Posted by: jgurner | May 24, 2011

The Cheap Bin – The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anita and I pull a lot of movies from the various DVD “cheap bins.” Quite often, they are movies we’ve never even heard of or may have only heard the name. Sometimes we decide to get it because of the cast, or the blurb on the case or we thought we heard something good about the movie. Sometimes I don’t have a clue why we get them. But, since these are often the bulk of the movies we watch, I thought I’d start doing an occasional review. Often, these movies are years, even decades old, but, it’s nice to take a look back at something that might actually be really, really good (or not).

The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag


Starring: Alfre Woodard, Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal

Directed By: Allen Moyle; Written By: Grace Cary Bickley

Wal-Mart – $3 (Double DVD with Gross Anatomy)

No one should watch this movie unless: You’ve lived in Oxford, Mississippi and want to see the Square, some of the houses, University Avenue or The Gin (Man, I miss The Gin) in a movie; You actually lived in Oxford when this movie was made and want to relive the memories of major streets being closed down for days at a time, not seeing any of the stars out and about, city hall or The Gin or other buildings and businesses closed while filming was being done; You lived in Oxford and want to freeze frame the movie so you can see people you actually know as extras in crowd scenes; You lived in Oxford and actually got to go to the non-star-studded premier; You live anywhere and like to do things like stick needles under your toe nails, rake your fingernails across chalkboards, roll around in brier patches or chew on razor blades.

This is one of two movies that were filmed in Oxford during the decade or so I was in college. The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag makes Heart of Dixie (the other movie) look like Citizen Kane. Both movies used The Gin the preferred watering hole for much of the college crowd at the time, the City Hall (as a police station and as college newspaper office, respectively) and the Rebel Inn. And in both movies, while being filmed in the heart of Mississippi culture, the home of William Faulkner, the stories were based in other states – Missouri and Alabama.

The basic idea for the movie isn’t necessarily a bad one – a meek, small town woman, ignored and put upon by everyone around her – gets swept up in an uproar over some event totally unconnected to her and becomes an entirely different person – assertive, more worldly, in control of her own life. This movie took the idea and did less with it than would your typical Lifetime movie and, with the exception of Alfre Woodard and Julianne Moore (in a minor role) has pretty much a Lifetime movie level cast.

And I’m not even going to start on the Southern accents. Please, Hollywood, if you need someone who speaks with a Southern accent, get a Southern actor or at least get one from Ireland or Australia. They’re really good at it.

This is not by any means the worst movie I have in my collection, but it’s close.


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