The Sniper (1952)

87-88 mins | Drama | May 1952

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Aaron Stell

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
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HISTORY

The following written prologue precedes the opening credits: "A word about the picture which follows: High among police problems is that of the sex criminal, responsible last year alone for offenses which victimized 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." Reviews described the character of "Eddie" as a "sex criminal," and the film depicts the police grilling known sex offenders; while there was no indication Eddie molested his victims, in the film, his clear hatred of women identified him as a sex criminal.
       The HR review indicated that the film mirrored a series of recent sniper shootings in the Los Angeles area. Roy Maypole, a Los Angeles television news broadcaster, played a broadcaster in the film. Although a HR news item indicated that broadcaster Howard K. Smith was cast in the picture, he was not in the released film. The film was shot on location in San Francisco and Long Beach, CA. In a full-page ad for The Sniper in HR , the Stanley Kramer Co. apologized for sending out bullets to critics and industry personnel as part of a pre-invitational screening "teaser." Edward and Edna Anhalt's screen story received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Motion Picture Story) ... More Less

The following written prologue precedes the opening credits: "A word about the picture which follows: High among police problems is that of the sex criminal, responsible last year alone for offenses which victimized 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." Reviews described the character of "Eddie" as a "sex criminal," and the film depicts the police grilling known sex offenders; while there was no indication Eddie molested his victims, in the film, his clear hatred of women identified him as a sex criminal.
       The HR review indicated that the film mirrored a series of recent sniper shootings in the Los Angeles area. Roy Maypole, a Los Angeles television news broadcaster, played a broadcaster in the film. Although a HR news item indicated that broadcaster Howard K. Smith was cast in the picture, he was not in the released film. The film was shot on location in San Francisco and Long Beach, CA. In a full-page ad for The Sniper in HR , the Stanley Kramer Co. apologized for sending out bullets to critics and industry personnel as part of a pre-invitational screening "teaser." Edward and Edna Anhalt's screen story received an Academy Award nomination in the Writing (Motion Picture Story) category. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 Mar 1952.
---
Daily Variety
14 Mar 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Mar 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Sep 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 51
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 51
p. 3, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 51
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 51
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 51
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 51
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 52
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Mar 52
p. 1290.
New York Times
9 May 52
p. 19.
New York Times
10 May 52
p. 16.
Variety
14 Mar 1952.
---
Variety
19 Mar 52
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Les Sketchley
Joe Mell
John A. Butler
Tommy Hawkins
Joe Palma
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 May 1952
Production Date:
24 September--20 October 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 February 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1520
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
87-88
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15575
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Edward Miller, a driver for a dry cleaning company, suffers through the psychological torments of despising women. Surrounded by a carping landlady and shrewish female co-workers, he fantasizes about murdering women, while brandishing an empty rifle. Eddie seeks help from his former physician at the local state prison and becomes distraught when he discovers the doctor is on vacation. In a frantic effort to get help, Eddie purposely burns his hand by placing it on a hotplate. At the hospital the intern, suspicious that the wound was self-inflicted, asks Eddie if he was ever in a mental hospital, and Eddie admits that he was while in prison serving time for assaulting a woman. When the intern consults with a doctor about sending Eddie to the psychiatric ward, the doctor points out that Eddie would be held for only three days and then released. Late for work, Eddie hurries to make a delivery to nightclub singer Jean Darr, who is trying on a low-cut evening gown when he arrives. Jean notices a stain on her gown and asks Eddie if he might do a rush order on it. Eddie agrees and Jean chats pleasantly with him, until a male friend interrupts them. Jean curtly pushes Eddie out the back entrance with the gown. That night, Eddie waits outside of Jean's apartment, carrying his rifle in a small case, and follows her as she walks several blocks to the club at which she performs. Eddie sneaks onto the apartment building rooftop across the street and waits until Jean comes out, then shoots her. Police detectives Lt. Frank Kafka and Sgt. Joe Ferris arrive on the scene and take charge ... +


Edward Miller, a driver for a dry cleaning company, suffers through the psychological torments of despising women. Surrounded by a carping landlady and shrewish female co-workers, he fantasizes about murdering women, while brandishing an empty rifle. Eddie seeks help from his former physician at the local state prison and becomes distraught when he discovers the doctor is on vacation. In a frantic effort to get help, Eddie purposely burns his hand by placing it on a hotplate. At the hospital the intern, suspicious that the wound was self-inflicted, asks Eddie if he was ever in a mental hospital, and Eddie admits that he was while in prison serving time for assaulting a woman. When the intern consults with a doctor about sending Eddie to the psychiatric ward, the doctor points out that Eddie would be held for only three days and then released. Late for work, Eddie hurries to make a delivery to nightclub singer Jean Darr, who is trying on a low-cut evening gown when he arrives. Jean notices a stain on her gown and asks Eddie if he might do a rush order on it. Eddie agrees and Jean chats pleasantly with him, until a male friend interrupts them. Jean curtly pushes Eddie out the back entrance with the gown. That night, Eddie waits outside of Jean's apartment, carrying his rifle in a small case, and follows her as she walks several blocks to the club at which she performs. Eddie sneaks onto the apartment building rooftop across the street and waits until Jean comes out, then shoots her. Police detectives Lt. Frank Kafka and Sgt. Joe Ferris arrive on the scene and take charge of the investigation. The next day, Eddie flirts with a woman in a bar but although she gives him her address and phone number, Eddie grows angry when she traps him in the lies he has told about his job. Later that day, Eddie takes Jean's gown to his room and hides it, but when he suffers a series of humiliating encounters in the park, he returns to his room, tears the dress and burns it in the incinerator. After staring at the address of the woman from the bar, Eddie rips the top off a box of ammunition and writes a note to the police pleading to be stopped as "he's going to kill again." That afternoon, Eddie follows the woman from the bar and shoots her through the window of her apartment. Kafka meets with Inspector Anderson who, in receipt of the box top, orders a roundup of local sex offenders for a lineup from some witnesses. Psychiatrist Dr. James G. Kent tells Kafka that none of the offenders are guilty and later at a restaurant gives Kafka a profile of the murderer as fulfilling a childhood fantasy of killing a particular woman, such as his mother, over and over. Meanwhile, in town, Eddie notices a television program through the window of a store and becomes fixated on society matron Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who is discussing a charity ball. He makes a mental note of her address as she gives it out for tickets. While going through an extensive list of criminal profiles, Kafka and Ferris come across Eddie's record, which lists his assault on a woman with a baseball bat. Just then a report comes in that Mrs. Fitzpatrick has been shot to death. The police are then summoned to a meeting with the mayor and several of the city's political bosses, who demand the killer be found. Dr. Kent grows frustrated when each of the politicos discuss severe punishment for the killer rather than treatment. At the cleaners, Eddie is nagged again by the receptionist, who wonders why Eddie has not changed the dirty bandage on his hand. Later, a woman's body is found shot to death in a local park, and bullet casings and a dirty bandage are discovered nearby. While Eddie burns off his frustration at a local amusement park, Kafka and Ferris have the bandage analyzed and track it to a hospital. There, despite the fact that Eddie registered under another name, the intern indentifies him from the photo in his criminal file. When the cleaner's receptionist reads the newspaper story about the latest murder, she immediately reports Eddie's hand injury and erratic behavior. Kafka and Ferris wait for Eddie at the cleaners, but he is on a local rooftop desperately tracking lone women. When a painter working high on an opposite building sees Eddie and calls a warning to those below, Eddie kills him and frantically flees for home. The police and curious bystanders surround Eddie's building and Inspector Anderson calls to him on a bullhorn to no avail. Kafka and Ferris shoot their way into Eddie's room, where they find him, petrified, clinging to his rifle. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.