User Reviews (42)

  • marker2811 January 2003
    8/10
    Undeservedly obscure noir
    Interesting noir from veteran director Dmytryk. Arthur Franz gives a good twitchy, sweaty performance as a sex criminal released from prison for assaulting women, only to be compelled to kill them with a stolen military rifle once free, and silent star Adolphe Menjou is the police officer in charge of stopping Franz's crime spree. As lurid as the subject matter is, the film's approach to it is admirably serious and even-handed, especially when contrasted to that taken by other films about serial killers. For example, Fritz Lang's noir "While the City Sleeps", made around the same time, features a character similar to Franz's as its villian (a disturbed young killer with a mother fixation, who leaves messages for the police urging them to catch him), but its portrayal of the murderer is comically overwrought in comparison. Some of the psychological shorthand used to illustrate Franz's fractured psyche may appear naive to contemporary audiences (stroking his phallic rifle in anticipation to his murders, wincing in pain when he passes a mother slapping her child on the street), but he's a much more realistic and credible criminal than the overheated creations that populate recent films about the same subject (Seven, Hannibal Lecter trilogy, etc). The film's sober and non-sensational tone can be attributed partly to producer Stanley Kramer; the redeeming social message that is commonly found in his films creeps into this one through the character of a police psychologist, who gives a speech about the need to change the laws that deal with sex criminals (not a lot has changed since the time this movie was released - so much for the redeeming social message). Dmytryk's direction is typically stylish (why did it become so turgid later on?), and he makes excellent use of San Francisco locations. The finale, where the police finally close in on the sniper is particularly well done, with one sequence standing out as especially memorable and effective: a construction worker gives the sniper away as he's about to claim another victim, and discovers too late that its a bad idea to cross a psychopath with a long distance rifle, especially when in the not very convenient position of dangling from a smokestack. The cast is strong, and includes a welcome appearance by B-movie fave Marie Windsor, as a bar pianist who ends up as the sniper's first victim. Nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay, "The Sniper" is fairly obscure compared to other noirs and is unavailable on video - it's really worth catching during one of its occaisonal appearances on cable TV.
  • ccthemovieman-11 March 2007
    9/10
    Interesting Character Study/Crime Story
    For much of this film noir, it was almost more of a character study than a crime movie, since there was very little action and only some suspense in the final 10 minutes. However, I'm not complaining. I found the film got better and better as it went along and was an interesting story overall with an excellent cast. When the action did occur- the sniper's shots - they were shocking scenes, shocking in their suddenness.

    I appreciated the fact they shot this on the streets in San Francisco, where the story takes place, instead of some Hollywood back-lot. That city, in particular, with its steep streets and bay-windowed houses, is fun to look at in any era. This happens to be very early 1950s. As with many noirs, the photography was notable, too. I liked a number of the camera angles used in this movie.

    I also appreciated that cast. Arthur Franz is excellent in the lead role of the tormented killer, "Eddie Miller." Eddie knows right from the start that he's a sick man, that he can't help himself and that he needs him. (So, why didn't he turn himself in?) It was fun to see an older and sans-mustached Adolphe Menjou as the police lieutenant, and Humphrey Bogart- lookalike Gerald Mohr as a police sergeant. It was most fun, being a film noir buff, to see Marie Windsor. This "queen of noir," unfortunately, didn't have that big a role in here.

    What really struck were some bizarre scenes, things I have never seen in these crime movies on the '30s through '50s. For example, there was an investigation of sniper suspects held at the police building in which three suspects at a time were grilled - in front of about a hundred cops. The grilling was more like taunting and insult-throwing by this sadistic cop in charge, who made fun of each guy. Man, if they tried that today, there would lawsuits up the wazoo (so to speak).

    Then there was this James Dean-type teen who was on top of a city building with a rifle, right in the middle of this citywide sniper scare. The cops bravely bring him in without killing him and are yelled at for doing so, since the gun wasn't in serviceable order. Duh! The cops were supposed to just see a guy waving a gun on top of a rooftop and let him go, no questions asked?

    A number of things in here stretched credibility, but there were some intelligent aspects, too. "Dr. Richard Kent," played by Richard Kiely, was a case in point. He was the police psychologist and gave strong speeches (the film got a little preachy at times) advocating what should be done with sex-crime offenders, some of it Liberal and some of it Conservative in nature. He made some good points. "Eddie" had sex problems, I guess, but I don't remember it being discussed in the film. Maybe I missed that. The film did miss that aspect: Eddie's background, which triggered all the violence.

    The second half of this film is far better, because the killings increase and the suspense starts to mount. As it goes on, we get more of a feel of what motivates Eddie as we see his reactions to people and how he views things they say. I was surprised, frankly, that he didn't shoot his nasty female boss, since he only harmed women. She was the nastiest woman in the film, and nothing happened to her. What was Eddie thinking?
  • Irving Warner29 September 2000
    9/10
    A taut psychological study--pioneer of its genre.
    This is a sleeper's sleeper--rarely seen, and difficult to rent on video and even harder to rent on 16mm. An opening letterbox announces "The Sniper" as a study of one man's violence against women. From there on, it does all of that in a highly charged, suspenseful storytelling style. This movie was shot on location in San Francisco, and the closing "chase" sequence--odd and highly symbolic concerning what ails the killer--is classic. This writer interviewed the director (Edward Dmytryk) about this and other scenes in "The Sniper", and though the interview was done in 1994 (Dmytryk was 80+ at that time) his artistic recall of "The Sniper" impressed. At that time, he had never been interviewed about that movie since its release. Arthur Franz played the killer, doing a wonderful job. And overall, the writing and acting in "The Sniper" is tight and extremely convincing. The opening shot of "The Sniper" catches you up in the plight of both the public at large, and the killer--and from there, it is quite a ride. Yet "The Sniper" is more than entertainment--it is indeed a classic early study of violence against women (With Richard Kiley playing the psychiatrist). If you can rent this--get it!
  • Glenn Andreiev6 February 2001
    Like a crime scene map. Incredibly rich in detail!
    Before one word of dialog is uttered in THE SNIPER, we witness a troubled San Francisco youth, Eddie (Arthur Franz) aim a rifle at a kissing couple. The gun is empty, and Eddie breaks down crying as the unsuspecting couple smooch. From then on, this obscure 1952 classic follows Eddie as he goes on a systematic killing spree. We also follow detecives Adolphe Menjou and Richard Kiley rationalizze the insanity and finally close in on Eddie. This film is rich in classic scenes- Eddie, who we know is uncomfortable with women, confronting sexy Marie Windsor. The suspenseful scene where a smokestack painter points out Eddie, the rooftop sniper. Eddie screams at the man to shut up, but they are clearly a half mile away from each other. All this is done in one deep focus shot. My favorite scene is when the police line up and question local sex offenders (Cop to other cops, pointing to man in line up "This is a tough guy.... with small animals." Classic noir.
  • Neil Doyle27 February 2007
    7/10
    Compact thriller with good San Fransisco location shots...
    THE SNIPER reminds me of a more compact, more personal look at a psycho killer than THE NAKED CITY, which it resembles in style and content.

    ARTHUR FRANZ gets his big break here, a starring role in a well-written thriller about a serial killer who wishes he could stop killing, if the police would only catch him. The final scene is a summation of that wish, but almost seems like a letdown after all the build-up to what we presume would be a bloody climax (if directed by someone like today's Martin Scorsese).

    Franz's trouble is that he looks too much like any clean-cut, normal, handsome young man and his looks work against the grain of the role. He's intense when he has to be, but lacks the intenseness of a James Dean or even a Dane Clark as the man given to sudden outbursts of temper and a psyche that is screaming for help and attention. He's good, but never manages to be better than his material. Think of what someone like DANIEL CRAIG would do with this role today.

    MARIE WINDSOR does a nice job as a glamorous night club pianist who has the young man (who works as an errand boy for the local cleaners) as a sort of friend she trusts. Her walk through an almost deserted looking San Francisco at night, down hilly streets on the way to her workplace, is photographed with noir precision and style, as is most of the film. Neat use of San Francisco's hilly environment is a constant point of interest throughout.

    ADOLPHE MENJOU is not quite as colorful as Barry Fitzgerald was in THE NAKED CITY, playing a detective determined to catch the serial killer before he strikes again. MABEL PAIGE does a nice job as Franz's landlady who talks to her black and white cat as though it was her own dear child, and GERALD MOHR is briskly efficient as a psychiatrist who thinks the police are going about their search the wrong way.

    Wonderfully photographed in B&W shadowy photography, it's a compact and efficient film noir that is perhaps a little too restrained in dealing with frank subject matter but nevertheless gets its points across with chilling clarity, thanks to a tight script and some good suspenseful footage.

    Summing up: Stands on its own as a good thriller from the early '50s.
  • bkoganbing16 February 2011
    8/10
    Taking It Out On The World
    Almost twenty years before San Francisco was terrorized by another sniper in Dirty Harry, this well received B film from Columbia Pictures painted a far less glamorous picture of a mentally ill individual taking his problems out on the world. Arthur Franz got his career role in The Sniper and a pity it didn't elevate him to stardom although he certainly had a distinguished and long career.

    Franz paints us a portrayal of a socially challenged man who just can't get anywhere with the opposite sex. He conceives a pathological hatred of all women and an innocent encounter with a nightclub performer played by Marie Windsor finally triggers him off.

    After that Franz is on a rampage, killing women almost at random from various San Francisco rooftops. The film was shot on location in San Francisco and The Sniper bears a whole lot of resemblance to The Naked City where Jules Dassin made New York's mean streets as much a star as the human players. Director Edward Dmytryk does the same for San Francisco.

    And the cops here are much like Barry Fitzgerald and Don Taylor from that film. Watching the film I wonder how much persuasion it took to get Adolphe Menjou to shave off that famous wax mustache of his, a remnant of fashion from a bygone era. It certainly wouldn't have gone with his role as a homicide cop. But the voice is distinctive and Menjou put it over. Acting as his younger sidekick is Gerald Mohr.

    What's ironic in The Sniper is that the whole thing is a desperate cry for help to a world to busy to care. The minor key ending of The Sniper brings that point home quite vividly.

    The Sniper is a noir classic, not as glamorous as Dirty Harry Callahan's pursuit of another twisted individual through San Francisco, but a whole lot more realistic.
  • seaview120 July 2000
    8/10
    realistic study of a serial killer
    I saw this long ago and I highly recommend that you seek this out for viewing. Please excuse any lapses of memory. This interesting study of a loner(B Movie actor Arthur Franz gives the performance of his career!) who hates women and is compelled to shoot them. As a manhunt ensues in the city (San Francisco I recall), the victims begin to mount until there is a suspenseful climax. A young Richard Kiley and venerable Adolphe Menjou(who ironically played in some daring dramas like Paths of Glory-yet testified before the House UnAmericans Committee for the blacklists)play the lead detectives.

    Suffice it to say that this film not only deals intelligently with a serious subject matter, it ends in such a believable and non-cliched way that I loved this film!

    Fritz Lang's M was probably the best of this genre and Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer was pretty impressive for a modern audience. Somewhere in between, The Sniper has its place from a fifties sensibility as a sleeper to be studied by today's more discerning audiences. Indeed, as Marnie is being rediscovered for its merits, The Sniper is a film ahead of its time.
  • bill engleson2 December 2004
    another rare and excellent noir travelogue
    Someone previously has mentioned the value in this sort of location- driven film noir. As 60% of THE SNIPER was filmed on the 1951 streets of San Francisco, we and our descendants will benefit from these wonderful glimpses into the past. The story itself, perhaps somewhat naive as an earlier reporter comments, is intense and strangely current. Richard Wiley's psychiatrist makes a long,and not a little tedious, call for better treatment for sexual predators. Society is still unable to provide early diagnosis not to mention sufficient resources for treatment. As a film noir thriller, we are drawn into the sniper's pathetic personal pain. As a cautionary note, one might well choose to learn from the missteps of victims in this film and stay home and never take unnecessary risks such as meeting new people or expressing any public views that might set someone off on a killing spree. Fortunately we are garrulous beings for the most part and likely won't hibernate our lives away. Still, this film captures the randomness of psychotic death dealers fairly efficiently. The cast is uniformly excellent. I wonder if Adolf Menjou watched NAKED CITY and picked up a few disheveled pointers from Barry Fitzgerald. As a final note, I have to wonder why this excellent little film, like so many. has been hidden from us. Surely I'm not one of so few who love these gems?
  • dbdumonteil16 September 2006
    All those arms....
    Warning: Spoilers
    1952: "the sniper".A desperate serial killer burns his hand and is wearing a bandage during the whole film,a bandage which will play an important part in the story.

    1953:"the juggler" A Jew ,a survivor from the concentration camps , is a juggler and a ventriloquist;his hand "talks" and during one scene,he gags it.

    1954:"the Caine mutiny " :a supporting character,played by José Ferrer arrives with his arm in a sling.There is no connection with the plot.Someone wrote me to tell me there was an explanation (Ferrer would have been really injured or something like that) Those are strange coincidences though: some critics think that it's Dmytryk feeling guilt after the witch hunt .

    Gossips ,you will say. And you are certainly right.

    "The sniper" is an excellent thriller: when you see the dismal contemporary movies dealing with the subject,you realize how much Dmytryk and Powell ("Peeping Tom" 1960) were ahead of their time.

    Whatever the shrink says or explains , the sniper will remain a mystery to the world."His mother probably treated him badly"he says.

    His misogyny is monstrous and knows no bounds .Some clues are given to us: the sniper cannot stand the sight of lovers kissing, he sees narcissistic Mary Windsor looking at her picture ,and most of all,at work,he is humiliated cause he must obey a woman,which ,at the time,was not so obvious.But the most terrifying scene takes place at the fair ! Hatred for women was never filmed with such a strength.

    Another admirable scene: the sniper, on the roof,with that little man,up there, on the high chimney , accusing him; his escape in the streets where the walls seem to imprison him (there's a similar sequence in " the juggler" when Kirk Douglas's claustrophobia drives him insane)

    And if the last picture does not move you,nothing will...
  • dougdoepke25 January 2008
    It's not Ducks He's Shooting
    The trouble is Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz) just can't keep himself from shooting women. Plus, he does it from a distance with a sniper's rifle which makes him doubly hard to catch. Today, the sex angle would likely be played up, turning him into a serial rapist. Here, however, his sick motivation looks more like pure rage than sexual desire. Everywhere he goes, he's either humiliated or rejected by women. He's attractive enough (probably too much so to be credible), but he has a personality problem. In short, Eddie simply can't accept himself as a deliveryman; instead, he builds himself up with obvious exaggerations to impress strangers, such that when pretty barfly May Nelson approaches, he ends up offending her with wild stories. Like Psycho's Norman Bates, the problem probably goes all the way back to Mom.

    It's certainly a very watchable movie. The San Francisco locations are used to great effect-- the cops surveilling downtown rooftops from on high sets up a marvelous panoramic look at the city. Then too, the smokestack scene with its human fly amounts to pure cinematic magic. A problem in the film lies with too much obviousness where a lighter hand is needed. Thus, when Eddie goes on a little downtown stroll, he doesn't encounter just one woman-caused frustration, but a whole heavy-handed series of them. Too bad, because we get the idea early on that petty annoyances involving women amount to major injuries in Eddie's twisted world. Then there's the let's- hit-you-over-the-head-in-case-you-don't-get-it last scene; it's about as necessary as strip-poker at a nudist colony. Still and all, the movie's heart is in the right place, even if it appears made at times for the slow-witted.

    One big benefit for 50's-era fans is cult favorite Marie Windsor in a low-cut evening gown, purring her seductive lines to Eddie even as she exploits him to the hilt. What a great cameo from a really unusual actress.Too bad their scene together comes so early because it's a pip and a movie high point. Speaking of film eras, compare the themes and locations of this movie (1951) with the cinematically similar, Vietnam-era Dirty Harry (1971). Tellingly, the hopeful reformism that Kramer&Co. plead for in Sniper has been replaced by a kind of hopeless vigilantism where Harry (Clint Eastwood) ends up rejecting city hall, killing the sniper, and throwing away his policeman's badge. Mark it down to what you will, but the change-over is pretty stark and startling. Anyway, this little B-film created quite a stir at the time and remains an interesting piece of movie history, well worth thinking about
  • Scarecrow-8826 February 2007
    8/10
    The Sniper
    Warning: Spoilers
    Eddie Miller(Arthur Franz)is a deeply disturbed man, whose psychiatrist was away for two weeks, can not control the urges pulsating inside him. After a self-inflicted hand burn on a stove eye, Eddie is the ultimate example of a cry for help. He himself wishes to be locked away before the drive to kill is realized yet when this doesn't happen many female victims will suffer for it. That uncontrollable monster inside springs forth meticulously as Eddie chooses women who fit the type that represents his mother, ambiguously hinted at briefly. When Jean Darr(the great Marie Windsor), a bar pianist is assassinated, two San Francisco detectives, Lt. Frank Kafka(Adolphe Menjou)and Sgt Joe Ferris(Gerald Mohr)face the pressure of catching Eddie before more killings arise. Yet, this task isn't easy and when a third victim is a prominent society woman, the press and frightened public is breathing down the police's back to catch the sniper, who sits on top of buildings patiently awaiting the perfect shot. Eddie has a harsh criminal record including a nasty attack on a woman with a baseball bat. But, bit by bit Eddie makes little mistakes that will inevitably feed the police leads in catching up to him including an incident at a carnival.

    Surprisingly frank in a professional manner, addresses sexual deviancy preaching the word against allowing sex offenders and predators(..peeping toms, etc.)on the streets so easily. The film is handled with kid gloves thanks to good direction by the reliable Edward Dmytryk and intelligent writing. We see how the public can not get enough of the case as people always rush to crime scenes and such trying to see for themselves Eddie's handiwork. Arthur Franz is quite good as the killer, showing the agony tormenting him..that festering desire to kill etched on his face and in how he carries himself. We also see how the case takes it's toll on the detectives really mounted with pressure to find the assassin.
  • Robert J. Maxwell15 January 2005
    8/10
    So much better than it would be if remade today.
    Warning: Spoilers
    I think I've only seen this twice -- once in its release, when I was a kid, and again on TV, about ten years ago, so my memory of the details are a bit fuzzy. The plot is rudimentary by our standards. A sniper (Arthur Franz) is stalking San Francisco. The police (Adolf Menjou) want to either shoot him or catch him and send him to the gas chamber. The humanist psychiatrist (Richard Kiley) argues that anyone who snipes women who are strangers to him must be mentally ill and the object of his capture should be incarceration and treatment rather than death.

    As I said, it's pretty dated, isn't it? Compare it to "Dirty Harry," in which the sniper is nothing more than an evildoer who shoots San Franciscans "because he likes it." The Dirty Harry sniper is protected by an ineffectual judicial system. We root for Harry who simply wants to "shoot the b******." How times have changed. About the time this movie was released, my underaged friends and I used to peek through the windows of a lesbian bar in Greenwich Village. Every third or fourth time we were lined up with our noses against the glass, a police officer would sneak up behind us and go down the row hitting us on top of the head with his baton -- BOP,BOP,BOP... Always the same cop! And without even reading us our rights! That's the attitude of the police in this movie. The cops are practically paleolithic. Nobody's hampered by this business about fair treatment. Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out! (Please, that's called "sarcasm".)

    Menjou is outraged and snappish, Kiley the voice of sweet reason. And Franz, the sniper? Well, it had something to do with his mother. We don't find this out until about half way through the movie when his landlady tells him to be careful with his stove, didn't his mother ever teach him that? Franz stops in mid-stair and grimly announces, "My mother never taught me anything."

    The movie is dated in two other ways. I can't tell you how shocking the murder scenes were in 1952. The critics were appalled and some theaters edited out the shootings. But the two or three that are shown on the screen are in long shot and by current standards ludicrously tame.

    Here's the other way in which its dated -- the resolution. The police finally identify the sniper, find out which barren room Franz lives in, determine that he's at home, and surround the place with an army of cop cars and tommy-gun agents of the law, every sight trained on the windows of Franz's digs. Franz spots them, assembles and loads his rifle, and waits for them. Menjou, who has by this time begun to see what Kiley has been driving at, calls through a bullhorn for Franz to come out with his hands up. Silence. The cops want to turn the apartment into lace but Menjou demurs. Let's try to talk to him first. A party of them, bristling with guns, sneaks up the stairs and slowly swings open the door to Franz's room expecting him to start shooting. Instead they find Franz sitting in front of the windows, rifle across his lap, catatonic, tears on his face.

    Imagine a similar contemporary movie ending with such a dying fall. Would the cops find Franz sitting quietly alone? That's meant to be a rhetorical question. I think we all know what would happen in a modern movie when the police surrounded Franz's apartment. Just follow the numbers. Every window for miles around would be shattered by bullets. The walls would be splattered with blood and brains. The sniper would drag a 40 millimeter cannon out of his closet. San Francisco would be levelled. The actual quiet resolution would generate in modern audiences a vague sense of disappointment. "Talky," the kids would complain between gulps of high-energy soft drinks. "Too slow."

    Stanley Kramer, never an articulate man in his own right, turned extraordinarily preachy in his later movies, but this is Kramer during his early period, when he didn't LOOM over his productions quite so much. Splendid use is made of unfamiliar and very ordinary San Francisco locations, by the way. The movie was shot at a time when the city still had a sizable working-class population, now largely disappeared.

    Worth seeing, definitely.
  • Spikeopath1 June 2009
    8/10
    You must stop me before I do it again.
    "High among police problems is that of the sex criminal, responsible last year alone for offences which victimised 31,175 women. Adequate and understanding laws do not exist. Law enforcement is helpless. Here in terms of one case, is the story of a man whose enemy was womankind"

    Produced by Stanley Kramer, directed by Edward Dmytryk and photographed by Burnett Guffey. Those three things were enough to make me positively desperate to see this film at the earliest opportunity, what I hadn't counted on, and what a true surprise it was too, was just what a taut and tightly scripted picture it is. Written by Edward and Edna Anhalt, who were academy award nominated for their efforts, The Sniper has an edgy griminess to it that itches away at the skin. It's not that the violence is particularly harsh, because it isn't and it's simply executed, it's that our protagonist Edward 'Eddie' Miller is on the surface a normal every day Joe, someone who may be living in our respective neighbourhoods.

    This is one of those films that, and I disagree with some of my fellow reviewers here, is as relevant today as it was back in 1952. Problems of not recognising psychotic tendencies do still way lay our respective societies, the police and medical staff do still have problems nipping in the bud potential street walking maniacs from being in our midst. Here we get Arthur Franz (Sands of Iwo Jima & The Caine Mutiny) as Miller brilliantly essaying a mind fragmenting by the day, his hatred of women born from some dark place long back in his childhood. Even little girls on the street bring him out in a sweat, as a mother slaps her child, Miller feels the burn on his very own face as well. Some scenes linger once the film has long since finished, a chimney stack shooting or a fair ground sequence as Miller's built up frenzy rises to the surface, all brilliantly put together by Dmytryk and Guffey, with the latter's work in and around San Francisco very impressive. Fleshing out the cast with impacting results is Adolphe Menjou, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor, Frank Faylen & Richard Kiley.

    It's a fabulous character study that also excellently brings notice to the plight of police procedural matters on a case such as this. No this film isn't some sex maniac shocker that defined a genre, it is however an important film in many ways. Its themes that it highlights are not to be ignored, and for 1952 this film to me has to be seen as a landmark of sorts, certainly its influence can be found in many a similar film that followed further on down the line. Finally, because it's largely unseen, it's now available on DVD, so hopefully more people can get to see this highly recommended film. A film that may be beautiful to look at, but most assuredly is very very dark in thematics. 8/10
  • sol121828 February 2007
    7/10
    Please stop me before I kill again!
    Warning: Spoilers
    (There are Spoilers) Having a deep psychological fear as well as hatred of women since he was a little boy Eddie Miller, Arthur Franz, grew up to become a serial abuser and later murderer of women. We get a little insight in what makes Eddie tick when we first see him as he walks alone one evening on the streets of San Francisco. Everywhere he looks he sees women, young and old, as his enemies which leads him to lose it and decide to do them before they do him in.

    The movie does have Eddie involved with women like his boss at the Alpine Cleaners & Dryers and his elderly landlady where he seems to act normal with them. It's when he tries to make it with night-club piano player Jean Darr, Marie Windsor, who's dress he, as a diver for Alpine cleaners & Dryers, was delivering and the way she treats him as if he were just a little boy instead of a man that has Eddie finally freak out and go psycho. To the point of murdering some half dozen people, with Jean as his first victim, and sending the people, mostly women, of San Francisco into a total state of panic where they didn't feel safe on the streets or in their homes anytime of the day and night.

    The movie seems to be based on the string of murders in Chicago back in 1946 by 17 year-old William Heirens who had the same kind of hangups that the fictitious Eddie Miller had. In that Heirens had an uncontrollable hatred of women and murdered three of them , one of his victims was a 7 year-old girl, until he was finally caught by the police. Heirens like Eddie Miller knew that he was sick and desperately wanted to get help. But back then people like himself weren't treated for their mental illness, by being put away and treated in a mental institution, but for their criminal actions by locking them up in prison. Where they would get no help and later when, if they didn't murder anyone, after being let out continue their life of crime.

    The movie has in it a prison psychiatrist Dr.Kent, Richard Kiley, giving a speech to a number of city officials, including the mayor, about how people like the at large sniper, Eddie Miller, in the movie is the victim of an uncaring society in not recognizing his illness and not having him treated for it that makes him as much of a victim as those that he victimizes. Eddie himself knows that he's a sick man, he spent time in a prison psycho ward for assault, and tries to get help by going as far as burning his right hand on a stove in order to get admitted into a local hospital. Only to end up getting his hand bandaged and released within an hour.

    One of the first films to address mental illness and does it with a man who's not only sick but murderous as well. Which makes it very very difficult to have any kind of sympathy for him but at the same time realize that his actions are that of a man who can't control them, they control him. The film "The Sniper" has as the cop in charge of the sniper killings an almost unrecognizable, with out his famous mustache, Adolphe Menjou as SFPD detective Let. Kafka, was there a hidden meaning in that?. Let. Kafkas assistant and sidekick is the tough Humphrey Bogart look-alike, but looking some 15 years younger, Gerald Mohr as Sgt. Joe Ferris. The two track the killer down in his rooming house in the films very tense and nerve wracking final with almost the entire population of San Francisco looking on.
  • jkholman6 March 2006
    Franz's return of the invisible man (w/out the laughs)
    I was fortunate enough to not only find this on e-bay, but secure a viewable copy. Finally got around to watching it last night. I did not connect the actor Arthur Franz (in the credits) with the face until the opening scenes in the film, but immediately made a connection. This is the same guy from Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man. And he was just a little creepy in that comedy (which I like a lot). With that, I knew Franz was going to be excellently cast as the sick young man(I got the film to get another look at Marie Windsor). This is a very well done story and the violent scenes are not dated (you try making an effective film with the production codes and social conventions from 1952, Mr. Know-it-all), but detached and cold. This one drives the point home. And while Arthur Franz did not get an Oscar nomination (maybe he did not deserve one), he could have the satisfaction of knowing he turned in a solid performance.
  • blanche-225 July 2014
    8/10
    good psychological noir
    "The Sniper" is an unusual noir from director Edward Dmytryk in his first film after being on the blacklist. It's unusual in that it's the story of a man's violence against women - multiple women, and he's seen shooting them.

    Filmed in San Francisco, though the city isn't mentioned, the film stars Arthur Franz, a familiar face to TV audiences and a man who rarely had a lead in films -- in fact, this may be his only lead. Nevertheless, he does a compelling job as a disturbed man who wants to be stopped.

    The chase scene at the end is particularly good. Another familiar face, the wonderful Richard Kiley, plays a psychiatrist.

    Violence against women certainly became a big subject later on, but there wasn't much about it back in the'40s and '50s. There was, however, during and post-war, a good deal about the psychological trauma of returning soldiers. This is one of them, and it's excellent.
  • whpratt128 February 2007
    8/10
    A Gem of a Picture
    This film was created by a cast of very talented people, actors, producer, director and author. The picture is filmed on location in San Francisco and shows how the city looked during the 1950's. This film reminded me of "Targets" with Boris Karloff, where a person decides to take out his target practice out on human subjects. In this film, women seem to be the problem with this killer who is lacking a sex life because he just doesn't seem to trust any female person in his life. Adolphe Menjou (Police Lt. Frank Kafka) plays an outstanding role as a very frustrated police officer who has a hard time tying to figure out just what is the motive for this crime spree through out San Francisco. Richard Kiley,(Dr. James G. Kent) tries to assist the police lieutenant by indicating this is really a sex crime because of an abused childhood and also a history of attacks on the female society in general. Arthur Franz,(Eddie Miller) gives an outstanding performance as a very mixed up person who just can't seem to get along with GIRLS Period. This is a great film from 1952 and very well worth your time to view and enjoy how this subject was handled way back Fifty Five (55) years ago.
  • museumofdave8 March 2013
    8/10
    Solid Little Noir With Unusual San Francisco Location Shooting
    Decades ago, I used to hang out in San Francisco's North Beach at a little bar called the Paper Doll, long-gone. I thought I'd never see it again in any form and here it is used as a central murder location along with unusual shots of Chinatown, Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill, all gritty location shots for this tight little noir about a unhappy killer driven by a loathing of women; it's a fast-paced 88 minute "B" movie with some "A" credentials including an aging Adolphe Menjou, barely recognizable without mustache and a tux, and director Edward Dmytryk, both working with a script that rushes the viewer along with the ruthlessly driven dry-cleaner delivery man, unhappy with the world and with his sickness.

    Keeping in mind this was a low-budget film made quickly on-site with minimum studio interference, it's a riveting, if occasionally dated, thriller. A note: although set in San Francisco, the film goes out of its way NOT to identify the city, a fact pointed out in the casually excellent feature commentary by Eddie Muller, one of my personal faves.
  • nomoons119 October 2011
    7/10
    I imagine Charles Whitman saw this years before he thought of the UT tower
    Seeing this you'll get an idea of what's in the mind of people who aren't quite raised right.

    This is just a beautifully filmed little noir. The San Fransisco scenery is just stunning. A really well put together film about a guy who just doesn't like women who talk down to him. You can see him seething underneath as he slunks away in those instances but you just know that he's gonna pop...and he does.

    This one all comes down to getting people help for psychological problems early on in life. Some go through the system and never get what they need in the way of some kinda therapy and they eventually...fall through the cracks. This guy wants the help but it's just not their.

    I can't say enough at how well this film looks. Add substance and a really good story and that makes for a worthwhile watch. Give this one a go.
  • zardoz-137 March 2013
    10/10
    An Excellent Serial Killer Saga Predating "Dirty Harry"
    Warning: Spoilers
    Before Edward Dmytryk made "Raintree County," he made a number of B-movie thrillers that stand out. "The Sniper" was one of the earliest examples of a serial killer movie. Edward Franz plays a troubled delivery man for a clothes cleaning service. He is driven to shoot women with a carbine. The irony is that the protagonist wants desperately to be captured by the police. Eddie keeps a carbine in his dresser drawer, and the police have launched a full-scale search. Despite being made in the early 1950s, this melodrama is pretty good with Franz turning in a compelling performance. Clocking in at 88 minutes, "The Sniper" is a crisp, sharp, suspense film that doesn't wear out its welcome. Moreover, "The Sniper" is a forerunner of Don Siegel's "Dirty Harry." Dmytryk and lenser Burnett Guffey make good use of actual on-location photography that gives this thriller a lot of atmosphere. The name of the cop assigned to bring Eddie in is Lieutenant Frank Kafka. Talk about an unusual name. In the finale, the cop storm Eddie's apartment house building, blast the door with a Thompson machine gun, and find the villain clutching his carbine with a tear rolling down his cheek.
  • MartinHafer3 March 2007
    8/10
    Despite some understandable mistakes here and there, this is a very brave and engaging film
    This is an amazingly daring film. Considering it was released in 1952, it's a very brave movie because it involves a sexual psychopath who kills women with a rifle. While this guy never sexually assaulted the women, he held a deep-seeded hatred for them and tended to attack women who looked similar or who seemed aggressive or emasculating. It is surprising, though, not only that they do a film about such a person but that they don't pass him off as just a "psycho"--the sexual aspect is mentioned and the police theorize that he might have had a history of sexual offenses. In fact, when it comes to profiling and understanding the mind of this vicious killer, the film is exceptional--as I have experience working with this population. At times, the movie makes the common mistakes of the day concerning sex crimes--such as talking about possibility of "curing" a sexual offender and one guy who talks about how society is to blame. But it also is dead-on when mentioning the repetitive nature of the crime, the profile and the type work police really do. It is a strikingly realistic film with exceptional camera work and dialog--making it a great example of a Film Noir film that is semi-documentary in style. Unfortunately, the film could have even gotten a score of 9 had the ending not been so anti-climactic.
  • johno-2114 March 2007
    8/10
    An Enemy of Womankind
    The prologue of this film tells us that this is the story of a man whose enemy was womankind. I just recently have seen this 1952 film. I guess with the current film Zodiac in theaters about a real serial killer frightening San Francisco in the 1960's, Turner Classics dug this out of vaults. This is a fictionalized story of a serial killer frightening San Francisco in the 1950's. I had heard of this film and was happy to have finally seen it. This is an early 1950's b-movie crime drama that would in later years fall into the Film Noir category. This is shot on location in San Francisco and uses actual outdoor settings that give this a documentary feeling to it's look. Because so much filming utilized actual city locations it also makes for a wonderful photo album of what San Francisco looked like in the mid 20th century. Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz) is a seemingly meek and mild delivery driver for a dry cleaning service. He has some unresolved issues with his mother that are not fully explained to us but it has led him on path of abusing and hating women that has led to several arrests including a recent 18 month stay in a psycho ward for assault with a baseball bat. His immediate boss at the dry cleaners (Geraldine Carr) is constantly riding his case for tardiness and inferior work and this probably sends him to the ultimate next step in his hatred of women and that is killing them. Miller lives in a boarding house run by a kindly elderly landlady (Mabel Paige) who is probably the only woman he likes. A client of the cleaners befriends him when he delivers to her house. Joan Darr (Marie Windsor) is a lovely piano player in a neighborhood tavern and has a tough street-wise edge to her. Darr's innocent and friendly brush off of Miller is the last straw that sets off his murder spree. Armed with a M1 carbine and scope that he had stolen and that can be broke down and carried in a briefcase he goes hunting in the city. Lt. Frank Kafka (Adolphe Menjou), Sgt. Joe Ferris (Gerald Mohr) and Insp. Anderson (Frank Faylen) are the police team assigned to capture him with the help of psychologist Dr. James Kent (Richard Kiley) who gives an early version of police profiling to the story and is sympathetic to the killer as suffering from mental illness and not as someone evil. Miller sends notes to the police urging them to stop him but he makes no effort to turn himself in and can't control his murderous thoughts and actions. For a low budget B-movie there are some talented filmmakers involved. Stanley Kramer who as a director/producer earned nine Academy Award nominations for such films as High Noon, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and The Defiant Ones is the film's producer. Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood 10 blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and who received an Oscar nomination for Crossfire and also directed such films as Murder My Sweet and The Blue Angel is the film's director. Burnett Guffey who won Oscars for Bonnie and Clyde and From Here to Eternity and who was nominated for three more in his long career is the film's cinematographer. Edward Anhalt who won two Oscars for Beckett and Panic in the Streets, was nominated for an Oscar for this film for Best Writing along with his former wife Edna Anhalt. Scriptwriter Harry Brown also worked on this film. Aaron Stell who edited such films as To Kill a Mockingbird, Fear Strikes Out and Baby the Rain Must Fall is the film's editor. Look for Wally Cox in a small role. If you are a seasoned follower of the Zodiac Killer story you will find several interesting references and similarities throughout this film. Despite the talented filmmakers and cast this isn't the greatest example of Film Noir but it has it's merits and is a very unusual film. I would give this an 8.0 out of 10 and recommend looking for it.
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.