Catfight refers to a fight between women, usually involving scratching, hair pulling, biting, and clothes ripping. If it's mere verbal abuse, then it's just called being "catty." In his TV show, Jerry Seinfeld attempted to explain the male attraction to catfights: "Men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other there's a chance they might somehow, you know, kiss." Not likely. At least not in the catfights listed here. In fact in some Asian films, catfighting is taken to a whole new level of intensity, skill, and brutality. So let your claws out and enjoy the Catfight Hall of Fame.
An oldie but a goodie, this 1939 Western pits heart-of-gold saloon gal Marlene Dietrich against the prim and proper Una Merkel. This sets the standard for clawing, hair-pulling, and clothes ripping. It takes the sheriff played by Jimmy Stewart to cool the women off with a bucket of water. My advice: don't mess with Marlene!
You get three for the price of one here. Uma Thurman's out for revenge and takes on Vivica Fox, Chiaki Kuriyama (of Battle Royale), and Lucy Liu. Her opening battle with Fox kicks major ass as the two fight in Fox's suburban home and are interrupted by her little girl coming home from school (mom explains the mess by saying the dog did it). Director Quentin Tarantino shows us that catfighting has moved way beyond scratching and hair pulling. But Uma takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
We all know how James Bond attracts women but in the gypsy camp here two hot babes - Martine Beswick and Aliza Gur – both want 007 and are willing to fight for him. As Bond's friend explains: "The women will fight until one of them is dead or surrenders. The winner will marry the man they both love, the loser will be cast out of the tribe, never to return." Bond takes it all in stride and when his friend attempts to translate what the snarling women are saying, Bond stops him and replies, "Yes, I think I got it without the subtitles." So will you.
Okay, if you didn't get enough cat fighting from Volume One, Uma Thurman's back for more in Volume Two. Although the main focus of this second part of Quentin Tarantino's revenge tale is Bill, Uma Thurman does take on Daryl Hannah in an intense fight staged inside the cramped quarters of a trailer where there's not even enough room to unsheathe a sword. Uma seals Hannah's fate with the terse line: "Bitch, you don't have a future." 'Nuff said.
Raquel Welch has been in a couple of memorable catfights but Kansas City Bomber edges out over the prehistoric cave opera One Million Years B.C. because of its setting – roller derbies. What better backdrop for catfighting than a roller derby? Raquel Welch and Helena Kallianiotes square off memorably both in the rink and on some railroad tracks.
This was a tough call, which Pam Grier movie to highlight? The Big Dollhouse is a tempting choice because it takes place in a women's prison (score big points for that) and ends with mud wrestling (more points) but Grier loses to some white chick (deduct mega points for that). Black Mama, White Mama serves up the delicious gimmick of having Grier chained to her prison nemesis as they flee confinement and claw, slap, and bite each other across the countryside. Also tempting is the great gladiator battle in The Arena but because Grier is forced to fight Margaret Markov it doesn't really qualify as a catfight. So that leaves the brawl in a lesbian bar in Foxy Brown as an example of Grier's catfighting skills.
Sparks fly in this star-studded MGM film featuring an all-female cast with claws sharpened and painted jungle red. This film brims with venomously funny cattiness as well as a free for all, no holds barred catfight-o-rama at an elegant ball. Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford go at each other over Shearer's hubby, but it's Paulette Goddard's catfight with Rosalind Russell that proves most memorable.
9. 'Iron Angels' (1987) (aka 'Midnight Angels', 'Fighting Madam')You can't have a catfight hall of fame without at least one Asian entry. It was a tough call but Moon Lee taking on Yukari Oshima has to be one of the best femme-on-femme fights ever. The deadly and sexy Oshima proclaims, "I am just a poor defenseless woman," and then proceeds to beat her male opponent senseless. She tries to do the same to Lee but Lee is made of tougher stuff. The final battle is brutal, bloody, and jaw-droppingly awesome.
And no list can be complete without at least one women in prison film. There were so many to choose from (including Girls in Prison, House of Women, Reform School Girls, Caged Heat, Good Time Girl) but Swamp Women had the cheesiest title and it marked Roger Corman's directorial debut so that's the one that made the list. It also stars Marie Windsor and Beverly Garland, and includes multiple tussles, all in short shorts. What more can you ask for?