A few weeks ago I finally caught up with THE SNIPER (1952) on TCM, which tracks the brutal crimes of a gun-wielding maniac stalking women on the streets of San Francisco. The film boasts an impressive pedigree that includes director Edward Dmytryk, producer Stanley Kramer, screenwriters Harry Brown along with Edna and Edward Anhalt, cinematographer Burnett Guffey and composer George Antheil but outside of screenings on TCM, it has been somewhat hard to see until recently thanks to a Columbia DVD release in 2009.
THE SNIPER is usually described as an atypical noir and although I’d previously seen the film mentioned in Michael Weldon’s indispensable Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film it’s most often cited in fim noir texts where it’s usually compared with gangster pictures or mentioned alongside Dmytryk’s early noirs such as MURDER, MY SWEET (1944) and CORNERED (1945). The film has also frequently been compared with Don Siegel’s DIRTY HARRY (1971), which similarly took place in San Francisco and involved a gun-toting mad man but both films have a very different tone. I personally found Dmytryk’s film bone-chilling and more aligned with horror films than police procedurals. THE SNIPER may not look like a typical 1950s horror production when sized-up against other genre pictures of the period but many of the most celebrated serial killer movies that followed in its wake such as Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO (1960) and Peter Bogdanovich‘s TARGETS (1968) are undoubtedly indebted to it. Hidden beneath the film’s noir trappings and a surprisingly contemporary but somewhat heavy-handed social message, you’ll find a vicious little horror-filled thriller that explores the troubling crossroads of misogyny, madness and murder.
Continue reading “A Killer Stalks the Streets of San Francisco in Edward Dmytryk ‘s THE SNIPER (1952)” at Turner Classic Movies official blog: The Movie Morlocks