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The Last Seduction

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Looking to escape her unhappy marriage, villainous femme fatale Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino) convinces her husband, Clay (Bill Pullman), to sell cocaine, then steals the profits and runs out on him. She stops in a small town en route to Chicago, where she ensnares her next conquest, insurance man Mike Swale (Peter Berg). After getting a job at his insurance company, Bridget convinces Mike to run a scam — but things take a deadly turn when she recruits him to help get rid of her husband.

John Dahl’s modern-day dark noir featured lethal, sexy, amoral, self-serving, cold-blooded, manipulative and brainy femme fatale Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino, whose superb performance wasn’t Oscar nominated due to invalidation since it aired first on HBO cable TV). [She followed in the footsteps of two other great femme fatales in film noir – Jane Greer and Barbara Stanwyck.] The sequel was director Terry Marcel’s Last Seduction 2 (1998) with Joan Severance.

She first absconded with her physician husband Clay’s (Bill Pullman) $700,000 of pharmaceutical-cocaine drug money, and fled from NYC to Upper State New York to the small town of Beston near Buffalo. In the local Ray’s Bar after she was ignored by the bartender, she muttered: “Who’s a girl gotta suck around here to get a drink?” She was approached by the local, gullible bar pickup stud Mike Swale (Peter Berg) who bragged about his size: “I’m hung like a horse. Think about it.” She responded: “Mr. Ed, let’s see,” and then opened his pants as he sat next to her in a booth to sample his manly goods: “I believe what we’re looking for is a certain horse-like quality?” She seduced and propositioned him: “No names. Meet me outside.” They went to his place to spend the night, after which she began scheming with her lawyer Frank Griffith (J.T. Walsh) to divorce her husband and abscond with the money. (He memorably asked her: “Anyone check you for a heartbeat lately?”)

She took a job in a local company, Interstate Insurance, as Director of Lead Generation, claiming she was alias Wendy Kroy (an acronym for New York) and was fleeing from her abusive husband. Hiding out, she took residence at the Beston Motor Court (and soon after rented a house), and frequented Ray’s Bar occasionally. She made love to Mike again, in an alley behind the smoky saloon while hanging on a chain-link fence and straddling him with his pants down to his ankles. When he asked, “Where do I fit in?” she coldy replied: “You’re my designated f–k.” Bumping and grinding later on top of him in the back of her Jeep, she admitted to her frequent sex partner: “I’m a total f–king bitch.” He complained that he was being kept at arm’s length like a “sex object.” To keep him at bay, she stated: “F–king doesn’t have to be anything more than f–king.”

Scheming, she tricked Clay’s black private detective Harlan (Bill Nunn) (who was hired to find her and get the funds back, and had traced her to Beston) into becoming distracted by showing his large penis to her while she was driving:

“Is it true what they say?…You know, size?…Now, come on, I was wondering for real. Let me see it…Come on, let me see it. I’ve never seen one before. I’ll show you my ass…Show me!…I’m driving. You go first.”

After he agreed and asked: “Will you shut the f–k up if I show you?”, he unbuckled his seat belt and unzipped his fly to expose himself. She deliberately sped up and crashed the car into a utility pole, killing him by propelling him through the windshield.

She took a taxi to Buffalo to the Erie County Municipal Building where she identified Mike’s earlier unwitting and mistaken marriage to a trans-sexual named Trish (Serena) – and then conducted an interview with Trish. She tricked Mike into thinking she had taken a weekend trip to Miami to murder Lance Collier, a cheating and abusive husband who deserved death. She claimed about the murder-for-profit scheme: “I did it for us, Mike,” and wouldn’t listen to his objections: “Spare me your brain with countrified morality. The world’s better off without Lance Collier” – and showed him a case of payoff cash (her own!) as “f–king evidence.” When he was astonished at her brashness, she threw the love-sick Mike out of her house.

She resisted Mike’s later apologies (she told him: “You have a way of making a woman feel like a one-way train ticket”), claiming that he needed to be her equal (“a relationship of equals”) in order to show his commitment and interest in her. He replied with a question: “Murder is commitment?” When Mike acquiesed, she cleverly convinced him into duplicating her scheme to show his love – to murder Clay (who was trumped up to be an unfaithful husband/cheater and wife beater in New York named ‘Cahill’). She claimed the payout would be over three million (“You, me, three million bucks, New York City, Mike. It’s reasonable”). And then to convince Mike to “pull up stakes” to leave Beston and accept her plan, she faked a letter from Trish to Mike asserting that she was returning to Beston to be with him.

The murder plan (an “unpleasant chore”) to stab Clay in his NYC apartment went awry when Mike went chicken and yelled: “I can’t do it, Wendy, I can’t do it” – and then he saw their wedding picture. He realized that the victim was not ‘Cahill’ but Wendy’s husband, and that he had been seduced into committing her husband’s murder.

Wendy entered the apartment to check on the killing, where she found both Clay and Mike had teamed up, and Mike knew of her deception (“So you were gonna have me kill your husband”). In a clever double-cross, Bridget killed her own husband by spraying Mace down his throat, after kissing him, and then calmly told her naive boyfriend: “Now we have a future.”

Then to complete the deception, she aggravated the ‘intruder’ Mike to rape her by first removing her pants and displaying old fashioned men’s underwear, reinforcing Mike’s fears of being homosexual. She then taunted him about Trish: “You should have told me you never slept with a man before. Must have been some wild night, you getting married so fast.” She angered him over his damaged marriage:

“He couldn’t believe it – had to keep the goods hidden for a whole two days. What did he tell ya – that little bobbly thing in the back of your throat was a clitoris!? You married a man, you farm faggot!…I’m Trish. Rape me.”

She also self-incriminated Mike by surreptitiously recording their conversation and the crime/rape confessional role-play on a 911 call, including the accusation that she repeatedly screamed out: “You killed my husband.” Mike was arrested, jailed and obviously out-maneuvered and set-up for the crime, and he was destined for the electric chair. The one remaining shred of evidence, Clay’s apartment label reading “Cahill,” was taken by rape-victim and widow Bridget in the final scene – she burned it in the back of a chauffeured limousine. She slyly smiled, finally free with the cash.

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Genre: (1990-1999), 1994, Bare breasts, Female Nudity, Mystery, Nudity, Romance, Sex, Thriller

Director: Benu Bhandari, John Dahl

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