The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag

The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag
Directed by Allan Moyle
Produced by Sarah Bowman
Robert W. Cort
Ted Field
Ira Halberstadt
Scott Kroopf
Cynthia Sherman
Ray K. Morris
Written by Grace Cary Bickley
Music by Richard Gibbs
Cinematography Charles Minsky
Edited by Janice Hampton
Erica Huggins
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
August 14, 1992
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,721,911

The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag is a 1992 American screwball comedy film written by Grace Cary Bickley and directed by Allan Moyle. The film stars Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal, Julianne Moore, William Forsythe, Cathy Moriarty and Alfre Woodard. Rock and roll recording pioneer Cordell Jackson played a bit part as "Bathroom Woman."

The film was distributed by Touchstone Pictures for Interscope Communications.


Betty Lou Perkins is a meek librarian and nobody pays much attention to her, in particular her husband, Alex. A criminal kingpin is killed in cold blood and Betty Lou happens to find the murder gun. She is so mousy, however, she cannot even get the police to listen to her, including Alex, who is a detective. In sheer frustration, she not only produces the gun, but also announces she is the one who committed the crime.

Behind bars, Betty Lou meets a variety of hardened and colorful characters. Rather than intimidate her, they actually increase her self-confidence. Once she is released, she begins to dress, speak, and act differently. Unfortunately for her, criminal acquaintances of the victim assume she must have confessed to the murder for a reason. They conclude she must be his mistress, and soon the bad guys want a few words with her...or worse.



The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag was panned by critics. It currently holds a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.

Entertainment Weekly, reviewing the film when it was released in home video, gave the film a D+ and called it a "foolish farce."[1] The British film magazine Empire gave it (three stars out of five), calling it "watchable" and noting "Miller is a winning heroine" but characterizing the film as "too busy to be really funny."[2] The Austin Chronicle gave it (two stars out of five): "The cast shines in The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag; watching these performers, you know this movie would have made for an inspired farce given better writing and direction."[3]

Home video

The film was released on DVD by Touchstone Home Entertainment on September 2, 2003 and was released on Blu-ray by Mill Creek Entertainment in May 2011.[4]


  1. Lawrence O'Toole (May 21, 1993). "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  2. "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". Empire. Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  3. "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". The Austin Chronicle. August 28, 1992. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
  4. "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". Mill Creek Entertainment. Retrieved 2011-06-17.
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