6.7/10
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20 user 9 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.

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:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Deadly Tower 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 was filmed in downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, using the state capitol building as a stand-in for the tower on the University of Texas, in Austin. The Mississippi River is clearly seen in several shots from the top of the tower. There is no body of water that large close to Austin, where the tower is located. See more »

Quotes

[a receptionist on the top floor sees Charles Whitman exiting the nearby elevator and hauling a large trunk]
Receptionist: Sir? Can I help you. I'm sorry, you can't take that up their without permission!
Charles Joseph Whitman: [points to the door to the nearby security office] Who's in there?
Receptionist: Nobody now, they're at lunch but you still can't take that on the observation deck.
Charles Joseph Whitman: [grabs the receptionist and forces her to the elevator] Listen, you go on down and don't you come back here... not if your life means anything to you!
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Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXI (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

Extremely Entertaining and Intense
25 January 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The Deadly Tower (1975)

*** (out of 4)

Highly entertaining and intense made-for-television movie about Charles Whitman (Kurt Russell), the man who went on a shooting rampage on top a tower in Austin, Texas on August 1st, 1966. The film follows his rampage while at the same time following police officer Ramiro Martinez (Richard Yniguez) as he tries to reach the tower.

THE DEADLY TOWER is without question one of the better made-for-television films from this era where, quite frankly, there were several very good ones. The story of Whitman is probably going to be known by most people going into this film but it does a very good job at showing the horrors of that day as well as showing the intense pressure that was on Martinez as he tried to make it to the tower on his day off of all things.

There's a lot of great things here including the performances from the cast. Russell doesn't have too many lines of dialogue so instead he must "act" with his eyes and he really lets you see a rather sad and pathetic person. I really thought Russell delivered an extremely cold performance that said so much without words. Then you've got Yniguez who is simply wonderful in his role. I won't give away some of the subplots surrounding the character but the actor certainly makes you feel and believe that this was a good guy out there willing to risk his life to save others. Ned Beatty is also good in his supporting role as was John Forsythe.

Director Jerry Jameson does a very good job at holding your interest throughout the 100-minute running time. Even better is the fact that he does an extremely good job at building up the tension during the shooting sections. Mix in the great performances and you've got an extremely good movie on the subject. Those interested in the subject should also check out an unofficial version that Peter Bogdanovich made in TARGETS.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is certainly an original picture, which isn't something that happens too often these days. We've seen movies about strange families before but this one really hits all the right notes.


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