The Gentle Gunman

The Gentle Gunman is a black-and-white 1952 Ealing Studios drama film, directed by Basil Dearden and starring John Mills and Dirk Bogarde. The film is based on a 1950 play by Roger MacDougall[1] that was televised by the BBC in September 1950.[2]

The Gentle Gunman
Directed byBasil Dearden
Produced byBasil Dean
Michael Relph
Written byRoger MacDougall
StarringJohn Mills
Dirk Bogarde
Music byJohn Greenwood
CinematographyGordon Dines
Edited byPeter Tanner
Distributed byUniversal-International (USA)
Release date
October 1952 (UK)
30 September 1953 (U.S.)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Terence (John Mills) and Matthew (Dirk Bogarde) Sullivan are two IRA men in London during World War II. Terry starts questioning the worth of the IRA's war against the United Kingdom that involves planting bombs in a crowded London Underground station and becomes marked for death by the IRA. In addition to Terry's questioning of the IRA's methods, Matt is affected by a mother whose husband and son had joined the IRA with fatal results. Though Matthew escapes capture in London, his comrades-in-arms Connolly (Liam Redmond) and Patsy (Jack MacGowran) are captured by the British police. Both Terry and the IRA leader Shinto (Robert Beatty) vow to free the men and bring them from their trial in Belfast to safety in the Republic of Ireland, but Shinto favours more violent methods than Terry.


Critical reception

The British magazine Time Out thought the film was "stiff" and "overplotted",[3] while the British Film Institute thought the film struggled to "find the right tone" and culminated with a "car-crash of an ending".[4] The New York Times thought that the film had "failed to search beneath the surface" of the screen-play and described much of the content as "superficial".[5]


Englishman: "The situation in England is serious, but it's never hopeless"
Irishman: "The situation in Ireland is hopeless but it's never serious"


  3. "The Gentle Gunman". Time Out. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  4. "Gentle Gunman, The (1952)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  5. "The Gentle Gunman (1952)". British Film Institute. 1 October 1953. Retrieved 28 May 2014.

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