12 Comments

  1. Well Tony, there is nobody as successful as you in finding stuff I haven’t yet seen, although in this case I am quite familiar with the director Edward Dmytryk, who has a few genuine B classics to his name.
    As always, your discerning eye doesn’t allow you issue the all-too-familiar and facile “what a great B classic” or the likes. In this instance, you have cited the “stolid” acting and “plot contrivances” as the essential problematic elements, yet you have high regard for the on-location San Francisco shooting and “visual interest.” This kind of subject of course has that built-in hook for entertainment, so I definitely am intrigued.
    I do know about that infamous HUAC Dmytryk probe, and it always disturbs me, as does other well-documented witchunts from that period. In any case, it was an excellent historical lead-in, and methinks a worthy enough reason to see this film, as you yourself concede.

  2. I couldn’t agree more your general opinion here, Tony. Turner Classic Movies shows this film from time to time and I’ve seen it at least twice. There are parts I like, actually, including the very ending, but most of the good parts are drowned out by the bad. Excellent review!

  3. Thanks Alexander. Yes,the final stakeout is strong with a cinema verite feel, and the scenes of the nosy public straining against police lines and leaning out of apartment windows remind me of Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon.

  4. Brett Egebo

    About a year ago I read James Wolcott’s brief take on this film which prompted me to watch it also (my cable package currently doesn’t have TCM but it was available On-Demand for free).

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/wolcott/2007/03/selfstyled_sire.html

    While i agree somewhat with this assessment and somewhat with Tony’s, I was struck by how much real though brief emotion and tension (or perhaps just empathy) was created by the deaths of Marie Windsor’s character and that of the barfly.
    Maybe it’s more of a testament to the acting ability of Ms. Windsor (who one feels similarly toward when she’s shot again in the Narrow Margin) and that of Ms. Carr (? -who died only two years later?).
    But I felt that the director was able to accurately portray the kind of postwar,’round-midnite type of isolation (and in the case of the sniper and barfly, desperation) of these three characters – all of which really drew me in.
    Not to mention the gothic cityscape of San Francisco (a disorienting mix of elevations, alleys and architecture – that was also portrayed as an isolating and lonely place, although on a much larger and lusher scale in “Veritgo”).
    Speaking of Hitchcock, “Psycho” also has that same sort of “dime-store psychology” that annoyingly deflates some of the drama and tension of this film.

    Despite the many shortcomings, I liked “The Sniper”.
    I guess I just thought it was interesting that despite the flirtatiousness of Ms. Windsor (and to some extent the barfly), one person ends the night playing piano to an empty club and a solitary walk home, while the other stumbles back to her small apartment only to sleep with an old cloth doll. Both women are just as alone as the sniper.

  5. Thank you so much for your comments Brett. Your thoughts really evoke the essence of the scenes you describe, and highlight strengths in the film I neglected in my review.

  6. Sam, ach – good question. Off the top of my head I think ending at amusement park and I think (and obviously I’m including carnival/travelling fair as “amusement park”) – Strangers on a Train and Some Came Running…

    But I think my favorite amusement park, or amusement ride I guess, scene in any movie would have to be The Third Man.

  7. Movie Man, I must admit that the broaching of THE THIRD MAN, brings immediate excitement, as I rank that as my favorite British film of all time. And yes the amusement park is an unforgettable setting there. I was thinking myself though of one of your other choices, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, where the murder was committed, all seen through the eye glasses on the ground. But SOME CAME RUNNING is an excellent choice too.

    Nice!

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