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Black Widow (1987, Debra Winger, Theresa Russell)



An unusual woman-to-woman thriller. Debra Winger takes the lead as a federal investigator who is studying files relating to the death of a millionaire when she begins to suspect that foul play has been involved. As she delves deeper into this case, she comes across a number of other cases that are similar in nature to the first one. As she investigates the deaths, she becomes aware that each of the dead men appear to have been married to a beautiful young woman just before they died. What’s more, it appears to have been the same young woman – Theresa Russell – in each case.

Determined to nail Russell, Winger travels to Seattle to warn Russell’s latest husband (Nicol Williamson) of the danger he’s in. He ignores her warnings and ends up dead. As a result of this, Winger goes undercover to gather the evidence on Russell.

Posing as a secretary, Winger becomes friendly with Russell and accompanies her to Hawaii, where she has her eye on a new victim, Sami Frey. However, her job is complicated when she begins to realize that she is falling in love with Frey and is beginning to enjoy the battle of wits with Russell.

Movie trivia collectors should look out for the scene where Winger is playing poker – her partner is playwright David Mamet.

Said Motion Picture Guide : ‘Both Russell and Winger give solid performances, and the memory of the complex interplay between their ultimately not-so-different characters lingers long after the film has ended.’ Says Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun Times : ‘The acting in this movie is good throughout, especially in the chemistry between Winger and Russell.’

production details
USA | 102 minutes | 1987

Director: Bob Rafelson
Script: Ronald Bass,

Theresa Russell as Catharine Petersen
Nicol Williamson as William McCrory
Debra Winger as Alexandra ‘Alex’ Barnes
Lois Smith as Sara
Leo Rossi as Ricci
James Hong as H. Shin – Honolulu private investigator
Sami Frey as Paul Nuytten
Dennis Hopper as Ben Dumers
Terry O’Quinn as Bruce, Alex’s Boss
Diane Ladd as Etta
D.W. Moffett as Michael
Danny Kamekona as Detective
Rutanya Alda as Irene
Mary Woronov as Shelley
David Mamet as Herb