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The Deadly Tower

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The Deadly Tower (1975)

The Deadly Tower was a 1975 television film that dramatized the events surrounding the shooting spree committed by Charles Whitman from the Tower of the University of Texas in 1966. The cast included Richard Yniguez, Ned Beatty, and a young Kurt Russell as Whitman. The film featured one of Russell's first "adult" roles, the polar opposite of the family friendly roles in such films as The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes that made him a star in his teenage years. The film ran afoul of facts however, leading to lawsuits from both Officer Ramiro Martinez and Officer Houston McCoy, who in real life had been the one to kill Whitman. Martinez objected to the characterization of his wife, and received an out of court settlement. McCoy got nothing, as he had not allowed his name to be used at all, and thus his case was thrown out. Since the city of Austin and the University of Texas were reluctant to revisit the events of the massacre, filming was done in Baton Rouge, with the Louisiana State Capitol building standing in for the UT Main Building.

The following weapons were used in the film The Deadly Tower:

Rifles / Carbines

Sporterized Arisaka Type 2 Paratrooper Takedown Rifle

Charles Whitman (Kurt Russell) starts his rampage with a Sporterized Arisaka Type 02 paratrooper takedown rifle. It is equipped with a Monte Carlo stock, a scope and an altered bolt handle. This stands in for the 6mm Remington 700 Whitman used in reality.

Arisaka Type 02 Paratrooper Takedown rifle - 7.7x58mm. This is the base rifle for the sporterized take down rifle.
Whitman takes aim. Notice the shape of the bolt.
DT arisaka 02.jpg
A close-up of the receiver as Whitman reloads.

M1 Carbine

Whitman switches to an M1 Carbine later on. Earlier in the film, he is shown buying it, six magazines, and 600 rounds of ammunition.

M1 Carbine (Post-War) - .30 Carbine
DT M1 01.jpg
DT M1 02.jpg
Whitman reloads. Notice that some of his magazines are "jungle-clipped" together.
Whitman reloads an M1 magazine.

Remington Model 760

One of the most common rifles in the movie is the Remington Model 760 pump action rifle. Whitman has one in his arsenal, a substitute for the Remington Model 14 in .35 Remington he had in real life, but is never shown using it. It is the only weapon shown used by Lieutenant Lee (Pernell Roberts) and Allan Crum (Ned Beatty). Various policemen and armed citizens are shown using it throughout the film as well.

Remington 760 - first introduced in 1952
Lt. Lee tries shooting Whitman from an airplane.
DT 760 02.jpg
Allan Crum and Martinez as they get to the observation deck.
A close-up of the receiver as Crum covers Martinez.

Winchester Model 1873

Some armed citizens are shown shooting back with Winchester Model 1873 rifles.

Winchester Model 1873 carbine - 1st generation rifle - 44-40 Cal.
An armed citizen returns fire.

Remington Model 700

Some armed citizens are shown shooting back with Remington Model 700 rifles.

Remington Model 700 (1970s Production) - .308 Winchester
An armed citizen returns fire.


Smith & Wesson Model 19

Officer Ramiro Martinez (Richard Yniguez) is armed with a Smith & Wesson Model 19 as his service weapon. In the film, as in real life, he empties his revolver into Whitman, but the film ignores the fact that officially, Whitman didn't die until he was shot in the head with a shotgun by Officer Houston McCoy. Whitman also has a Model 19 in his arsenal, but doesn't use it.

Smith & Wesson Model 19 'Combat Magnum' - .357 Magnum
Martinez about to open the door to the observation deck.
A shot of the business end of the S&W 19.
Martinez cautiously advancing.

Luger P08

Whitman is show loading a Luger P08 pistol. He tucks it into his waistband when he knows the end is near, but never draws it.

Luger P08 - 9x19mm. This is blank adapted movie gun.
Whitman loads his Luger.


Sawed-off Shotgun

Whitman buys and cuts down a double barreled shotgun prior to his rampage. In real life, Whitman's sawed-off shotgun was an automatic shotgun, described in the police report as a "Sears 12 gauge 2.75 chamber automatic shotgun."

Stoeger/IGA Coach imported side by side shotgun - 12 Gauge
Whitman cuts down his shotgun.
In the official police report, he cut down the stock as well, but doesn't do so in this movie.
Whitman loads the shotgun when he knows the end is near.

Ithaca 37

Various policemen and civilians, including Officer C.T. Foss (Paul Carr), are shown with Ithaca 37 shotguns. Foss is in the film in place of Officer Houston McCoy, who refused to allow his name to be used. Foss is shown freezing upon seeing Whitman and not firing at all, while in reality, McCoy is officially credited with firing the shots that killed Whitman.

Ithaca Model 37 riot version - 12 Gauge
Foss meets Crum below the tower.
Foss in the lobby of the tower.
Another officer with an Ithaca 37 leads Martinez away after it's all over.

Mossberg 500

A policeman is shown armed with a Mossberg 500 with an extended magazine.

Mossberg 500 with high-capacity magazine tube - 12 Gauge
DT M500 01.jpg

Whitman's arsenal

Other guns in Whitman's arsenal include the aforementioned Remington Model 760 and an Astra 400. The real Whitman had a Remington Model 14 and a 6.35mm Galesi-Brescia pistol, respectively

Whitman's arsenal laid out on his bed. His three pistols are visible.
His arsenal in his USMC footlocker. His Arisaka is shown disassembled.
His arsenal ready for use.


Understandably, the city of Austin and the University of Texas refused to assist in the filming, as less than a decade had passed since the actual massacre. In lieu of the UT Main Building, filmmakers used the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, which resembled the UT tower.

Once you get aerial shots, however, it's clear that this is not Austin. The UT tower is surrounded by a campus, not warehouses, and is not by the river.
DT Austin 02.jpg

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