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Author Topic: The Sniper (1952)  (Read 1240 times)
cigar joe
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« on: October 05, 2011, 04:38:21 PM »

Director: Edward Dmytryk with, Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Marie Windsor, and Gerald Mohr.  A man (Franz) released from prison who has been a looser with women all his life, starts on a trail of murder with a high-power rifle targeting brunettes. The police are baffled by the apparently random killings until a police psychologist sets them on the right trail. Produced by Stanley Kramer its definitely a "message" film one of Kramers trademarks but an enjoyable one. However the message is a bit camouflaged.  If you imagine each shooting to be a sort of codified rape, it makes a bit  more sense when the police are talking about the killings as sex crimes. Its both weird and compelling. The scenes of the women being shot are excellent and disturbing.



Marie Windsor playing a comely nightclub piano player unintentionally sets Franz off on his serial killing spree and in the process becomes his first victim. The script and acting by Franz as the sniper" with his mannerisms and facial tics is extremely convincing.



A lot of on location San Francisco adds to the enjoyment of the film. As part of the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Collection Vol 1 it has an excellent and informative commentary by Eddie Muller whom novelist James Ellroy has dubbed him "The Czar of Noir". So the film can be enjoyed twice 8/10

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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 08:06:22 AM »

nice review, CJ.

I just saw the dvd, I also give it an 8/10

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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 10:06:26 AM »

Just because you guys don't care about my thumbnail review doesn't mean you won't be reading it. From 2009:
Quote
The Sniper (1952) - 7/10. Stanley Kramer's name on the front of this red-flagged it for me, and sure enough, it turned out to be a movie with a message. I guess the message was, Psycho killers are people too. Who knew? But also they're a menace, and nobody wants this particular one on the loose, not even the sniper himself. He keeps sending the police messages hoping they'll put a stop to his compulsion to kill good-looking brunettes, but they take their time about it. When they finally nab him, though,  he's visibly upset about what he's done. A shame about the large body count. Presenting the killer sympathetically was, apparently, a way for the producer to show his good intentions. This isn't your ordinary tawdry tale of serial killings, Mr. Kramer seems to be repeatedly announcing, this is a much more high-toned affair. Oh well, the San Francisco locations are shot well, the score is quite interesting, and the lead actor isn't bad. But what's Adolphe Menjou doing in the picture--and what happened to his mustache?
I should also mention the cool bit of staging involving a guy on a smokestack who unwisely makes himself known to the sniper. An interesting moment I've never seen in any other picture.

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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 10:52:18 AM »

Just because you guys don't care about my thumbnail review doesn't mean you won't be reading it. From 2009:I should also mention the

it's your bad that CJ made this thread rather than me. You know I post all previous reviews when I make a new thread; CJ only does it some of the time.

Actually, it serves you right for not making threads on your own and leaving all the hard work to me and CJ   Tongue


----

say what you will about Kramer and message pictures, but maybe in hindsight, Kramer was right that in some cases we have to focus on the psychiatric aspect and not just the criminal justice aspect. In this movie, it's an extreme case because the killer himself doesn't want to do it, does everything he can to stop himself, but everyone around him, all the "normal" people in society, ignore his cries for help. No doubt, that is an atypical case and therefore, it's perhaps not the best way of sending this message. But the general idea of making sure someone is cured rather than just giving them a jail sentence and saying goodbye, I don't see how you can argue with that.

In fact, the position of this movie is not entirely pro-killer. The psychiatrist says that when someone is imprisoned for these crimes, he should also be treated (a sympathetic-to-the-criminal view), but that if he is found to be untreatable, then he should be held forever even after his sentence is up (definitely a view that is anti-criminal). In current times, no way could you get away with saying someone who doesn't fit the legal definition of insane should be held for life because he will commit a crime when released.
 (My understanding is that the only times we ever do that is with pedophiles if they aren't deemed "cured," they can be held even after their sentence is over; a position that may be quite problematic constitutionally, but in today's day and age we've decided that nothing should get in the way of protecting children...)

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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2013, 10:57:04 AM »

I'd quibble with CJ's mention of "good-looking brunettes" and CJ calling Marie Windsor "comely." I don't think Windsor (or the other victims) were anything special to look at (unless you're talking about Windsor from the neck down...)

Franz was terrific as Eddie Miller the killer; Windsor was really good though she only had a couple of scenes; Menjou was real good too. Nice work with the SF locations.

I've just started watching the dvd again with the Eddie Muller commentary. Eddie Muller insists he is of no relation to Eddie Miller the killer. I'll have to look into that...

--------

btw, I have now seen all the movies in the Columbia Noir Classics Vol. I & II.
Solid sets -  of the 10 films there, I gave seven of them between a 7/10 - 9/10. The exceptions are The Brothers Rico (6/10) and Pushover (6.5/10); and I have no memory of Nightfall, but I see that it's on my list of movies I have watched so I must've seen it but I have no clue what I rated it.

And I've also seen three of the five movies in Vol. III - Drive a Crooked Road, Tight Spot, and The Burglar; I liked 'em all. I've yet to see The Mob or My Name is Julia Ross.


I'll check out Vol. IV at some point, aka when either Netflix or my library gets it  Wink

« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 11:17:06 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 06:26:10 AM »

This was well ahead of times: little has been added since in movies about serial killers with sexual inhibitions. Still I would have gladly done without the psychiatrist' mumble jumble. So I go with CJ's evaluation.

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