Shield for Murder is a film noir from 1954 starring and co-directed by Edmond O’Brien. The other director is Howard W. Koch, his first film in the director’s chair. This film is based on the book by the same name, written by William P. McGivern.
Edmond O’Brien plays Barney, a crooked cop with a temper. The film starts with him following a man holding money for a local bookie. Barney drags him into the alley and shoots him. then Barney takes $25,000 off of him, and shoots a few bullets into the air. This was to make it look like Barney shot the dead man trying to escape arrest. Unbeknownst to Barney, a man in a second story apartment witnessed the whole crime. The witness is deaf and dumb to add an extra twist.
Barney’s girlfriend, Patty is played by Marla English. John Agar plays a young detective who looks up to Barney, but suspects something is wrong about the shooting involving Barney.
Will Barney get away with stealing $25,000 and murder? Will the local bookie track him down and teach the crooked cop a lesson?
Edmond O’Brien’s Barney is the most brutal and evil protagonist I have ever seen in a classic film noir. He only shows mercy or any kind of remorse once in the whole film.
This is a very good B-film noir. This is worth watching just for Edmond O’Brien’s performance. The interesting thing about Barney is that he has very little to no likable qualities. I don’t know if I would call him an anti-hero, but more of a villain who is the main character. Watch for the scene where Barney is eating spaghetti with a girl he has picked up at the bar for one of the most violent scenes I have ever witnessed in a classic film noir.