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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

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to the book "Suicide by cop", Houston felt that Whitman could have shot him and Martinez, but he didn't because he was waiting for them to shoot him. See more »


Most of the police vehicles seen are mid-1970s Ford Torino sedans - Austin Police Department vehicles of the late 1960s would be a full-sized Dodge or Plymouth. 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

Texas sniper on the rampage!
6 April 2008 | by See all my reviews

The Deadly Tower is yet another example of an excellent seventies made for TV movie. This film is the first to be based on the real life Texas Sniper Charles Joseph Whitman who killed a series of people during a tower top sniper rifle rampage in Texas in 1966. The movie is clearly a TV movie as it all looks very cheap and there's nothing particularly all that special about it; but in spite of that, director Jerry Jameson has taken a harrowing story and made a film that entertains the viewer as well as providing food for thought and ensuring that the reaction of the killer's actions come through also. The film sticks to the facts well and as such the story is very simple. We focus on Charles Joseph Whitman, a troubled young man who one day decides to kill his mother and his wife before going to the gun shop, buying "enough guns to start world war 3" and taking them to the top of a university tower in order to blow away a load of people around the campus. The is mixed in with the story of police officer Ramiro Martinez as he tries to stop the killer.

In a way, it's a shame that this movie was made for TV because the sniper plot could have given the film a lot of room for plenty of gory special effects; which unfortunately don't feature due to the TV restraints. However, on the other hand; out of respect for the victims and their families, this may be a good thing. The film is notable for featuring an early performance from the great Kurt Russell. Russell doesn't deliver a performance here that is up there with his best; but the script doesn't really allow for that, and he certainly does convince as the cold and murderous lead character. The main bulk of the movie focuses on the killer and the film features some effective shots detailing the sniper's actions against the local community, but the director also includes some meatier topics. The effect of the victims' deaths features somewhat and the film also makes a point against America's liberal gun laws; although both of these could have been more defined and better focused. Even so, The Deadly Tower is certainly a very notable seventies TV and is well worth seeing if you can find it.

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