Great Movie Scenes Involving Guns

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I’m not quite a cinephile, but I do enjoy me some movies! Who doesn’t? I also love guns, so when I think of the two together I think of, well, great movie scenes involving guns!

I should say that like you I’m keenly aware that more often than not Hollywood gets guns wrong. It is what it is, I guess. To maintain my sanity, I’ve basically decided to overlook inaccuracies and gratuitous embellishment with respect to firearms regardless of how cringeworthy it may be, e.g. head shots galore, endless-capacity magazines, exploding bullets, etc.

Instead, I focus on the gun as a tool for a filmmaker to mainly heighten drama and/or punctuate the emotional import of a scene. I think that’s what you’ll see in the clips I’ve chosen. The gun isn’t the star of the scene, rather it is being used as a device to, plainly stated, make the movie more entertaining.

It should be noted that some of the scenes below depict violence and contain language that is NSFW (Not Safe For Work), so please keep that in mind before playing them.

Tombstone

Before the classic “You’re no daisy!” showdown at the end of Tombstone between Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) and Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) there is the confrontation between the two gunfighters at Wyatt Earps’ (Kurt Russell) Faro table* (H/T MartinB). It’s a phenomenal scene and although no guns go off it foreshadows in many ways what’s to come for both our heroes and villains. Plus, the Latin repartee between Holliday and Ringo gives it an added dimension that reminds the viewer that these two adversaries are apparent equals not only with their sidearms but with their wits as well.

A Fistful of Dollars

“I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’. You see, my mule don’t like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you’re laughin’ at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you’re going to, I might convince him that you really didn’t mean it,” says Joe, a younger and quite surly Clint Eastwood.

Love everything about this scene, the humor especially. But most of all the lesson it teaches the viewer: Never insult a mule, they just don’t get it.

True Romance

I believe that “True Romance” is the only movie that Quentin Tarantino wrote but didn’t direct. Tony Scott was the film’s director — for whatever that’s worth. While Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are the focal point of the film, a small scene featuring the late Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken (you’ll notice Tony Soprano, err James Gandolfini in the background too) is easily its best and most memorable moment. I maybe going out on a limb here but I’d say it’s the best scene Tarantino ever wrote. Yes, it’s filled with racial epithets and it’s downright offensive, but it’s brilliantly acted and in terms of building suspense it’s unparalleled in the Tarantino canon.

Falling Down

Sure, this is more of a bazooka scene, but I’m including it because I think it perfectly encapsulates the ire many of us feel with highway construction. Beyond that, there is a ton of social and political commentary going on in the scene: municipal bureaucracies wasting taxpayer dollars on non-essential construction, the putative laziness and orneriness of government employees, the violence depicted in movies and its impact on younger generations. In any event, I personally think that this is Michael Douglas’s best film.

“Charlie! We got a goddamn nut here!”

Deer Hunter

This scene is hard to watch. But it’s a great one; there is no denying that. Christopher Walken makes the list again, however, instead of dueling with Dennis Hopper, Walken gets to play off of the legend himself Robert De Niro. Great acting!

“Deer Hunter” is a really, really intense movie and I think I’ve only actually watched it one time. But once was enough. And yet, I remember scenes more vividly from “Deer Hunter” than I do from movies I’ve seen dozens of times. Perhaps that’s a testament to it’s power and resonance as a work of art. If you haven’t watched it, it’s definitely worth checking out.

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Chuck Roast March 24, 2017, 8:38 am

    The Shootist. Opening scene, fellow throws down on the Duke to rob him. Tells the Duke to give him his money. Duke reached for his wallet inside his coat, wallet has a derringer in it, and the Duke hands the wallet toward the robber and shoots him in the gut. Robber says something like …”you aren’t going to leave me out here to die are you? The Duke looks at him and says …”Friend, you were gonna do the same thing to me.”
    CLASSIC line, which pretty much sums up the “Stand Your Ground” law in ten simple words.Just love that scene. And the final gunfight scene in the movie, where Duke sees Hugh O’brien’s reflection in the whiskey glass on the bar (the same one he took his final drink out of) and re-positions himself to shoot O’Brien in the head when he sneaks around the corner of the bar.
    So many great gun related scenes in the Shootist

  • Randy August 25, 2015, 5:09 am

    Smokin Aces with a .50 cal shooting from the hotel across the street and the “Neo-Nazi Brothers”, elevator shoot out between cop and the bad guy “who chewed his fingertips off so he couldn’t be identified with fingerprinting”.

  • Keith May 20, 2015, 11:38 am

    In Open Range, Kostner pulls a single six shooter, puts the 1st round “right between the eyes” of the hired gun, then he fires so many times (without reloading) that I lost count around 15 or 16.

  • Dale May 19, 2015, 8:20 pm

    Open Range, the scene where Kevin Costner saves Annette Benning from one of the ranch hands that’s taken her hostage! Costner has a Colt in each hand and starts blasting away!

  • Director101 May 19, 2015, 7:31 pm

    Just to add to the conversation, Tarantino also wrote, but did not direct, “From Dusk Til Dawn,” and “Natural Born Killers.”

  • papacapp May 19, 2015, 5:14 pm

    The most important scenes I know of pertaining to right-to-carry are one from Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” whereupon being accused of shooting an unarmed man the criminal simply states what every armed thug thinks- “he should’ve armed himself”.

    Best is a movie called “The Hit” where a character is in a phone booth making a call and three thugs mark him for an easy target and confidently approach; when they get about 30 feet away he reaches down, pulls a snubbie and points it at them- “not now fellas I’m busy here” -instant back-off by the thugs. THAT scene says it all…..

  • lgh May 19, 2015, 12:59 pm

    QDU- said I didn’t care much for them, not that I didn’t know how to use one.

    Paraphrased.

  • Steve May 19, 2015, 3:21 am

    Well, on the point of Holyweed not knowing dick about firearms; I still love the fantasy that Popeye Doyle could make a 100 yard shot, at a moving target, after running half a mile, with a 2″ Detective Special. Them NY cops are bad ass.

  • George May 18, 2015, 9:39 pm

    What??!! Butch Cassidy! Down in Bolivia when they’re trying to get hired as payroll guards. Sundance can’t hit the can just standing and shooting, and says, “Can I move?”

  • Danny May 18, 2015, 7:14 pm

    I loved the Deer Hunter scene. The vietcong with impunity slap and torment the 2 American soldiers…but then comes payback for these viet animals. I enjoyed Christopher Walken bashing in the skull of his tormentor. The American movie audience went wild with applause!

  • Robert Webber May 18, 2015, 4:29 pm

    “My Name is Nobody”

    • Trip3 May 18, 2015, 5:30 pm

      The shootout scene in Heat is one of the most realistic I’ve ever seen in the movies. The shootout in Tombstone (at the OK corral) is also pretty good. For sheer hilarity however, the shootout in Goin South wins hands down. Four or five guys shooting at each other practically point blank, and no one gets hit. Danny Devito, and John Belushi, need I say more?

  • Scott S May 18, 2015, 3:58 pm

    I can’t believe nobody has posted Dirty Harry yet.

    I haven’t seen the movie in at least 20 years, but I’ll try it from memory first, then find the quote and post it.

    I don’t remember now, did I fire five shots, or six? In all this excitement I lost track myself. But being that this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and could blow your head clean off, the question you have to ask yourself is, ‘do I feel lucky’?

    Well do ya, punk?

    Bad guy: I… I gots to know…

    Actual quote:

    “Clint: “I know what you’re thinkin’. Did he fire six shots, or only five? Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question.

    ‘Do I feel lucky’?

    Well do ya, punk?”

    Bad guy gives up, then says: Hey… I gots to know…”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0lvp7a7pmk

  • John L May 18, 2015, 10:58 am

    Quigley Down Under. Especially the last scene.

    • Damon May 18, 2015, 2:57 pm

      “Just because I don’t carry one doesn’t mean I don’t know how to use one.”

  • D Hicks May 18, 2015, 10:12 am

    The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Lots of action. The best shot is where the character Tuco,while taking a bath shoots the bounty hunter. Not to mention the last gunfight and I could go on.

  • Vince May 18, 2015, 9:58 am

    I love the scene in the movie “Flyboys”, where the American hero pilot shoots down the German dirigible and gets shot to pieces by the villainous German ace. Then when the German ace flies along side the doomed American pilot to gloat, The Yank pulls out his .45 and plugs the German. I know it’s not plausible, but it was one hell of a gotcha!

  • Bob May 18, 2015, 9:56 am

    True Romance is a great, underrated movie that most folks have never heard of. The scene when Clarence goes to get Alabama’s things is pretty intense too.

    Pulp Fiction has lots of shooting and intense scenes but when Jules explains to Ringo about the path of the righteous man and Mr 9mm’s part in the whole thing l love it every time!

  • JimmyC May 18, 2015, 9:22 am

    “Heat” up until recently, was my favorite. A couple of weeks ago I saw “John Wick” with Keanu Reeves and he introduced me to the “Center Axis Relock” style of poking holes in bad guys. Very cool movie and the shooting scenes are the most authentic I have ever seen.

    • mblack January 3, 2017, 10:58 am

      Thanks Jimmy C, now i’ll go watch that movie. Heat was also my favorite.

  • TW May 18, 2015, 8:58 am

    Heat, hands down the best shootout in the street scene ever!!!!! Only scene I have EVER witnessed actual magazine changing and accurate quantity of shots fired.

    • Damon May 18, 2015, 2:55 pm

      I concur. At the end of the shootout scene where Pacino settles into his HK and you can see him inhale, exhale halfway and hold it before taking his shot is perfect.

      • Tom Ross May 18, 2015, 3:33 pm

        Watched it the other day; phenomenal scene. Also a fan of The Wild Bunch.

  • Shark May 18, 2015, 8:44 am

    Hands down, “The Wild Bunch”.

  • Brett M May 18, 2015, 5:31 am

    If we’re gonna overlook inaccuracies, then I’d include The Matrix when Neo and Trinity storm the building to rescue what’s-his-name.

  • Will Drider May 13, 2015, 10:14 pm

    Hands down the movie with the most firearms and a few shoulder fired rockets to boot is Mr. & Mrs Smith!
    18 Handguns
    6 Rifles
    4 Submachine Guns
    4 Shotguns
    4 Machineguns
    8 Other “Things”

  • MartinB May 12, 2015, 5:19 pm

    (Grammar Nazi Alert) Faro is the gambling game run by the Earps. Farrow is what pigs do when they give birth to piglets. A subtle difference.

  • Brandon May 12, 2015, 12:03 pm

    The ambush scene in Ronin!

  • Jeff S May 11, 2015, 8:07 pm

    Nothing from Heat or Collateral???

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