The Sniper (1952)
Film: I really love crime stories. As a kid, in between horror and sci-fi novels, I’d occasionally find an old crime novel and get stuck into that as well. I still like to read those sorts of novels and thankfully, the people at the Hard Case Crime book company issue some great stories both from classic authors like Ray Chandler, from better known authors like Steven King, and by other authors with… well, different backgrounds like Christa Faust.
I get my in-screen thills mainly from TV shows like CSI, NCIS, and Criminal Minds (a show watched so often at my house that the title score has both lyrics and a dance written and performed by my daughter and I) but I still don’t mind getting my movie crime drama on by watching an occasional noir flick, and thankfully, Umbrella Entertainment have this one available to buy now.
The Sniper was written by Harry Brown, the screenplay writer of the original Oceans’ 11 from a story by Edna Anhalt, and directed by Edward Dmytryk, who gave us other noir films like Crossfire, Obsession and Cornered.
The Sniper tells of Edward Miller (Arthur Franz), an ex-convict who is having trouble adapting to life on the outside, and whose resentment towards happy couples, has escalated into full blown hatred of women, and his need to execute them with hid rifle.
When he kills musician Jean Darr (Marie Windsor), it starts a city wide investigation, spearheaded by Lt. Frank Kafka (Adolphe Menjou), and as the bodies of brunettes starts to pile up, the police work on a psychological profile of the killer, and start to close in.
I really love this sort of movie, and several months ago I reviewed the Sharpshooter Trilogy from Something Weird Video, and after seeing this for the first time, I’ve come to realise that maybe those films were desperately trying to emulate this one, with less success.
The film is very progressive for its time, sure there are some unfortunate references to American indigenous people and a few sexist terms, but the discussions with what should be done with people suffering from violent psychological problems is so advanced.
There is solid acting throughout the piece, and truly the direction is above what you would be used to in this world of blockbusters, Marvels and Star Warses. There are two scenes in particular that stick out, such as the baseball scene, the ‘hand burn’ scene and the actually final moments.
Fantastically, the film has pre-credit title cards that have mentions of the lack of laws for those with psychological issues, so it does feel like it’s somewhat of a message movie, and I guess it is.
This is not a high powered full of gunfire and death, but it is a well crafted piece of cinema that will sit with you for a bit. Anyone who has seen Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver or Todd Phillips’ Joker will probably enjoy this need though it is not related to a comic character, so don’t make that mistake. This really is a very early example of what some may describe today as an ‘incel’ film
Extras: Only a small amount of extras but some good ones though.
Introduction by Martin Scorsese sees Mr. Scorsese talk about noir movies and their influences on modern cinema. Really, who else is there to talk about this type of film.
There’s a commentary on the film by author Eddie Muller is fascinating and well worth the listen too. Muller is the president of the Film Noir Foundation, which is all about restoring some of the amazing noir films of the 40s and 50s, and his expertise is a joy to listen to.
Noir trailers, including this film, Crossfire, The Big Sleep, Lady in the Lake, The Brasher Doubloon, The Maltese Falcon, and many more, literally over a 100 minutes of noir trailers. The quality is various but it’s a fascinating watch.
WISIA: Yes. 100%.
This Bluray was supplied by Umbrella Entertainment for review