When his daughter is shot just before Christmas, Martin Tillman journeys across the U.S. using the gun's serial number to track down the truth behind Penny's killing.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Birthday Girl (2001)
Comedy | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A thirtysomething bank clerk from St Albans has his small-town life exploded by the arrival of his Russian mail-order bride.

Director: Jez Butterworth
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Vincent Cassel, Ben Chaplin
Affliction (1997)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A deeply troubled small town cop investigates a suspicious hunting death while events occur that cause him to mentally disintergrate.

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn
Proximity (2001)
Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

An inmate serving time for vehicular homicide, overhears prison guards discussing plans for a murder and becomes a target himself.

Director: Scott Ziehl
Stars: Rob Lowe, Jonathan Banks, Kelly Rowan
American Gun (2005)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Seemingly disparate portraits of people -- among them a single mother, a high school principal, and an ace student -- Distinctly American -- all affected by the proliferation of guns in American society.

Director: Aric Avelino
Stars: Marcia Gay Harden, Forest Whitaker, Donald Sutherland
Evelyn (2002)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

1953. Desmond Doyle is devastated when his wife abandons their family on the day after Christmas. His unemployment and the fact that there is no woman in the house to care for the children,... See full summary »

Director: Bruce Beresford
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Julianna Margulies, Aidan Quinn
Little Fish (2005)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Set in the Little Saigon district outside of Sydney, a woman (Blanchett) trying to escape her past becomes embroiled in a drug deal.

Director: Rowan Woods
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving
The Hunter (1980)
Action | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The story of professional bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson.

Director: Buzz Kulik
Stars: Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Kathryn Harrold
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Vincent Lamarca, whose father was executed for a 1950s kidnapping of a child, grew up to become a police officer, only to see his own son become a murderer.

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Stars: Robert De Niro, James Franco, Frances McDormand
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The concurrent sexual lives of best friends Jonathan and Sandy are presented, those lives which are affected by the sexual mores of the time and their own temperament, especially in ... See full summary »

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Candice Bergen, Ann-Margret
The Limey (1999)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman goes to Los Angeles to find the man he considers responsible for his daughter's death.

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Stars: Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren
Lying in Wait (2001)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

Young bachelor Babee is looking after his dead mother's estate when married couple Keith and Vera move in. Babee becomes attracted to them by the beautiful Vera and the risk taking Keith. ... See full summary »

Director: D. Shone Kirkpatrick
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Virginia Madsen, Thomas Newton
Intrepid (2000)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.5/10 X  

Hotshot Navy special ops guys get assigned to take a cruise to keep an eye on a VIP's daughter. Once the voyage is under way, somehow a nuke A) gets lost in the vicinity, and B) goes off. ... See full summary »

Director: John Putch
Stars: James Coburn, Costas Mandylor, Finola Hughes
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Mia
...
Niesha Trout ...
Jesse Pennington ...
Jason Winther ...
...
...
...
...
J.B. (as Walter Emauel Jones)
Andrea C. Pearson ...
Anthony Harrell ...
Toby Smith ...
Edit

Storyline

A father who embarks on a nationwide journey to trace the line of ownership of the gun that killed his daughter. Starting with the gun factory, Martin travels to gun stores, trade shows, and individuals, also searching for his runaway granddaughter. Written by Conrad Gangone

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 June 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amerikai pisztoly  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Paula O'Hara (Jasmine) was the real-life wife of 'James Coburn' (Martin Tillman). See more »

Goofs

While Coburn is reading the newspaper obituary of the gun maker's daughter at the American Gun factory, the date is shown as Thursday, March 18, 1988. However, 18 March 1988, actually fell on a Friday, not on a Thursday. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Young Martin: [narration] The first gun I ever held belonged to my grandfather. Grandpa said he fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill. But we never really believed him. Whatever it was he did there in Cuba, one thing is for sure, he brought home a service revolver. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

American Gun Main Title
Music by Anthony Marinelli
Lyrics by William Blake (from the poem "The Lamb")
Performed by the Piedmont Boys Choir
Produced by Anthony Marinelli
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Coburn's last hurrah gets two cheers
6 May 2003 | by (London) – See all my reviews

American Gun is a suitably elegiac and death-obsessed film that closed the career of James Coburn. It's a sometimes worthy, but never less than interesting story, starting as one thing and ending as another. It begins as one man's search for truth, and finishes as the truth about a man. Along the way, director Alan Jacobs (whose previous credits have been romantic dramas and comedies) fashions an interesting narrative, using flashbacks and reconstruction in ways that are dramatically intriguing and never distracting.

Coburn plays Martin Tillman, whose daughter Penny (Virginia Masden) is killed in a shooting. Martin, an infantry veteran of the Second World War, experiences vivid memories of combat and his youth - notably his meeting and early romance with his wife Anne (Barbara Bain, a face familiar from re-runs of TV's original Mission: Impossible) as well as the traumatic killing of a young sniper who shot his friend. At the same time Martin seeks to re establish contact with Penny's estranged daughter (Alexandra Holden) who, after blaming her mother for her father's desertion, has disappeared.

Martin's grief over loss, and one-man odyssey to find the owner of the gun that killed his daughter is what lies at the centre of the film. Elderly, and with his knuckles visibly distorted by arthritis, Coburn still has an undeniable screen presence, raising the film out of the ordinary, and gives a quiet authority which adds necessary gravitas to his search. Despite being predicated around a violent act, American Gun is a relatively subdued film, making points about weapon ownership, responsibility and guilt in persistent ways that, understandably, caused some irritation amongst gun-owning filmgoers at home. It also had the bad luck to be made as a change of administration, and then the events of September 11th, marked a sea change in American attitudes to arms. It is doubtful that a film, which plays so much on the social question of weaponry, would be made today.

Besides some wintry settings, there is an excellent score, the work of the underrated Anthony Marinelli, which enhances much of the film's tone. Marinelli's spare note clusters, floating in dead air as it were, emphasise the silence and loss in lives touched by the gun. They suggest how much grief isolates the central character from all but the most essential relationships, where he can only really communicate by writing letters to a dead woman. The epistolary nature of many of Martin's scenes, as well as the distancing effect of his flashbacks, remove him further from daily life and place him further in his self-absorbed quest. ("He's on a crusade," despairs his wife at one point.) Martin's dedication to his search is also counter-pointed by a crisis in faith: "I still believe in God," he says during a glum meeting with a young pastor, "but I don't know what to make of him." Given the nature of Martin's grief, the churchman understandably finds it hard to offer more than passing support.

American Gun is apt title. It refers both to a weapon, as well as the name of the company manufacturing the offending item (Its factory of the same name is the first place Martin visits). Like something aimed and fired itself, Martin's single-minded journey transcribes its own trajectory, until it reaches its mark. Along the way we discover the gun's history: as an instrument of death in the hand of an abduction victim, a means of revenge for a jealous youth, and so on. The gun has taken more than one life and, the film suggests, is typical of such items passing through so many hands. Whether or not one takes this simplification at face value is down to the position held on gun control. Meanwhile the film benefits from an avoidance of hectoring, and a script that demonstrates the casual dissemination of small arms, as well as the numbing effects of their misuse.

Jacob's film recalls the similar premise explored in John Badham's The Gun (1974), an above average TV movie in which another firearm was followed from cradle to grave, although here the irony is of another sort. In Badham's film the piece is only fired once (at the end) for instance, while Jacob's weapon is used several times. American Gun also has a more complicated structure, the filmmakers using a combination of narrative and filmic methods to show the effects of gun violence on individuals. It is also has a clever twist in the tale, one which accords the hero greater tragic status as well as forcing us to reinterpret events. This ending, while the film still tends towards the episodic, reaffirms Martin's central role and allows the peculiarly penitential nature of his quest to be explained.

There's nothing about the film that wouldn't sit just as comfortably on the little screen as on the big, but it rarely drags and sustains interest. Those who seek the dynamism of most films explicitly associated with weaponry will be advised to look for thrills elsewhere. Those who'd enjoy a quiet, well made look at a perceived American blight, as well as those wanting a last glimpse of a memorable Hollywood star still at work, should check this out.


21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I just saw American Gun... goneballistic
Coburn Dancon7
I was in this movie strbrri_kissez
What is the techno song in Vegas? AbsolutEye
DVD Trepxe-oediv
where to find song blackflash2001
Discuss American Gun (2002) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page