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Film / The Girl with the Pistol

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The Girl with the Pistol (La ragazza con la pistola) is a 1968 film from Italy directed by Mario Monicelli.

The film opens in a Sicilian seaside town. Vincenzo, a small-time mafia goon, has his flunkies kidnap a bride for him, because apparently that's the sort of thing people do in Sicily. Only it turns out that his flunkies kidnapped the wrong woman, bringing him Assunta Patanè (Monica Vitti) when Vincenzo really wanted Assunta's cousin. Now that he snatched her away, Assunta demands that Vincenzo marry her, because apparently that's the sort of thing people do in Sicily. After he agrees to marry her, Vincenzo takes Assunta's virginity.

Come the morning, and Assunta wakes to find Vincenzo gone. She soon discovers that he has left the country, and in fact has taken a job at an Italian restaurant in Scotland. Unfortunately she is now a fallen woman who has dishonored her family. Neither Assunta nor her sisters can get married until either Vincenzo marries her or one of her brothers kills Vincenzo—but Assunta has no brothers. So she gets a gun and heads off to Scotland in pursuit of the man that jilted her. Various romantic and comedic hijinks ensue as Assunta crisscrosses the island of Great Britain, looking for Vincenzo, but possibly finding love elsewhere along the way.

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The Girl with the Pistol provides examples of:

  • Afraid of Blood: Assunta is at least theoretically on a mission of murder but she's pretty scared of violence. She winds up pursuing Vincenzo to the ER of a hospital, where she looks through an operating room window and sees a patient being opened up. She faints.
  • The Alleged Car: The ridiculous jalopy that the mafia goons use to kidnap Assunta. As they are struggling to get away, her mother and cousin fight to stop them, and manage to rip a door off.
  • Blatant Lies: Assunta claims that she was "ravished by force" and she was "cold as marble!", when in fact she was very receptive to Vincenzo's charms and had sex with him willingly.
  • Call-Back: The scene where Assunta discovers Vincenzo abandoned her has her lying facedown on the bed, reaching over as she wakes up, and discovering that the other side of the bed is empty. The scene at the end, where Vincenzo discovers that Assunta has abandoned him and instead left for the ferry to the island of Jersey where Dr. Osborne is, is shot the same way with the roles reversed.
  • Contrived Coincidence
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    • Dr. Osborne and Assunta only find each other again after he randomly runs into her at an anti-war protest.
    • Assunta only finds out that Vincenzo isn't dead after randomly stumbling across him (and his new girlfriend) while accompanying Dr. Osborne to get his divorce decree.
  • Defiled Forever: The attitude held by Assunta's family and all the villagers, forcing her to find Vincenzo and either marry him or kill him.
  • Dream Sequence: Assunta has multiple dreams where she's being heckled and insulted by the people of her village. She also has a recurring dream of Vincenzo appearing in a Scottish kilt. In another dream she suddenly finds herself wearing hooker clothes as the Moral Guardians of the village call her a whore.
  • Drives Like Crazy
    • John the factory worker takes Assunta on a death-defying ride through the streets of Sheffield that ends in him slicing across a soccer field as a shortcut, Assunta praying to the Virgin Mary and the saints the whole way.
    • Frank does the same, careening through the streets of his town and similarly cutting across a green field, before plowing through his own picket fence and knocking over his own birdhouse as he finally comes to a stop in his front yard.
  • Faking the Dead: Eventually Vincenzo fakes his own death to stop Assunta from pursuing him. It works, as he goes so far as to have a gravestone made, and she buys it—until she randomly stumbles across him later in London.
  • Fish out of Water: A lot of humor from Assunta the fiery Italian signorina in Britain. Assunta, working as a maid in Scotland, opens the door to find a man in a kilt. She shuts the door and then tells her mistress that there's a man dressed as a woman outside. After her mistress tells her to let the man in, Assunta does. Then she retreats to a side room and cackles with laughter. In another scene she has to hitch a ride in the back of a hot dog truck as she pursues Vincenzo.
  • Love Triangle: Having gone so far as Faking the Dead in order to avoid her, Vincenzo becomes much more interested in Assunta again after she gets work as a model and he starts seeing her on London billboards. The last act of the film has a Love Triangle develop between Assunta, Vincenzo, and her other admirer, Dr. Osborne.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Assunta agrees to stay in the home of John the factory worker, but insists they will sleep in separate beds. John agrees. They are sitting on his couch and he is watching rugby on TV when she says she doesn't understand him, that he's a man and she's a woman and she's in his house and he watches TV instead of making a move on her. John takes this as a signal, and embraces Assunta—only for her to fight back and eventually threaten to stab him with a fork. After that he goes into his bedroom and locks the door.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Assunta goes off to watch John's rugby match. Sure enough, someone is hurt badly enough that he has to be taken away by stretcher and ambulance. Who's the ambulance driver? Vincenzo, that's who.
  • Stupid Crooks: The mafia mooks who kidnap the wrong woman.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Assunta as she wakes up in bed and finds out that Vincenzo has left.
  • Translation Convention: Inconsistently applied. Oddly, it seems nearly everyone Assunta runs into in Britain speaks fluent Italian—not just handsome Dr. Osborne, but the nurse at the hospital, and the security guard, and charming Frank that asks her to marry him, and others. Yet in other scenes the convention is not in effect, like when Assunta's boss has to translate for her, or when she takes English classes after deciding to stay.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Dr. Osborne is not impressed when Assunta says she and Frank are engaged. He shows her why by taking Assunta to Frank's Local Hangout...a gay bar. And it seems Frank tried to kill himself over a dude.
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