The lowly revolver

For several reasons, the gas-operated, top slide semi-automatic pistol has won the hearts of Hollywood, TV and thriller writers. The dominance of the 9mm pistol (there are a variety of ammo loads available other than 9mm, but it’s shorter than writing out “semi-automatic” so I’m sticking with it) over the legacy revolver is all but complete. In part this reflects the widespread use of this type of handgun by bad guys and good guys alike (I know, it’s hard to tell the bad/good guys apart some times, but that’s another story) in the real world.

But I’d wager that Hollywood and TV directors, actors and sound guys really love the 9mm because it provides so much cool business to put on film. There’s the ritual of the character sliding out the magazine, checking whether its full of bullets, sliding the magazine back into the grip and then working the slide back to chamber a round.

Directors love this sequence of actions because it hooks the viewer into the deadly action to come, sound guys love it for all those hard-edged metallic clicks they can dial up. And actors love it since it gives them something to do during a scene. That’s why actors love to smoke so much. There’s so much business. Pulling out the cig, pulling out the matches, striking the matches, lighting the cig, blowing smoke, switching hands, knocking off ashes — a nearly endless number of actions to perform. Otherwise, actors get all fidgety (other than the ones who’re good at playing robots, like Michael Fassbender)

Anyway, how can a revolver compete with the many benefits of a 9mm? Loading a revolver is a slower, less sound-intensive effort (sorta‘ boring actually). And once its loaded there’s no slide to work to show a character’s ultimate dedication to ultra violence.

I’ll be the first to admit, the 9mm wins hands down on these points. Still, I do have a soft spot for the revolver on film. Seeing one of those round-chambered beauts gives me a little pang. Kinda‘ like seeing the Stingray bike I rode when I was a kid, or the Maserati 1957 Maserati 200SI I used to drive down to Capri with Marion Cotillard before she go so big and refused to answer my texts.

Okay, at this point you know I’m a writer, so you also know I’ve never owned a 200Sl nor spent a languorous weekend with, let alone texted, Marion Cotillard. But if I did meet her, you can be sure that when I looked in her purse I’d find a sweet little snub-nosed .38, not some honking 50 caliber Desert Eagle.

revolver image by Stephen Z, Marion Cotillard image by nicogenin.

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