Haworth, Catherine (2011) Nancy, Nancy, what'll you do to him now?: music, subjectivity and the femme fatale in 'The Locket'. In: Music and the Moving Image VI, May 20 – May 22, 2011, New York University. (Unpublished)

The femme fatale is one of the most distinctive characters associated with 1940s Hollywood crime
films, and is usually theorised as expressing anxieties about gendered roles and identities. The
soundtrack plays a significant role in the construction of the femme fatale's criminal and sexual immorality, frequently drawing upon existing stereotypes surrounding popular and 'non-Western' musical styles to articulate her difference. Although most commonly acting to fetishise the 'criminal' woman, this difference can also be celebrated as a means of resistance to dominant ideologies and as a site of significant audience engagement with problematic female characters.

These issues will be explored in relation to 'The Locket' (d. Brahm; c. Webb, 1946), a film that both reinforces and challenges existing theorisations of the cinematic relationship between female criminality and music. A psychologically-focused melodrama that unfolds in a series of nested flashbacks, the film's unusual structure and multiple voiceover narrators foreground the subjective nature of plot construction and characterisation, which impacts heavily upon the agency of its protagonists. 'The Locket's' score engages with issues of subjectivity, ownership, and gender identity, positioning and repositioning its femme fatale, Nancy, in a way that is characteristic of the particular approaches employed by the 1940s crime soundtrack to celebrating and neutralising the 'problem' of female sexuality. Music is used to stress Nancy's subjectivity whilst simultaneously aiding her containment, facilitating her multiple representations as a fetishised object of desire, a conniving gold-digger, and an unstable, infantilised killer and kleptomaniac.

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