The Deadly Tower
Official VHS cover
Written byWilliam Douglas Lansford
Directed byJerry Jameson
Music byDon Ellis
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producerRichard Caffey
ProducerAntonio Calderón
Production locations
CinematographyMatthew F. Leonetti
EditorTom Stevens
Running time95 minutes
Production companyMGM Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • October 18, 1975 (1975-10-18)

The Deadly Tower (also known as Sniper) is a 1975 American made-for-television action drama thriller film directed by Jerry Jameson. It stars Kurt Russell and Richard Yniguez[1] and is based on the University of Texas tower shooting.


The film is based on the true story of Charles Joseph Whitman, an engineering student and former Marine who murdered his own wife and mother and then killed 14 more people and wounded 31 others in a shooting rampage at the University of Texas at Austin on the afternoon of August 1, 1966.



The film was produced by Antonino Calderon, who was head of Image, an organization dedicated to providing more positive screen depictions of Mexican Americans. He met with Robert Howard, president of the NBC network and asked if he could make a film about an actual Chicano hero. Howard agreed. Calderon pitched several stories and Howard agreed to finance The Deadly Tower as it was about a Chicano police officer, Martinez. MGM were commissioned to make the movie with Calderon as producer, Richard Caffey as executive producer and David Goldsmith as production executive.[2]

The Deadly Tower was filmed at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana because the University of Texas refused to allow filming there.[2]



In 1990, Houston McCoy, one of two policemen who took part in killing Whitman, sued Turner Broadcasting System (which held the ownership of most of MGM's pre-1986 works) for $14 million for emotional distress and damage to his reputation, claiming the film caused him to become an alcoholic and lose self-respect by depicting him as a coward. Martinez, the other police officer, said he sued the producers of the movie in 1975 ″because there was so much in the movie that was untruthful.″ That lawsuit was settled out of court.[3]


Critical response

The Los Angeles Times called the film "highly effective" but wondered "no matter how well done is there any reason to relive that bloody moment of history."[2]


  1. ^ "Sniper (1975)". AllMovie.
  2. ^ a b c 'Deadly Tower' at Texas U.: CECIL SMITH Death Tower on a Campus Smith, Cecil. Los Angeles Times 17 Oct 1975: h1.
  3. ^ "Former Police Officer Sues Over Tower Sniper Movie". AP News. November 30, 1990.