Shield for Murder


1h 20m 1954
Shield for Murder

Brief Synopsis

A crooked detective masterminds a robbery then fights to keep his money.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Release Date
Sep 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Aug 1954
Production Company
Schenck-Koch Productions
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Shield for Murder by William P. McGivern (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Police detective Barney Nolan accosts a bookmaker, takes him into an alley and shoots him. Barney then robs the body of $25,000, removes the silencer from his gun, shouts a warning and fires two shots into the air to make it appear that he has shot a fleeing suspect. Barney is unaware the entire episode has been witnessed by a man in an adjacent building. When Sgt. Mark Brewster, the officer assigned to investigate the incident, asks Barney, who was his mentor, why he killed the man Barney answers that it was an accident. Capt. Gunnarson, the new precinct commander, concerned that Barney had previously been involved in two other killings, warns him to use better judgment. Barney then goes to meet his girl friend, Patty Winters, at the nightclub where she works. Becoming enraged when he sees the revealing costume she is wearing for her new job as a cigarette girl, Barney hits the club's owner and then leaves with Patty. Meanwhile, two private detectives, Fat Michaels and Laddie O'Neil, in the employ of gangster Packy Reed, visit Mark and tell him that the bookmaker was carrying $25,000 of Reed's money when he was killed. When Mark says that the police found only around $300 on the body, Michaels and O'Neil remind him that Barney was at the crime scene before he was. Cabot, a crime reporter with a low opinion of Barney, agrees not to write about the situation until Mark can investigate. After Barney tells Patty that his financial situation is improving, he takes her to see a model furnished house in a new estate. While Patty looks over the house, Barney quickly hides the cash in the backyard. Later, Mark tells Patty about Barney's situation and confides that he is concerned about Barney's hardened behavior. The next day, as an assistant district attorney begins to interview Barney, Ernst Sternmueller, the deaf-mute who witnessed the killing, comes to the office and hands the district attorney a note indicating he saw the entire incident. The district attorney shows the note to Barney, whom Ernst fails to recognize. After reading the message, Barney hands the mute a written reply stating that someone will come to interview him later. That night, as Ernst completes a written account of the incident, admitting that he could not see the killer's face, he receives a visit from Barney. When Barney looks out the window to the alley, turning his back to Ernst, Ernst recognizes Barney as the killer. When Barney tries to offer Ernst a bribe, he becomes frustrated because Ernst cannot hear him, and pushes him away. Losing his balance, Ernst falls against the bed frame and is fatally injured. Barney then tries to make Ernst's death look like an accident by pushing his body down a flight of stairs. Later, Barney summons Michaels and O'Neil to a bar, then beats them brutally with his revolver in front of horrified customers. Meanwhile, Mark investigates Ernst's death and discovers his written statement. When Barney returns home, he finds Mark waiting to arrest him for the bookmaker's murder. After Barney implicates himself in Ernst's death, Mark draws his gun, but Barney knocks it out of his hand and considers killing Mark, but cannot bring himself to do it. Instead, he knocks Mark out and leaves. Barney then goes to Patty's, awakens her and tells her they are leaving immediately. Patty, who suspects that the money Barney mentioned actually belongs to Reed, begs him to stay and let Mark help him straighten things out. Angered that Patty has been talking with Mark, Barney slaps her, then shocked by his violence, leaves. After Mark recovers and delivers his report to Gunnarson, the captain orders Barney's arrest and gives Cabot permision to print the story. When Barney learns that he is a wanted man, he disguises himself by donning a police patrolman's uniform, then arranges with a criminal named Manning to be smuggled out of the country. Barney agrees to hand over Manning's fee at a high school locker room later that night. When Patty tells Mark about her visit to the model home, he suspects that Barney hid the money there. At the locker room, after Barney delivers an envelope of cash to Manning's messenger, a heavily bandaged Michaels appears, draws his gun and tells the messenger to check the envelope. The "money" turns out to be cut-up newspaper. Michaels then chases Barney through the gym to a swimming pool. In the ensuing gunfight, Barney kills Michaels then drives to the house, where he is met by numerous police units blocking the streets. After shooting an officer, Barney runs to the house and retrieves the cash, but is surrounded by police. When he begins to fire at the officers, they respond with a hail of bullets, killing him.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Release Date
Sep 1954
Premiere Information
New York opening: 27 Aug 1954
Production Company
Schenck-Koch Productions
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Shield for Murder by William P. McGivern (New York, 1951).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

Shield for Murder


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
Shield For Murder

Shield for Murder

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

TCM Remembers - John Agar


TCM REMEMBERS JOHN AGAR, 1921-2002

Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.

Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.

Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.

By Lang Thompson

DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002

Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.

Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)

Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.

However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.

By Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers - John Agar

TCM REMEMBERS JOHN AGAR, 1921-2002 Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph. Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract. Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed. By Lang Thompson DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002 Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall. Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.) Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win. However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A Variety news item of April 23, 1952 reported that Aubrey Schenck intended to produce Shield for Murder with Dana Andrews in the leading role. A December 10, 1953 Daily Variety news item stated that Schenck and Howard W. Koch would produce the film in January 1954. A Los Angeles Times report of April 22, 1954 indicated that production would begin in May with Edmond O'Brien functioning as male lead and "production adviser." O'Brien was later announced as co-director, and this was his first film as director. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Robert Bray to the cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter charts also list Everett Dodd as film editor, but only John F. Schreyer is credited onscreen. Two other films released in the same year, Private Hell 36 and Rogue Cop, also deal with corrupt policemen.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 1954

Released in United States Fall September 1954