Sunday 27 April 2014

The Sniper [1952]

The Sniper marked return to filmmaker for Edward Dmytryk who’d been blacklisted and jailed for having refused to testify at HUAC during ‘McCarthy Witch Hunts’. Though it begins with a preachy social message, it turned out to be anything but a message film except for a brief moment which can easily be ignored. This taut, economical, muscular and edgy noir, focused on a psychologically unstable serial killer. Eddie Miller (Arthur Franz) is a delivery guy at San Francisco haunted by memories of his mother; his barely controlled sexual urges finally collapse when a sultry lady he possibly is infatuated with treats him with casual disdain, and he starts killing one brunette after another with his sniper rifle. Police Lt. Kafka (Adolphe Menjou), a weary and ageing cop, and Sgt. Ferris (Gerald Mohr), his wisecracking sidekick, are assigned the task of catching the mysterious killer who has got the whole city gripped under paranoia and fear. Further dimensions were added to the script when a group of powerful men, including those in the media, are shown meeting the Mayor to drive home their point – the director’s vitriol towards wealthy men flagrantly abusing their position of power couldn’t have been more obvious in this scene. Though we never get to know about Miller’s history or how he became such a crack-shot, his present state was well-portrayed wherein, despite being a cold-blooded murderer, one would sympathize with this deeply troubled loner. Menjou, too, was good, in this gripping and tightly plotted, if not a flawless, film comprising of good B/W photography, tense moments and fine set-pieces.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Genre: Film Noir/Thriller/Psychological Thriller/Police Procedural
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

A great psychological noir with some superb visual craftsmanship. As always you paint a complete picture with your deft and intricate analysis.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. This is really an underrated noir that deserves greater dissemination.