A Gun in the House (1981)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Courtroom Drama  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This combination of thriller and drama from the golden age of made-for-television films still packs a punch. The script is as ambitious as it is tight, managing to offer some interesting commentary on gun control, self-defense and the flaws of the legal system while still delivering plenty of thrills and tension. It also helps that the characterizations are believable, with the mom hero easily winning and retaining the viewer's sympathy while the two thief villains are portrayed with better-than-average depth. Ivan Nagy directs the film with an eye for suspense, making the film's home invasion sequences into white-knuckle affairs that are likely to keep the audience riveted. He also gets fine performances from a well-chosen cast: Dick Anthony Williams offers a convincing portrait of a frustrated and overworked cop while Jeffrey Tambor is truly villainous as an overambitious D.A. and Joel Bailey is disturbingly intense as the misogynist leader of the house-robbing duo. However, the top acting honors of A Gun In The House truly belong to Sally Struthers. Although she is most often remembered as a comedienne, she does a fine job with demanding dramatic material here, charting her character's course from fear to determination in a sympathetic, believable manner. Her performance has an almost shocking emotive power at times, particularly during an intense scene where her character is attacked by the two thieves: the fear and anguish she conveys in these scenes is so convincing it is tough to watch. In short, A Gun In The House a very effective piece of work that is good enough to stand up alongside its big-screen cousins.