Review of The Sniper (1952)

Moving picture, 88 minutes

Seen in 2019.

Lt. Frank Kafka chases a disturbed misogynistic killer who wants to be found.

A steady piece of thriller craftsmanship. Richard Kiley, looking quite a bit like Nicholas Cage, plays a psychologist who advocates placing any criminal lunatics in state care pretty much forever, or until they’re cured, whichever comes first. The script supports him by author fiat; thankfully the ending is peaceful. The question of how to pay for mass institutionalization is raised and never answered.

I like the rather pat interpretation that the killer’s guilt and anxiety reflect those of the director, who’d recently testified against 25 “reds” in front of HUAC. The killer lives near Coit Tower and though the city is never named, the steeply angled streets of what is obviously San Francisco remind me of the unreal sets of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

References here: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).

moving picture fiction