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Film / The Incredible Army of Brancaleone

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"Leon Leon Leon".

L'Armata Brancaleone, known to English-speakers as The Incredible Army of Brancaleone and For Love and Gold is an Italian comedy movie released in 1966, written by the famous duo Age & Scarpelli and directed by Mario Monicelli. It features Vittorio Gassman in the main role. It was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.

The film is set in the tragically realistic Italy during the Middle Ages. After mugging a valiant but wounded German Knight, some raiders find out that he was going to inherit the fief of Aurocastro. The bandits manage to persuade the fallen knight Brancaleone of Norcia to go to the fief in lieu of the German Knight and take possession of it, sharing the goods with the others, of course. So the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits (or Armata Brancaleone) start its long journey towards the fief, meeting up with various characters on their way, including a princess, a fanatical priest who want to force them to join the crusade, a fallen byzantine prince and many others.


The film was a great success and soon became extremely popular, so much that the term "Armata Brancaleone" has become a canon sinonym for, well, Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.

A sequel, called Brancaleone alle Crociate (Brancaleone at the Crusades) was filmed in 1970 and met with some success as well. This time, Brancaleone along with a ragtag army of underdogs is going to embark on The Crusades, but his army is destroyed and because of his long tongue he gets involved in a deal with The Grim Reaper: he'll have "8 moons" of time to find a worthy end. Furthermore he stumble across Filderico, the infant child of the Sicilian King Boemondo, and decides to bring him back to his father to savety. Along with a renewed, improbable gang he start his quest towards the Holy Land.


The first film contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Steed: Aquilante, "Mala Bestia" (Foul Beast). Who may also be a mule, judging from the ears.
  • An Axe to Grind: Brancaleone has an axe in his inventory and once boasted about how he beheaded an enemy knight with an axe.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Brancaleone is the most glaring example.
  • Bastard Bastard: Teofilatto, so that his father disowns him and refuse to pay the ransom for his freedom.
  • Battle Cry: "BRANCA BRANCA BRANCA!!" (others): "Leon Leon Leon!". It reached the Memetic Mutation status in Italy for a lot of time.
  • BFS: Brancaleone's broadsword is very long and seems unwieldy, but he can use it just well.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the finale, the German Knight from the beginning of the movie come along and save everyone from the Saracens, but then plans to take revenge on our heroes... who are promptly "saved" by the monk Zenone who drags them to the crusades.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Zig-zagged: when Pecoro falls from the bridge, he's later rescued by a female bear who keeps him with her. Later his companions rescue him but have to outrun the bear.
  • Berserk Button: Brancaleone goes mad When Teofilatto reveals that he was the one who slept with Matelda.
  • Black Knight: The German knight is a non-malevolent example, despite his sinister appearance with black cloak and armor, he only fights against bandits and pirates. He is still very ruthless and vengeful as he plans to burn Brancaleone and his army at the stake for trying to steal Aurocastro from him. His crusader knights who arrive during the climax to fight the Saracens also qualify since they dress like him.
  • Black Widow: Teodora is implied to be one.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Brancaleone.
  • Cool Helmet:Brancaleone frequently sports several kind of cool-looking helmets, including a Greek-looking one.
  • Crapsack World: Even though it's played for laughs, Medieval Italy is a depressingly bleak place to live: Hungarian raiders and Saracen pirates terrorize the land, plague-stricken cities are completely depopulated and the peasantry live in constant filth with the only comfort being found in joining a crusade, which can be lead by crazy clergyman like Zenone.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The Saracen pirates plan to impale Brancaleone and co, leading to the following exchange:
    Brancaleone:"At least try to die as true men!"
    Teofilatto:" You'd call ''this'' "dying as true men"?!
  • Damsel in Distress: Matelda, who get's saved by some pillagers by Brancaleone.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The German knight from the opening shows himself to be a fierce and valiant fighter that singlehandedly manages to scare off a raiding party attacking a innocent village. You'd think he would be the movie's lead but he dies when some of the survivors knock him out with a rock to steal his possessions and then dump his body into the river. He returns at the very end of the movie to exact revenge on them. Even the trailer lampshades this when it narrates Medieval Italy is embroiled in turmoil and only one hero can save it... And that is not him.
  • Decadent Court: The Byzantine castle.
  • Death Glare: The German knight gives a very chilly one to the bandits when he briefly regains consciousness after being knocked out by them. He does it again in the climax when they re-encounter him after he "saved" them from the Saracens.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In the Byzantine castle, Brancaleone tries to ask Teofilatto about the ladies in the court and...
    Brancaleone: "Who's the tasty-looking one over there?"
    Teofilatto: "She'd be my sister"
    Brancaleone: "No, no, I meant the other one beyond, that with a whore's face."
    Teofilatto: (deadpan) "She'd be my mother"
    Brancaleone: "..."
  • Dirty Coward: Aquilante, and most of the "armata".
    Brancaleone: "Follw Aquilante, for he's well versed in the arts of running away."
  • Disappeared Dad: Brancaleone's dad died when he was very young. His mother married another man who chased the young Branca away and wasted all the family money. Eventually the boy came back and killed him in a duel.
  • Driven to Suicide: The blacksmith, but they found him just in time.
  • The Dung Ages: Only in Italy this time.
  • Greed: What motivates Abacuc, the Jewish notary. He also constantly carries a chest on wheels with him.
  • I Gave My Word: The reason why Brancaleone refuses Matelda's "offering", as he promised of bringing her to her groom to be "intact". Scorned, she sleeps with Teofilatto and then accuses Brancaleone of the deed.
  • Epic Flail: Spoofed: Taccone tries to swing around one, but ends up smashing Brancaleone's face.
  • Gorgeous Greek: Teofillato's Femme Fatale aunt as befitting a Byzantine seductress, manages to charm our hero... Until her sadomasochistic streak emerges during their hour of passion which terrorizes Brancaleone to the core.
  • Jerkass: Teofilatto.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brancaleone.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Branca again.
  • Large Ham: Probably Vittorio Gassman's most remembered performance, it's also one of the hammiest of all times.
  • Luke Nounverber: The German knight's actual name is Arnolfo Mano di Ferro, i.e. Arnolf Iron-Hand, but it's only said once in the entire movie when Abacuc reads Aurocastro's deed.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the light-hearted moment with the female bear, we have Abacuc's tear jerking death and funeral.
  • Non-Action Guy: Abacuc. Justified by his elderly age.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several, the most notable (and hilarious one) when Brancaleone discovers that the village they're pillaging has been struck with plague.
  • Pet the Dog: Brancaleone comforting the dying Abacuc.
  • Poisoned Weapons: The Byzantine guards threatens our heroes with poisoned arrows.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: "Armata Brancaleone" actually became part of the everyday language, and it's even the Trope Namer on the Italian Wiki.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The Hungarian raiders in the opening.
  • Sequel Hook: Brancaleone decides to join Zenone's pilgrims in their quest to reach the Holy Land in order to escape the wrath of the German Knight.
  • Shown Their Work: Is often pointed out that, humour aside, this movie is a faithful if cynical depiction of Italy during the Middle Age.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Brancaleone and Matelda, when the latter, ashamed for causing him much trouble, decides to lock herself in a convent.
  • Tempting Fate: Zenone the priest, versus the "cavalcone" (bridge).
    Zenone:"Have faith in the Bridge, for he's strong!" (As soon as he finish the utterance and jump, the bridge breaks under him.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Is never explained how Zenone survived the fall from the broken bridge.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Matelda can be seen as one.

The second film contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Death. Also the Sheik.
  • Agony of the Feet: In order to prove that Gregorio is the true Pope, Brancaleone has to deliver him a dove... while walking slowly on a path of hot coals without lamenting. And he succeeds.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The "Crusade" Brancaleone's attending doesn't correspond to any known crusade: It's heavily implied that is the first one as one of figures encountered is possibly Bohemond of Taranto, who established the Principality of Antioch after the First Crusade, but there were other Bohemonds after him.
    • Gregorio is heavily implied to be Gregory VII, who also had a dispute with a rival pope. One problem: he died before the Crusades were even declared.
  • Answering Echo: Parodied and played for laugh with the hermit Colombino the Stylite, whose echo suddenly and randomly repeats wildly the last word of his speeches, forcing him to shut him up.
  • Baleful Polymorph: According to herself, Tiburzia the witch was once a magpie. She's seen turned back into one in the ending, after Taking the Bullet for Brancaleone. Then there's Cippa, a dwarf, who believe that he was once tall and handsome but was jinxed by Tiburzia.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Brancaleone arrives just in time to the tournament to save the day. Only to get knocked out and lose because of Tiburzia.
  • Big "NO!": When Trash confesses his sin to the Hermit Pantaleo, the latter, shocked, answers with a series of these, culminating with one so hammy and loud that it causes a quake and open a smoking crevice in the ground, which swallows him and Trash.
  • Blatant Lies: Thorz, after getting hit on the head by Brancaleone's sword.
    Thorz:" That didn't hurt..." (falls on the ground, rolling and yelling for the pain)
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tiburzia to Brancaleone, expecially when Berta drop her disguise.
  • Cloudcuckoo Lander: Pantaleo the hermit. He's so used to solitude and thinking that he automatically carries on the discussion by himself when he gets visitors.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Brancaleone to almost anyone.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Hell is not such a bad place, according to Tiburzia.
  • Dirty Coward: Thorz.
  • Dirty Old Man: The Sheik's grandfather, who's seen ogling lecherously at Berta. He even gets her as slave/wife when the Christians lose the tournament.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The pilgrims in the beginning are slaughtered because they believed that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit where One and Three at the same time. The Archbishop Spadone, who believed that they were one entity, has them all killed and buried upside down.
  • Downer Ending: The crusade is lost, the Christians are either dead or humiliated, and Tiburzia sacrificed herself to save Brancaleone from Death.
  • The Dragon: Turone to the false Pope, and later to the Muslims.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor Cippa...
  • Epic Fail: Zenone and his followers believe to have reached the Holy Land after crossing the sea, thanks to God's help. Turns out, the "sea" was actually a lake.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Well, except for the few guys who faked their deaths and hid in a pit.
  • Evil Laugh: Death, when Brancaleone impales him in the chest to no avail.
  • The Grim Reaper: Played by a masked stuntman, voiced by Gigi Proietti, notorious comedian, theatre actor and dubbing actor.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Thorz, a mercenary who'll work for whoever offers the greatest advantage. Even self-admitted.
    Brancaleone:" And this one is Thorz, who' has as many faces as a dice".
    Thorz:" And like a dice, I'm ready to be recast!"
  • Heroic BSoD: Brancaleone, after witnessing the deaths of the pilgrims. Also count as Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tiburzia, to save Brancaleone from Death's scythe.
  • Hypocritical Humour: After saving Tiburzia from a furious mob, Brancaleone scolds Rozzone the shepherd for accusing her of being a witch. However, as she see her healing his hand, he promptly chews her out for being a servant of Satan and so on.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Thorz (germanish accent) and Berta (french). Most of the others have Italian dialectial accents.
  • Large Ham: Brancaleone, but also King Boemondo.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Parodied: Thorz challenge Brancaleone to an Alemannian Fight, with both fighters blindfolded. Then he blindfolds Branca and tricks him into folding a tree trunk instead. Brancaleone still manages to accidentally defeat him by knocking him over the head with the sword.
  • Mood Whiplash: Like in the first movie: a rather happy, joyous party is abruptly interrupted by an arrow from Turone and Cippa's death.
  • Necromancer: A tamer version: Tiburzia can speak with the dead, and at one point she has a conversation with some hanged people.
  • Nice Guy: The Pope Gregorio, who even after being rudely insulted by Thorz, let the members of the Armata feed on some food which was offered to a holy statue.
  • No Name Given: Trash, who refuses to reveal his name and beg them to call him names like slime, abomination, horror, dirt and eventually sets for trash.
  • Noble Demon: The Sheik.
  • Oh, Crap!: While resting, they hear the bells of a leper and freak out.
    Thorz:"Mein Gott... I know zis sound... It's a Leper!!"
  • Omniglot: Panigoto of Venigia (Venice), great traveler, knows a lot of tongues, including the bell sound based language of lepers.
  • Precision Swear Strike: Boemondo, after finding out that the fifth Muslim Champion is his own brother Turone, goes on a rant and even call him "Son of a Whore". Insulting himself too, as Turone underlined.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Another one!
  • Rhymes on a Dime: King Boemondo always speaks in rhymes.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When almost all the christian champions are defeated in the tournament near the end, most of the members of the "armata" flee.
  • The Starscream: Thorz to Brancaleone, seen when Branca's horse Aquilante comes back to the camp alone (having outrunned his master).
    Thorz:" Listen Up! Brancaleone... is Kaputt! Now I, Thorz the Alemanno, will be your new leader. I'll be ruthless und unjust!".
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Zenone.
  • Take Our Word for It: Pattume (Trash, literally, whose sin is so horrible that it caused a person to go mad and run away screaming, and according to him is even worse than spitting in holy water, murdering a sibling or sleeping with your own mother. When he finally confesses his sin to the holy hermit Pantaleo, his shock and disbelief is so big that it causes him to shout loudly, opening a fiery crevice in the ground.
  • Tap on the Head: Subverted when Brancaleone takes care of an enemy knight by hitting him on the head with a morning star. We see some blood flowing from under the helmet.
  • The Reveal: The Leper is actually the french princess Berta of Avignon, who disguised herself as one in order to avoid to be molestated during her travel to the Holy Land.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Pattume/Trash, who laughs when flayed and sleeps in a bed made of nettle. He claims that he's doing this to himself as a punishment for his unspeakable sin.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Brancaleone compared to the original movie.
  • Use Your Head: During the last part of Brancaleone's duel against Turone, the two ends up pushing each other helm-first from one side of the arena to the other, complete with the audience following their movements and occasional, noisy clashes. Eventually Turone is defeated.
  • Walking Armory: Thorz, who carries around broadswords, spiked swords, axes, maces, bows and daggers.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Thorz was hired to kill Boemondo's son Filderico, and was actually going to drop him in a river with a giant stone tied to him.