19 user 7 critic

The Deadly Tower (1975)

The infamous story of Charles Whitman, "America's favourite sniper" (in Stephen King's words), is told here once again.



(teleplay), (story) (as Antonio Calderon) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Ramiro Martinez (as Richard Yñiguez)
Lieutenant Lee
Captain Fred Ambrose
Narrator (voice)
C.T. Foss
Tim Davis
Maria Elena Cordero ...
Vinni Martinez (as Maria-Elena Cordero)


Charles Whitman is student at the University of Texas in Austin. He often suffers from headaches, during which he tends to violence. One night, he kills wife and mother, buys a number of rifles and loads of ammunition and takes them to the top of the tower of the university, where he barricades himself. With his long-range weapons his starts to shoot at everything that moves. Already until the police arrives, there are numerous people wounded or dead. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | Thriller


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Release Date:

18 October 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sniper  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Houston McCoy and Ray Martinez, the police officers who shot Whitman, both sued MGM. Martinez sued because he felt he and his family were portrayed in a manner that perpetuated Hispanic stereotypes. His wife wasn't pregnant, and her ethnic background was German-American, not Hispanic-American. A disclaimer at the beginning of the movie reads: "Both the character and personality of Ramiro Martinez' wife and certain scenes about the Martinez family have been fictionalized for dramatic effect." See more »


Police Officers Houston McCoy and Ray Martinez both shot Whitman during the final confrontation. The autopsy credited McCoy with firing the fatal shot, but he was not included in the movie. See more »


Lieutenant Elwood Forbes: Sorry to bother you, but I understand you told one of my men earlier about a guy in here buying guns and ammo. Could you tell me what he looked like?
Gun Shop Owner: Like I told the officer on the phone, I don't pay attention to how my customers look.
Lieutenant Elwood Forbes: Can't you try to remember?
Gun Shop Owner: Well, he was a big man. Short hair, nice looking.
Lieutenant Elwood Forbes: Did you know him? Have you ever seen him in here before?
Gun Shop Owner: Like I told the officer who called, I don't pay attention to how my customers look.
Lieutenant Elwood Forbes: Don't you think it's strange? A man walks in ...
See more »


Referenced in Drawn Together: Dirty Pranking Number 2 (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Very intense movie indeed
12 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this movie when it first aired in October 1975. NBC ran a viewer advisory that it was very intense and may affect sensitive viewers. Yes, indeed! Whitman was one demented person and the casting of All-American Disney actor Kurt Russell to play him was incredible...it showed Russell could do heavy stuff. The casting of journeyman Latino actor Richard Yniguez to play Officer Martinez was also great. The supporting cast (Ned Beatty, John Forsythe, Pernell Roberts, etc.) was also excellent. It was interesting to see Mr. Forsythe as a detective investigating the gun stores-a far cry from Bentley Gregg or Blake Carrington. This was also Pernell Roberts' first time on TV in a while playing Martinez' sergeant. Part of the intensity of the movie came from the fact that Whitman shot at anyone or anything that moved and any attempt to take him out (shooting from a plane or citizens shooting with their hunting rifles) only agitated him. The bookstore clerk guiding Martinez and his fellow officers into the tower showed true heroism. I was in college in California when this movie first aired and I mentioned to my father that my college's library had an observation/study deck that somebody could use for such an act! In fact the college security department worked out a plan in case of somebody doing this. Thank goodness nobody tried this. Back to the movie...it was presented from Martinez' point of view and some have said there is a Latino bias, but I say it is a very intense depiction of true heroism. 43 years have passed since that tragic day. One would hope it would never happen again anywhere, but it does (Fort Hood, San Ysidro, Orlando, to name a few).

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