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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.


Jerry Jameson


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




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


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


TV-14 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


In notes left prior to the incident Whitman requested an autopsy, to see if there was a medical reason for his uncontrolled aggression. Autopsies and post-mortems were performed, and they confirmed he had a congenital brain tumor, that had recently gone from dormant to active, and the tumor could have caused his aggression. See more »


In this set-in-1966 docudrama, various police cars are seen sporting TwinSonic light bars. Such light bars were not introduced by Federal Signal until 1968. See more »


[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!
See more »


Referenced in House: Detox (2005) See more »

User Reviews

Charles Whitman, American psycho
14 August 2005 | by raegan_butcherSee all my reviews

When Charles Whitman did his psycho-sniper act in 1966 it seemed like an unfathomable act of total madness and a one-of a kind nightmarish freak occurrence. Flash forward to the 21st century and see the depressing regularity with which American men nut-up and start killing people.

At the time this played on TV Kurt Russell was known only from his appearances in light-hearted Disney comedies, so it must have been unnervingly effective to see him going off the deep end, sweating and approaching his sleeping mother with a knife clenched in his hand( he never says a word in the film) and then calmly loading up his arsenal for the trip to the bell tower.It is an amazingly dark role and kudos to the producers for casting him against type.

This is a very low-key approach to a fairly hair-raising true story. Kudos all around.

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Release Date:

18 October 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Deadly Tower See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

MGM Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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