Combustible Celluloid
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With: Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Gerald Mohr, Marie Windsor, Frank Faylen, Richard Kiley, Mabel Paige, Marlo Dwyer, Geraldine Carr
Written by: Harry Brown, based on a story by Edna Anhalt, Edward Anhalt
Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 87
Date: 05/09/1952

The Sniper (1952)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like Murder by Contract, The Sniper is another portrait of a killer and, like The Lineup, another film set in San Francisco, but it lacks just about everything that made the other two films great. It was produced by Stanley Kramer and directed by Edward Dmytryk, and it's absolutely terrified that its messages will pass by unnoticed; Dmytryk hammers them home, scene after scene. It's overwrought, overcooked and overacted. Arthur Franz stars as Eddie Miller, a psychopath who hates women. Dmytryk demonstrates this over and over and over again, just in case we missed it. He also has a carbine rifle and likes to climb on top of buildings and shoot the women that bug him. Lieutenant police detective Frank Kafka (no symbolism there) -- played by Adolphe Menjou -- is on the case. (The old veteran Menjou provides the only hint of subtlety in the film.) Rather than the amoral cipher of Murder by Contract, this killer is psychoanalyzed left and right, and he becomes nothing more than a lesson that the filmmakers are trying to teach us. He's not interesting as a character. And unlike The Lineup, Dmytryk doesn't really give the city much of a personality. The wonderful Marie Windsor co-stars as one of Eddie's victims, but she's not onscreen long enough to save the picture. Martin Scorsese provides a little analysis of the film.

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