The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag is a 1992 American screwball comedy film written by Grace Cary Bickley and directed by Allan Moyle. It 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."
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 can't 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.
- Penelope Ann Miller as Betty Lou Perkins
- Julianne Moore as Elinor
- Alfre Woodard as Ann Orkin
- Cathy Moriarty as Reba
- William Forsythe as Beaudeen
- Eric Thal as Alex Perkins
The film was panned by critics. It currently holds a 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.