Black Widow is a 1987 thriller starring Theresa Russell and Debra Winger.
6 out of 10 stars. Theresa Russell is excellent in this role. Debra Winger not so much. And the film is definitely showing it’s age. The end scene is done particularly badly.
The film begins with Catherine Peterson, a 31 year old beautiful blue-eyed blonde, mourning the death of her millionaire publisher husband of some rare brain disorder called Ondine’s curse. It renders the part of the brain that controls breathing unable to send signals so the person stops breathing. Convenient if you’re a black widow who kills her husbands. Immediately after her husband’s funeral she pours his bottle of scotch down the drain. Already I’m suspecting poison. (Nice foreshadowing.)
Zoom ahead two months and she’s married to a Texan toy manufacturer and is considerably more skanky. She goes to a bank vault, opens her safety deposit box, and removes a bottle of wine from her purse. Inside the safety deposit box is a vial of liquid and a needle and syringe. She injects the liquid through the cork of the bottle, puts everything back where it was and leaves with the now poisoned bottle of wine back in her purse. Her new husband dies that evening, conveniently while she is out of town. That’s her MO. She is always out of town when her husband’s meet their fate so no one suspects her.
Alex Barnes works for the Justice Department gathering intelligence data. She comes across a mafia don who died mysteriously of Ondine’s curse. She suspects his young wife who survived him but isn’t sure how to prove it since she was out of town at the time of her husband’s death. Then Alex comes across another death of Ondine’s curse three months later and then a third three months after that.
Meanwhile our black widow has married again, this time a millionaire antique and art curator. He’s allergic to penicillin so she goes to a high priced private doctor and gets a prescription for penicillin and injects that into her husband’s drink. He conveniently dies while she is out of town.
Back at the Justice Department, Alex has convinced her boss to let her investigate this series of deaths on her own time. She poses as a cub reporter and interviews the Executive Assistant of husband #2, the millionaire publisher. Then she interviews the sister of husband #4, the art curator. The photos of the wives are the same person. She discovers the black widow bought a ticket to Hawaii so she flies there and becomes Jessica.
Jessica immediately befriends the black widow, now going by the name of Rennie Walker. Rennie is already the lover of famous French millionaire hotelier Paul. Rennie eventually figures out who Jessica is and frames her for Paul’s murder. What she doesn’t know is that Paul is not dead. Jessica told Paul about Rennie and he believed her. So they faked his death and put Jessica in jail to elicit a confession from Rennie. Unfortunately that last scene is really poorly done.
6 out of 10 stars. Ondine’s curse is actually real.