The picaresque story follows the life of its hero, Pasqualino, played by (Giancarlo Giannini) as he and another soldier have deserted the Italian Army somewhere in Germany. They are captured and sent to a concentration camp where Pasqualino tries to seduce the large and unattractive female commandant (Shirley Stoler) in order to save his own life. The plan succeeds except for the fact that Pasqualino is put in charge of the barracks and has to select six men to be killed under the threat that they will all be killed if he doesn't do it. Pasqualino ends up shooting his best friend in the head and being responsible for his other friend's death, (an Italian Anarchist.) Earlier in the film Pasqualino kills the pimp who turned his sister into a prostitute to save the family honor. Pasqualino later prostitutes himself and upon his return to Naples finds that his seven sisters, fiance and even his mother have survived and become prostitutes.
Shirley Stoler's character was based on Ilse Koch, notoriously known as the "the Bitch of Buchenwald". The wife of the camp's commandant Karl Otto Koch, she took sadistic pleasure in the torture of inmates, and was suspected of having lampshades made out of the skin of inmates.
Giancarlo Giannini stars in three other films Wertmuller made during this period, "Love and Anarchy", "The Seduction of Mimi" and "Swept Away". As in the latter film, Gianni here plays a character who is dominated by a woman.
Pasqualino's nickname "Seven Beauties" ("Settebellezze") refers to the fact that he has seven ugly sisters. His last name in the film is Frafuso.