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"She's a great kid. You can always trust double-cross you." Flaxy Martin is one of the most fatal of femme fatales ever to sear the screen - and provides a white-hot showcase role for the undersung Virginia Mayo, ounce for ounce matching in menace her White Heat costar James Cagney in his stone-cold criminality that same year. Spinning a web of lies, the nasty nightclub chanteuse ensnares one lover, unsuspecting mob attorney Walter Colby (Zachary Scott), into taking the rap for a murder, while stringing along her other squeeze, gangster Hap Richie (Douglas Kennedy), for all he's worth. The one fly in this spider-woman's ointment: Colby escapes en route to prison and, rescued and restored by good-girl librarian Nora Carson (Dorothy Malone), he plots to return and clear his name. With dialogue by David Lang so hard-boiled you'll grin with noirish glee and a delicious performance by The Maltese Falcon's Elisha Cook Jr. in fullbore wisecracking gunsel mode, this tale of a deadly dame duping one chump too many is a helluva ride.

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WAA569531 Flaxy Martin DVD (1949/Virginia Mayo) $19.99