Five Branded Women  [DVD]Van Heflin (actor),Silvana Mangano (actor)
Jeanne Moreau (actor), Vera Miles (actor)
Barbara Bel Geddes (actor), Richard Basehart (actor)
Format: all-region dvd (worldwide)
Quality: Excellent, 4:3, b&w
Yugoslav nationals crop the hair of a village quintet of women believed to have consorted with occupying Nazi soldiers. Four, for various reasons, admit to being guilty. Their seducer is a swaggering sergeant who is emasculated by the partisans when they catch him alone with one of the women in a nearby forest. Escorted out of town by the Nazis, the forlorn ladies soon link up, militarily and romantically, with a band of tough mountain guerrillas. ~ imdb
Top imdb review: This is a masterful grim piece of eloquence all the way, with outstanding acting by above all Silvana Mangano and Van Heflin, but also Jeanne Moreau and Richard Baseheart make unforgettable characters. The war story could hardly be more grim: under German occupation of Yugoslavia, five women are seduced by a German officer and punished for it by getting their heads shaved and chased out of town, where they have to survive as thieves and parasites in the wild until
fate unites them with partisans, led by Van Heflin.
A German officer is taken prisoner (Richard Baseheart) under the care of Jeanne Moreau, and another of the five women is helplessly pregnant. Love and sexual relationships are forbidden among the partisans, and violation of that rule means instant execution. Martin Ritt's direction is impressing in its very sinister strictness, while only the music offers some relief and relaxation and some enjoyment of beauty. The photography is also execellent. In brief, this is an important film in its thorough insight into the conditions of women at war seduced by Germans. They are fully aware of their shame and extremely difficult condition and situation, but you could say that they survive by just being women.
The film is full of precious moments, and even a little baby is allowed to join the party. This is a jewel of a most unusual war film of great dramatic intensity all through.