Film / Five Branded Women

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/image_307.jpeg

Five Branded Women is a 1960 American/Italian war film directed by Martin Ritt and staring Silviana Mangano, Vera Miles, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jeanne Moreau, and Carla Gravina as the titular quintet. It's mostly remembered for being the reason why Vera Miles had to wear a wig while she was filming Psycho.

The film follows five women from a Yugoslavian village during World War II, all of whom slept with the same German soldier. As punishment, the villagers shave the women's heads and exile them from the village. The five band together and eventually join the partisans.

The film has recently come back to mainstream attention, being featured regularly on TV and has been praised as one of Ritt's better films. It puts a unique spin on the war drama by having the women involved in the actual combat as opposed to sitting on the sidelines.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Mom: Mira, who takes up the action while she's pregnant.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: The head-shaving is later followed by all five women becoming Action Girls.
  • The Baby Trap: Marja only slept with the German because she wanted a baby.
  • Bald Woman: Not fully bald, just close cropped.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Mira's baby being born coincides with the death of their German prisoner. It's justified since he uses the birth as a distraction to escape.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Jovanka stays behind with Reinhardt, knowing fully well that the enemy is approaching and they'll probably die soon. Their only hope is buying the others enough time to get away.
  • The Casanova: The German soldier. Also one of the partisans.
  • Chekhov's Gun: An immediate example. Jovanka takes a pistol off a dead soldier and a few minutes later uses it to kill a pair of soldiers who try to rape her and Ljuba.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The man who cuts Jovanka's hair at the start turns out to be the leader of the partisans.
  • Death by Sex: Daniza and one of the partisans are killed as punishment for sleeping together while they were supposed to be on watch.
  • Debate and Switch: Mira and Marja worry about what Mira's baby will be like when it's half-German. Their prisoner says "what if it's a good German" and the women icily reply "how can you tell which is which when they invade your country?" and that's all that's said.
  • Driven to Suicide: Daniza slits her wrist early on after everything that's happened, but the others convince her to keep going.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The women become such when they're forced to fend for each other.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The film implies as heavily as was possible in the 1960s that the German soldier gets castrated for sleeping with the town's women.
    "I'm no longer a man!"
  • Hairstyle Malfunction: Not a wig but the scarf Jovanka used to cover her baldness gets pulled off when a partisan tries to rape her. Seeing this he laughs and runs off.
  • I Have No Daughter/Sister: Ljuba's brother says he didn't stop them from cutting her hair because he agreed with them and Jovanka's mother only gives her a scarf for her head before sending her away from the village.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Branco is a lech who looks like he's going to rape Jovanka early on, but this is forgotten when the women join the partisans. But after he and Daniza are caught having sex while on watch, his runs out and he gets killed as punishment.
  • Morality Pet: Mira is The Cutie of the group and she's pregnant when they're forced out of the village, so they're all very protective of her.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Most of the cast just use their own accents, though they do have many European actors in there as well.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The partisans plan to ambush the Nazis as they are holding a festival in Jovanka's hometown. She does not object to the townspeople being killed either because they are the same people who ousted her from the village.
  • La Résistance: The partisans, natch.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The film ends with Jovanka and Velkos staying behind in the trench to hold off German soldiers. They will surely die when the soliders reach them.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Jovanka and Daniza accomplish nothing, Daniza being killed by the partisans and Jovanka implied to eventually die when the soldiers reach the trench.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When the partisans come to Jovanka's house she is shameless for sleeping with the German and puts them in their place. Too bad that only made them madder.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The male partisans try to invoke this but the women are having none of it. Of course Mira and Marja end up staying behind because Mira's in labour and they also have to guard their prisoner.
  • Team Mom: Marja appears to be the oldest of the women, and is very motherly towards them.
  • The Unfair Sex: Something of an inversion as when a man and a woman get caught having sex in the bushes when they're supposed to be on watch, the woman is punished too despite the man being the one who initiated everything.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All five of the women, who join the partisans.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Truth in Television, all five women get their hair cut off for sleeping with the German soldier. Only Jovanka's is actually shown on screen.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/FiveBrandedWomen