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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.