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The Sniper

The Sniper(1952)

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Edward Miller, a driver for a dry cleaning company, suffers through the psychological torments of despising women. Surrounded by a carping landlady and shrewish female co-workers, he fantasizes about murdering women, while brandishing an empty rifle. Eddie seeks help from his former physician at the local state prison and becomes distraught when he discovers the doctor is on vacation. In a frantic effort to get help, Eddie purposely burns his hand by placing it on a hotplate. At the hospital the intern, suspicious that the wound was self-inflicted, asks Eddie if he was ever in a mental hospital, and Eddie admits that he was while in prison serving time for assaulting a woman. When the intern consults with a doctor about sending Eddie to the psychiatric ward, the doctor points out that Eddie would be held for only three days and then released. Late for work, Eddie hurries to make a delivery to nightclub singer Jean Darr, who is trying on a low-cut evening gown when he arrives. Jean notices a stain on her gown and asks Eddie if he might do a rush order on it. Eddie agrees and Jean chats pleasantly with him, until a male friend interrupts them. Jean curtly pushes Eddie out the back entrance with the gown. That night, Eddie waits outside of Jean's apartment, carrying his rifle in a small case, and follows her as she walks several blocks to the club at which she performs. Eddie sneaks onto the apartment building rooftop across the street and waits until Jean comes out, then shoots her. Police detectives Lt. Frank Kafka and Sgt. Joe Ferris arrive on the scene and take charge of the investigation. The next day, Eddie flirts with a woman in a bar but although she gives him her address and phone number, Eddie grows angry when she traps him in the lies he has told about his job. Later that day, Eddie takes Jean's gown to his room and hides it, but when he suffers a series of humiliating encounters in the park, he returns to his room, tears the dress and burns it in the incinerator. After staring at the address of the woman from the bar, Eddie rips the top off a box of ammunition and writes a note to the police pleading to be stopped as "he's going to kill again." That afternoon, Eddie follows the woman from the bar and shoots her through the window of her apartment. Kafka meets with Inspector Anderson who, in receipt of the box top, orders a roundup of local sex offenders for a lineup from some witnesses. Psychiatrist Dr. James G. Kent tells Kafka that none of the offenders are guilty and later at a restaurant gives Kafka a profile of the murderer as fulfilling a childhood fantasy of killing a particular woman, such as his mother, over and over. Meanwhile, in town, Eddie notices a television program through the window of a store and becomes fixated on society matron Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who is discussing a charity ball. He makes a mental note of her address as she gives it out for tickets. While going through an extensive list of criminal profiles, Kafka and Ferris come across Eddie's record, which lists his assault on a woman with a baseball bat. Just then a report comes in that Mrs. Fitzpatrick has been shot to death. The police are then summoned to a meeting with the mayor and several of the city's political bosses, who demand the killer be found. Dr. Kent grows frustrated when each of the politicos discuss severe punishment for the killer rather than treatment. At the cleaners, Eddie is nagged again by the receptionist, who wonders why Eddie has not changed the dirty bandage on his hand. Later, a woman's body is found shot to death in a local park, and bullet casings and a dirty bandage are discovered nearby. While Eddie burns off his frustration at a local amusement park, Kafka and Ferris have the bandage analyzed and track it to a hospital. There, despite the fact that Eddie registered under another name, the intern indentifies him from the photo in his criminal file. When the cleaner's receptionist reads the newspaper story about the latest murder, she immediately reports Eddie's hand injury and erratic behavior. Kafka and Ferris wait for Eddie at the cleaners, but he is on a local rooftop desperately tracking lone women. When a painter working high on an opposite building sees Eddie and calls a warning to those below, Eddie kills him and frantically flees for home. The police and curious bystanders surround Eddie's building and Inspector Anderson calls to him on a bullhorn to no avail. Kafka and Ferris shoot their way into Eddie's room, where they find him, petrified, clinging to his rifle.