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The Gentle Gunman (1952)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 10 October 1953 (USA)
In 1941 in wartime UK, two Irish brothers working for the IRA come against their local leader's ruthless methods.



(play), (screenplay) (as Roger Macdougall)


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Complete credited cast:
Eddie Byrne ...
Joseph Tomelty ...
Dr Brannigan
Liam Redmond ...
Johnny Fagan
Michael Golden ...
Patsy McGuire (as Jack McGowran)
Gilbert Harding ...


IRA member Terry modifies his violent views after working undercover in wartime London. When his co-conspirators are arrested, he ensures that his brother Matt escapes back to Ireland. Terry follows and the local group have to decide what to do about him and about their imprisoned colleagues being shipped to Belfast. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Traitor? - Coward? - or Hero? His gun was always ready to save a life! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

10 October 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bombe im U-Bahn-Schacht  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edward Byrne, Michael Golden, and E.J Kennedy had also featured in a 1950 TV play in different roles. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: NORTHERN IRELAND 1941 See more »


Featured in Irish Cinema: Ourselves Alone? (1995) See more »


Arranged by Delia Murphy
See more »

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User Reviews

Everything is relative ... even the impact of terrorism
7 December 2005 | by (Zurich, Switzerland) – See all my reviews

As fate would have it, I bought a low price DVD with this movie shortly before the bomb attacks on the London underground on July 7th, 2005. I suppose the story is based on real facts. Members of the IRA planted bombs in London's underground system during WW II. This is what happens in the first part of this movie anyway, and an amazing amount of footage seems to have been shot on real locations. Dirk Bogarde plays the young Irishman who deposits the suitcase with the time bomb on a station platform full with families and children who are bedding down for a night during the Blitz, John Mills is his older brother, also a member of the terrorist gang but beset by moral qualms. He follows the Bogarde character and manages to throw the bomb into the tunnel just before it explodes.

Basically this is a story about the questioning of causes and of the justification of terrorist acts, specially in relation to the situation in Northern Ireland. In this aspect it is not unlike Carol Reed's Odd Man Out, made a few years earlier. The main character takes a critical view of the actions of the terrorists who in turn suspect him of being a traitor (not without reason). The action soon moves to an isolated road house on the Green Island, the base of the gang, and the point is clearly made, that all the actions of the terrorist are senseless and just cause harm to many innocent people without achieving anything but generating more suffering and hate.

What is really interesting for a viewer of our days about this movie is how the issue of terrorism is treated. The terrorists are basically presented as misguided dimwits who will never be able to shake the system. Compared with how terrorism is regarded today this treatment struck me as being a very mild and strangely relaxed view of people ready to commit atrocities. But then I came to understand that even terrorism and its impact have to be relativised. Compared with the surface bombings by German planes during the Blitz (a memory certainly still very fresh in 1952), the damages caused by a group of terrorists must have seemed very limited indeed.

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