The Sniper (1952 film)

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The Sniper
The Sniper 1952.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Stanley Kramer
Screenplay by Harry Brown
Story by Edna Anhalt
Edward Anhalt
Starring Adolphe Menjou
Arthur Franz
Gerald Mohr
Marie Windsor
Richard Kiley
Music by George Antheil
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
Edited by Aaron Stell
Production
  company
Stanley Kramer Productions
Columbia Pictures
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • May 9, 1952 (1952-05-09) (United States)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Sniper is a 1952 black-and-white film noir, directed by Edward Dmytryk, written by Harry Brown, and based on a story by Edna and Edward Anhalt. The film features Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor, among others.

The film marks Dmytryk's return to directing after he had first been named to the Hollywood blacklist and had a jail term for contempt of Congress. He chose to testify in April 1951, and named fellow members of leftist organizations from his brief time with the Communist Party. Afterward, he went into political exile in England for a time. Producer Stanley Kramer was the first to hire him again as a director. He was "required to direct Adolphe Menjou, one of the most virulent Red-baiters of the HUAC hearings."[1]

Plot[edit]

Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz), a San Francisco delivery man, struggles with his hatred of women. He's especially bothered by seeing women with their lovers. Miller knows he is disturbed and, out of despair, self-inflicts burns on his right hand by holding his right hand over the flame on a stove. The doctor treating him in an emergency room suspects he might need psychological help, but gets too busy to follow through.

Miller begins a killing spree as a sniper by shooting women from far distances. Trying to be caught, he writes an anonymous letter to the police begging them to stop him. As the killings continue, a psychologist has the keys (early criminal profiling techniques) to finding the killer. The film is unusual in that its ending is completely non-violent, despite its genre and expectations raised throughout.

Cast[edit]

Production background[edit]

Producer Stanley Kramer was the first to hire Dmytryk as a director after his encounters with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and testifying in 1951. For first refusing to testify, Dmytryk was named as one of the "Hollywood Ten", barred from work in the film industry, and jailed for contempt of Congress. In April 1951, Dmytryk changed his mind and testified, both about his brief time with the Communist Party and naming fellow members of leftist organizations. Afterward, he went into a short political exile in England.[2] For this film, he was "required to direct Adolphe Menjou, one of the most virulent Red-baiters of the HUAC hearings."[3]

The film's comparatively comprehensive outdoor footage of 1952 San Francisco remains unsurpassed in variety for a narrative film.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Critic Bosley Crowther of the New York Times gave the drama a mixed review when it opened, writing:

"Therefore, The Sniper develops, as it casually gets along, into nothing more forceful or impressive than a moderately fascinating "chase." The kick-off murder of a sultry saloon singer, whom Marie Windsor plays, is ticklishly enacted, and the dragnet thrown out by the police, headed by a clean-shaved Adolphe Menjou, is interesting to observe. Frank Faylen, Gerald Mohr and Richard Kiley also contribute to the pace as assorted police factotums, and the real San Francisco building and streets used for locales of the picture give it authority. But the menace and understanding of the sex fiend hopefully implied in the foreword to the picture are never clearly revealed."[4]

British Channel 4's wrote in their 2008 review,

"A little dated now, especially the nervous documentary-style camera work which soon outstays its welcome, The Sniper's thriller mechanics nevertheless work efficiently, while Franz's psycho is uncannily convincing."[5]

Awards[edit]

Nomination

  • Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Writing, Motion Picture Story, Edna Anhalt and Edward Anhalt; 1953.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erickson, Hal. The Sniper at AllMovie.
  2. ^ "Hollywood Ten". Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal. The Sniper at AllMovie.
  4. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, May 10, 1952. Last accessed: January 26, 2008.
  5. ^ Channel 4 film review, 2008. Last accessed: January 26, 2008.

External links[edit]