This film is lovely. It was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Foreign Language Film" (even though the majority of the film is in English). Monica Vitti won the David di Donatello Award for "Best Actress."
The Girl With the Pistol begins with a group of Sicilian women walking through their village. Quite abruptly, La Cosa Nostra (the mafia in the village) begins chasing them. The women flee, and all remain safe, except Assunta (Monica Vitti). Assunta is kidnapped and brought to the mob boss, Vincenzo (Carlo Giuffrè), who yells at the men saying they got the wrong woman. He wanted the "fatter" one--Assunta's cousin. Vincenzo decides Assunta will do. She is prepared for his advances, however. Upon attempting to kiss her, Assunta pulls out a knife and says, "First you marry me, after do what you like." Vincenzo takes her in his arms and lays her on the bed promising to marry her the following day.
In the morning, Assunta awakes to find Vincenzo has fled, thus "dishonoring" her and her family. The village shames her, and she is told by her family (and mostly the women in the village) to find Vincenzo and kill him to regain her honor. She is put on a train to London with a pistol in her purse. She is pissed.
While in London, Assunta's focus is on killing Vincenzo, however, this shifts as he consistently runs away from her. Assunta begins to settle into life while in London--getting a job as a maid and taking English classes. All the while, her real reason for being in London is always in the back of her mind.
Assunta eventually catches Vincenzo and shoots at him, not killing him, but injuring the woman he is with. Vincenzo, in disbelief, takes the woman to the hospital, then tracks down Assunta to talk to her. They meet at the hotel he is staying at, and once up in his room, Assunta takes out her pistol and points it directly at him--she is only joking, however.
Instead of killing Vincenzo, Assunta sleeps with him. He tells her he will marry her as long as she pledges her liberty to him. She agrees. The following morning, however, she leaves him alone in bed, as he did to her all those years ago.
The last image is of her on a ferry and Vincenzo running after it screaming her name. The last words of the film are, "Putana, [whore] you were, and putana, you remain." Assunta is seen smirking on the ferry--her liberty intact.
Though the film came out during the sexual prowess of the 60s, it was still a bit racy to have a lead female character who, a) is to some degree violent, and b) sexual. Assunta's character is strong-willed and feminist in nature, as she is powerful, determined, and independent. It's great to see a film that ends with the woman not caring about "getting the guy" in the end. For a change, the woman is happily alone--not "needing" or even wanting any man.
More films with this type of ending (and this type of leading lady) are desperately needed.