
Black Widow (1987)
Directed by: Bob Rafelson
Starring: Debra Winger, Theresa Russell, Sami Frey, Dennis Hopper, Nicol Williamson, Terry O’Quinn, Diane Ladd, Rutanya Alda, Mary Woronov, Danny Kamekona
Screenplay by: Ronald Bass
Production Design by: Gene Callahan
Cinematography by: Conrad L. Hall
Film Editing by: John Bloom
Costume Design by: Patricia Norris
Set Decoration by: Jim Duffy, Buck Henshaw, Rick Simpson
Music by: Michael Small
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 6, 1987