Sniper, The (1952)

Sniper, The (1952)

“There’s a maniac on the loose, and the police seem helpless!”

A mentally disturbed laundry delivery man (Arthur Franz) fantasizes about — and then carries out — repeated sniper-murders of women, including a sympathetic pianist (Marie Windsor). Can a pair of detectives (Adolphe Menjou and Gerald Mohr) solve the mystery of the sniper before even more victims are lost?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Adolphe Menjou Films
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Edward Dmytryk Films
  • Marie Windsor Films
  • Serial Killers

It’s a shame this atmospherically filmed psycho-noir thriller — directed by Edward Dmytryk — takes such a heavy-handed and didactic approach to its material, given the inherently dramatic nature of the storyline and protagonist. Franz is presented as a starkly ill young veteran who’s aware enough of his own psychological problems to burn his hand in an attempt to seek help, yet is dismissed without support, and thus left to his brutal rampage.

This early plea mitigates his guilt, making it especially hard for us to watch his sociopathic actions as he brutally tracks down one woman after the other. The men in charge of searching out “the sniper” are frustratingly incompetent as well — a police line-up scene is especially poorly written — leading us to simply watch the proceedings with increasing dread. With that said, Burnett Guffey’s cinematography is stellar and the location-shooting is highly effective, making this a visual treat but a narrative disappointment.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Burnett Guffey’s cinematography

  • Excellent location shooting

  • George Antheil’s score

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its better qualities.


2 thoughts on “Sniper, The (1952)

  1. Agreed; not must-see. Strange little thing. Dmytryk does what he can with it but the script, by turns, is forced and clumsy.

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Crackerjack crime drama is surprisingly sensitive to the mental illness aspects of the lead character and is a plea for helping such individuals before they commit crimes. Franz is excellent as the troubled, disturbed title character, as is everyone else in this fine film. Special mention to Richard Kiley as the police psychiatrist with all the answers but who is not listened to by the powers that be.

    Director Edward Dymytryk was an old pro and does a great job here and the cinematography by Burnett Guffey is also striking.

    Fascinating film but not must see.

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