- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

In “Notes on a Scandal,” Dame Judi Dench plays a repressed lesbian teacher who preys on a vulnerable younger colleague (Cate Blanchett). Her frightening portrait of self-delusion and single-minded malice immediately takes an honored place in a chilling gallery of creepy and sometimes dangerous screen harpies.

Glenn Close, “Fatal Attraction” — No discarded film lover has ever matched the revenge Miss Close exacted on philanderer Michael Douglas — faking a pregnancy, kidnapping a child and stewing a beloved pet bunny, among other things. Consider her the ultimate embodiment of that old saw, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

Olivia de Havilland, “Hush … Hush Sweet Charlotte” — Though usually demure on-screen, Miss de Havilland has a high ol’ time as a conniving Southern belle who, with Joseph Cotten, conspires to drive her aging cousin Charlotte (Bette Davis) over the edge by making her recall the gruesome murder of her former lover in the 1920s.

Gloria Swanson, “Sunset Boulevard” — As faded and demented silent-screen star Norma Desmond, Miss Swanson uttered one of Hollywood’s most memorable lines, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up,” while descending a grand Gothic staircase after fatally shooting her much younger companion, Joe Gillis (William Holden).

Faye Dunaway, “Mommy Dearest” — In channeling the real-life harridanlike behavior of broad-shouldered screen queen Joan Crawford, a heavily made up and shrill Miss Dunaway gave new meaning to the phrase, “No wire hangers … ever.”

Angela Lansbury in “The Manchurian Candidate” — Before Miss Lansbury played the grandmotherly detective Jessica Fletcher in “Murder She Wrote,” she was the Machiavellian mother in this 1962 classic. Is there anything worse than a woman who sacrifices the sanity of her own son to a political cause?

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