Glib gun battles and sham showdowns

When I said ‘Draw!’ I didn’t mean on a sketchpad you weirdo

The standard movie showdown is always a tense situation so it’s fun to see the tension get sucked away by an unexpectedly glib resolution. Clint Eastwood has built his career on snarky showdown banter while Crocodile Dundee likes to point out what is and is not a knife and Indiana Jones finds that shooting evil swordsmen is an excellent alternative to fighting them. Here are some memorable movie and TV showdowns that end with wicked punchlines.

The Good The Bad and The Ugly (1966) — While taking a much-needed bath Tuco (Eli Wallach) is surprised by a one-armed gunman suddenly bursting into the room. Tuco sits sheepishly in his tub full of bubbles while the gunman sneers at him delighted to have found his nemesis in such a helpless position. Suddenly the one-armed man is shot dead by the gun Tuco has concealed under the foam of his bubble bath. “When you have to shoot shoot! Don’t talk!” advises Tuco.

Aeon Flux (the TV show not the film) (1995) — While infiltrating a high-tech laboratory cartoonish anti-heroine Aeon Flux meets her nemesis Trevor Goodchild. The combatants each grab a piece of alien-looking weaponry from a table and begin circling each other pointing their ridiculous contraptions which bristle with pincers tentacles and various pointy bits. The tension builds. Finally both characters put their gizmos down admitting that they have no idea how the stupid things work.

Police Squad! (1982) — This gleefully ludicrous TV comedy spoofed conventional cop shows and paved the way for the followup Naked Gun films. Sight gags abound — during one classic shootout we see heroic cop Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) trading gunshots with a desperate criminal while hiding behind cover. After several shots are fired without scoring a single hit the camera steps back to reveal that the combatants are only two feet away from one another.

Get Shorty (1995) — Ronnie (Jon Gries) constantly tries to intimidate people by opening his jacket revealing the gun tucked into the belt of his trousers. At one point he makes the mistake of trying this on someone who’s already holding a gun in his hand. “You must be one of those quick draw artists” says Ray “Bones” Barboni (Dennis Farina) chuckling at Ronnie’s laughable attempt to bully an armed man. Realizing his mistake Ronnie opts to push the bravado thing glancing at Bones’s weedy pistol and sneering “Whattaya got there a Wop 9? Fucking Fiat of guns always jamming on you at the wrong time.” Bones smiles and shoots Ronnie four times. The lesson: guns never jam when you want them to.

Cheers (1982 to 1993) — It’s hard to believe that beloved TV character Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) once pulled a gun on someone. After getting dumped at the altar by Diane Frasier confronts her ex Sam Malone (Ted Danson) and flashes a revolver convinced that Sam is responsible for his humiliation. After a moment of panic Sam relaxes saying “Ah wait a second… what are you doing? The gun’s not even loaded.”

Frasier sniffs at this. “Oh of course you know it’s not because Frasier Crane is a harmless person who never caused you a moment’s concern not a moment’s worry who was never a threat to your relationship with Diane and he isn’t a threat now. Is that it Sam?”

Sam points at the revolver’s chamber and says “No it’s just that the little holes there are empty.”

Dr. No (1962) — One of the very first showdowns in the first Bond film shows agent 007 (Sean Connery) to be quite the cold-blooded killer. An assassin strolls into Bond’s bedroom firing several shots into the pillow that Bond had placed under the sheets as a decoy. The two men chat for a bit before the killer tries to shoot Bond with his now-empty pistol. “That’s a Smith & Wesson and you’ve had your six” observes Bond as he ventilates the intruder.

Snatch (2000) — Bullet-tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) is such a badass that when a trio of gunmen ambush him in a pub it takes several seconds for him to even notice their presence. Once their gun-brandishing and discrete throat-clearing finally get through he scarcely pays them any more attention. He just sits there hitting the boys with a withering insulting monologue before calmly pointing out that their pistols have the word “replica” written along the side whereas his own gun (which he then pulls out and lays on the table with a mighty clunk) has the words “Desert Eagle .50” written along the side. The camera whooshes in for a close look to confirm both claims. Suitably chastened the lads take Tony’s advice and “fuck off” in a sheepish manner.