David Wilentz writes:
Shield for Murder predates Touch of Evil with its gloomy tale of police corruption. Edmund O’Brien stars as a brooding police detective consumed by greed. In a chilling set piece O’Brien corners a drug runner, shoots him dead, takes twenty five grand off the corpse and then yells ‘Stop or I’ll shoot’. He plans to buy a tract home for he and his girl: the classic American dream.
O’Brien, slightly overweight and out of shape, plays his good cop gone bad with a desperate, edgy fervor. He’s quick to lose his temper and doesn’t hesitate to threaten or pistol-whip anyone that gets in his way, allowing for some startling moments of violence. This is a dark tour-de-force for O’Brien, who also co-directed with Howard Koch. John Agar, on the other hand, is typically wooden as O’Brien’s suspicious protégée, while female lead Marla English is pouty and disposable. Of course, O’Brien ends up slapping her around. Carolyn Jones stands out with a brief but welcome appearance as a peroxide floozy.
This is the sort of true crime tale that marked a shift away from the more expressionistically existential noirs of the ‘40s. Content moved towards a ‘50s post-industrial cynicism. A nice touch has O’Brien donning his old uniform as a disguise after his villainy has been exposed, only to engage in a shootout with other cops, raising some way-noir issues about a cherished ‘50’s institution.
2.26GB | 1 h 22 min | 1024×576 | mkv