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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.

Director:

Jerry Jameson

Writers:

William Douglas Lansford (teleplay), Antonio Calderón (story) (as Antonio Calderon) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Kurt Russell ... Charles Whitman
Richard Yniguez ... Ramiro Martinez (as Richard Yñiguez)
Ned Beatty ... Allan Crum
Pernell Roberts ... Lieutenant Lee
Clifton James ... Captain Fred Ambrose
John Forsythe ... Lt. Elwood Forbes
Gilbert Roland ... Narrator (voice)
Paul Carr ... C.T. Foss
Alan Vint ... Tim Davis
Maria Elena Cordero Maria Elena Cordero ... Vinni Martinez (as Maria-Elena Cordero)
Pepe Serna ... Mano
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Storyline

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

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sniper See more »

Filming Locations:

Austin Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

MGM Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The movie is set in 1966, but features clothes and cars from the 1970s. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Scenic Highway (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Texas sniper on the rampage!
6 April 2008 | by The_VoidSee 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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