EL FRANCOTIRADOR aka THE SNIPER ( 1977 ) finds Naschy in a deadly serious drama about a man who wants revenge for the death of his daughter. The bulk of the film takes place in Madrid, during the later years of Franco's dictatorship. The opening scenes reveal how a widowed clockmaker named Lucas loses his young daughter in an accident involving an anti government attack. After a random encounter with Franco himself, Lucas embarks on a plan to kill the General, whom he considers responsible for his daughters death. He goes to Madrid to plan his revenge where he encounters call girl with a heart of gold Blanca Estrada, who falls in love with him ( and get naked half a dozen times J, Ms Estrada has never looked better ). Meanwhile a group of political terrorists discover his plan and want to help him, as long as they can take credit for the assignation. Lucas refuses but is eventually pressured into accepting their offer. The terrorists also prepare a back up plan in case the first attempt fails, setting the stage for the anticipated grim conclusion.
Naschy is excellent as the tortured father mourning his daughter. He appears without hairpiece here, and the natural look suits his character, looking a bit older and worn down than other films from this era. Many scenes are free of dialog and Naschy carries these with a quiet dignity and intensity, all that practice brooding as Waldemar Daninsky really pays off here. The direction by Carlos Puerto is assured and steady, maintaining a slow, somber pace throughout. One strange sequence where Lucas is followed by a car is cut together with shots that end in blackouts, which is just plain strange, but otherwise the film is solid technically. THE SNIPER also avoids violent exploitation, instead focusing on the main character and his overwhelming grief. The real mis-step is Estrada's character, which is pure fantasy in the classic Paul Naschy "I wrote it so I get the girl: mode", but given the amount of exposure she receives here, I'm obliged to give him a pass.
While not up to the high water marks to be set by EL CAMINENTE and FRENCHMAN'S GARDEN in a year or two, EL FRANCOTIRADOR is a well made and grimly depressing drama, with an impressive central performance resulting in one of PN's better non horror outings.
Widescreen, English Fansubs 93 minutes
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