At the Pilgrim
Over 3000 women were shot down, "by person or persons unknown," in the streets of this country's cities last year. Seven times that number were injured, beaten, or raped by sexual perverts. Almost every woman has been "peeped at" or bothered at some time in her life. The Sniper is the tale of one oddly twisted man who limited his passion to sniping at young brunettes.
Actually, the story is taken from several police cases on incidents that occurred recently in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Director Edward Dmytryk land his point in San Francisco.
Between the scenes of a police psychiatrist, Frank Faylen, lecturing on the need for in bigger and better mental institutions to care for perverts, are some of the best moments of chair-edge suspense Hollywood has come up with since The Man on the Eiffel Tower. The story is told through the movements, looks, and bits of talk of Arthur Franz, the sniper, and not by tiresome, obvious explanations.
The citizens don't run wild in fear of the roof-top-stalking menace with a carbine and a good eye. The socialites act like socialites and demand the police "do something," and the newspapermen behave almost like newspapermen and threaten to turn the mayor out, of office if the killer is not caught. Except for a couple of lucky breaks, necessary to catch the sniper in an hour and a half, the police go through the dull routine of looking for tips on an unknown man who shoots almost anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Adolphe Menjou, almost unrecognizable without his moustache and cutaway, tracks down the slayer in the unspectacular method of a common, garden variety of plain clothes cop.
This reality, characteristic of a Stanley Kramer production, comes off with the support of San Francisco. The serene, yet topographically distorted city players both the reflector for the sniper's perversion and the background for the everyday extras. George Antheils' background music is tailored to both and gives away neither.
The final scene is a masterpiece on celluloid. The temptation to tell all the final few minutes was over-come by Dmytryk, who successfully poses a delicate question in high drama. See it. Perhaps you'll push for new mental hospitals to take care or the pervert next door. At any rate you'll shy from crowded streets for some time to come.