Salt opened this past weekend to middling reviews and middling box office; the consensus appears to be that people are more or less in the middle on it. But it does do one thing well; it features a female secret agent who can handle herself. She's not used to seduce male bad guys, nor is she made to slip behind enemy lines. And she definitely, definitely does not need to be rescued by a male spy. (This is probably because the project was originally conceived for a male star, but nonetheless, it's a step in the right direction.) Here are seven of the best female spies and secret agents before Salt.
1. Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) in Notorious (1946)
Alicia is a reluctant spy. After her father is accused of being a traitor and commits suicide, Alicia is called in to help make up for this smudge on the family name. She is asked to woo and marry Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), who may be running a Nazi group in South America and dealing in uranium. Unfortunately, before all this can take place, Alicia falls madly in love with her contact man, Devlin (Cary Grant). A better spy might notice when someone tries to poison her, but Alicia can be forgiven for being distracted. Screenwriter Robert Towne loosely borrowed this scenario for Tom Cruise and Thandie Newton in Mission: Impossible II (2000).