The Sniper is an excellent fifties film noir that would benefit from the option of removing the bombastic, lousy musical score that gets in the way of a modern audience’s enjoyment of this original thriller. This is one of five thrillers in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume 1 5 DVD set. Watching The Sniper, it is obvious it was not there as filler. This is a very good film noir about a psychopathic killer.
Many film noir do not age well but aside from the musical score this is not the case here. The Sniper benefits from being filmed on location in San Francisco and the excellent performance of Arthur Franz as Eddie Miller. What puts this film noir a notch above most is Eddie Miller is not your usual silver screen nut job. Eddie knows there is something wrong with him and tries to stop himself but he falls through the cracks in the system. He is also a complex character, as some scenes reveal.
The Sniper opens with a man with a rifle targeting someone. Turns out the rifle is empty. He then burns his shooting hand on a hotplate. Eddie is a single guy whose luck with women is not very good. He is also slightly deranged, as is hinted by the mention of a stay in a psychiatric ward during the war. His first killing is standard issue stuff when it comes to movies like this one. The second is much more interesting cinematically speaking.
Adolphe Menjou plays Detective Frank Kafka (yeah) who has to crack the case. He is assisted by one of the first film noir forensic psychologists (Richard Kiley).
Other films in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics Volume 1 5 DVD set are The Big Heat, a Fritz Lang thriller with Glenn Ford, 5 Against the House, Murder By Contract, and The Lineup. This is a great deal if you like fifties mystery movies.