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Shield for Murder

Shield for Murder(1954)

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teaser Shield for Murder (1954)

Crime films adopted a more realistic attitude in the 1950s, shifting away from noir romanticism and acknowledging unsavory realities such as police corruption. One of the best 'bad cop' tales is 1954's Shield for Murder, notable for being co-directed by its star, Edmond O'Brien. The overachieving thriller came from a novel by William P. McGivern (The Big Heat, 1953), who also provided the source stories for Rogue Cop (1954) and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), all of which dealt with crooked lawmen. Detective Nolan (O'Brien) kills a bookie for $25,000 to further his relationship with Patty, the cigarette girl of his dreams (starlet Marla English). Harassed by the mob and a police colleague who he once mentored (John Agar), Nolan commits more cover-up crimes but cannot prevent the truth from coming out. Critics thought the movie effective and saved special praise for actor Emile Meyer as Nolan's captain on the force. The movie made news in Mississippi as well, where the notorious film censor Lloyd T. Binford, called up on tax evasion problems, attempted to deflect the blame to immorality on our screens. He called Shield for Murder 'a burlesque on the City Police Department.' The movie makes a point of having Detective Nolan cornered at the unfinished tract home he hoped to buy for Patty. Nolan's need for consumer success links to later movie cops tempted by dreams of the good life in the suburbs. In Don Siegel's remake of The Killers (1964) Lee Marvin meets his end on a patch of green lawn, and Glenn Ford surrenders to his fate next to a swimming pool he can't afford in the aptly titled The Money Trap (1965).

by Glenn Erickson

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