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The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag (1992)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Mystery | 21 August 1992 (USA)
An ignored, small-town librarian confesses to a murder she didn't commit to get attention.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Elizabeth Louise 'Betty Lou' Perkins
Detective Alex Perkins
Attorney Ann Orkin
Andy Romano ...
Detective Frank
Mr. Marchat
Christopher John Fields ...
Reba Bush
Billie Neal ...
Gale Mayron ...
Charleen Barnes
Reathel Bean ...
Bob Barnes


Betty Lou is a librarian in a very small town. Her husband, Alex, is a police detective who takes her for granted. She is the ultimate mouse. After a gangland figure is mysteriously murdered in town, she finds the murder weapon, but can't get anyone's attention to tell them (we're talking very mousy, here). Finally in a fit of frustration she fires it in a restroom and when taken to the police station insists she is the murderer. It has the desired effect, people do pay attention to her. With hints at social graces from the hookers in her cell block, she's on her way. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Notoriously Hilarious Comedy! See more »


Comedy | Mystery

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, and for some sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 August 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Arma de Betty Lou  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$13,000,000 (estimated)


$3,721,911 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ann Orkin: Am I supposed to feel sorry for you? If you're unhappy drink. Get laid. See a shrink like normal people.
See more »


Features The Letter (1940) See more »


(Goin') Wild for You Baby
Written by Tom Snow and David Batteau
Performed by Bonnie Raitt
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

A who's-who of 80s awesomeness wrapped up in a cute comedy
3 December 2012 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

If you're a fan of 80s movies & TV, you'll have a blast watching "The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag". Released in 1992, I consider this one of the last "80s movies" with an allstar cast (though sadly underrated today).

For starters we've got the amazing Faye Grant (remember "V" & "The Greatest American Hero"?) in a role like you've never seen: a frustrated southern belle housewife who's just 1 Gucci away from being trailer park trash. She steals the show in every scene.

Then there's William Forsythe (Al Capone in "The Untouchables" TV series, the bad guy in "Out for Justice", etc) who plays such a creepy villain you almost forget you're watching a comedy.

It gets better... how about Meatloaf, yes, MEATLOAF in a cameo as "Larry".

There's my personal fave, Cathy Moriarty ...or as I like to think of her, the closest thing to Lauren Bacall since Lauren Bacall... as the tough street walker who changes Betty Lou's life. Cathy has played almost every mobster wife in every mobster movie ever made. Absolutely perfect.

There's the incomparable Julianne Moore (who's been in everything, but my fave would have to be her recent appearances on 30 Rock) as Betty Lou's nutty slutty sister.

How about Alfre Woodard (Betty Applewhite on "Desperate Housewives") as the rookie lawyer who's "defending" Betty Lou against murder charges even though she got her attorney's license through the mail.

And that brings us to Betty Lou herself, played by Penelope Ann Miller whom I'll always remember as Winnie, Pee-wee Herman's girlfriend in "Big Top Pee-Wee". She does such a great job as the repressed, oppressed & distressed housewife who decides to go on an adventure for the first time in her mousey life.

The director, Allan Moyle, may not be as famous as Spielberg, but he's done some great comedies such as "Pump Up the Volume" and "New Waterford Girl" (two films I highly recommend).

There are more actors I didn't recognize until I saw the credits: Catherine Keener (the hot chick in "Being John Malkovich"), Stanley Tucci ("Miami Vice" TV series), and did I mention MEATLOAF? The result of this great lineup is a film which was obviously a lot of fun to make, and it's certainly a lot of fun to watch. Even if you're not familiar with all these people I've mentioned, their colorful characterizations will be very memorable.

The story itself is an interesting blend. It's a badass chick flick like "Thelma & Louise" crossed with a small town crime caper like "My Cousin Vinny" and a light thriller like "Get Shorty" wrapped up into one. The presentation, though at times intense, remains breezy throughout, and although there are several murders on screen, it doesn't get too disturbing. They don't make em like this anymore. Like I said earlier, don't miss the chance to see one of the last of the "80s" crime-comedy classics.

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