The Film (3.5/5)
Shield for Murder is a crime thriller about a detective who kills a man, steals his money, and trys to get away with using his friend and the police as his ‘shield’, basically. The movie reminded of things that are actually happening currently in our society. Cops that either are too brutal toward civilians, or just shooting people in situations that were not necessary ; the only difference is that this movie is missing protesters who undoubtedly would be protesting if this happened today, which it has. Edmund O’Brien plays corrupt Detective Barney Nolan in Shield for Murder. Nolan shoots a man to death who is carrying $25,000. He takes the money for himself so he can buy a house for himself and his girl Patty Winters (the sexy Marla English from The She Creature) and live in luxury. Apparently, $25,000 went a long way in the 1950s
Unbeknownst to Detective Nolan, a deaf mute witnessed his murdering the man who was carrying the $25,000. The deaf mute writes to the police about it. Having seen the letter and address, Nolan pays the deaf mute a visit, and murders him too. Nolan’s colleague and friend, Detective, Sgt. Mark Brewster (John Agar from Journey to the Seventh Planet) has to investigate the murders and locate the missing money. Detective Nolan is (rightfully) under suspicion, and soon Sgt. Brewster learns the truth, that it was indeed Nolan behind the killings. Poor Brewster gets attacked by Nolan when he tries to turn him in.
This is a great film that moves at a feverish pace. There is an unforgettable dinner scene at a restaurant where all of the customers are eating spaghetti, witness Nolan brutally assaulting, two investigators on the crime scene that he committed (one of them is Claude Akins from BJ and the Bear!) Edmund O’Brien, who usually plays the hero in the majority of his films, plays an absolute vicious heel in this movie, dare I say a ‘maniac cop’. Nolan would fit in perfectly well with law enforcement officers that have brutally attacked people. He is so vicious that he even shoves around his friends and his girl Patty, even slapping her. He’s basically lost his mind from doing the kind of work he has been doing for so many years. This to me was his best performance outside of his other all-time classic Noir, DOA that he stared in. O’brien easily outperforms the rest of the cast with his over the top role as Detective Nolan. John Agar seemed to be in a daze in this movie; as if he saw his future was going to be in sci-fi B movies fighting Brains from Planet Arous and Cursed Swamp Creatures for most of his career. Marla English as Patty Winters, wasn’t bad in the movie, at least to look at, but she was not very effective as the love interest, especially during this period where women had an edge to them, and were just as sly, cunning and even as sleazy as the men.
Kino Lorber brings Shield for Murder out of the MGM graveyard of unreleased Film Noir, and results are very good. It is presented in widescreen, 1:78:1, with an all new 1080p transfer, and an MPEG 4 AVC encode. Excellent contrast and greyscale, great detail and film grain is very present. There are a couple of minor somewhat blurry or soft scenes but overall this is very pleasing to watch in HD. Look for some very detailed close-ups of O’brien and his sweaty face.
The audio for Shield for Murder is what Kino Lorber uses for 99% of their releases, which is DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0. The dialog and other sounds such as gunfire, dramatic music is just fine.
There isn’t much in the way of extras, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We do get trailers for the following movies: Shield for Murder, Hidden Fear, 99 River Street, and He Ran All The Way
Shield for Murder, just like 99 River Street from a year earlier, and also released by Kino Lorber is another pretty gritty, in your face hard hitting thriller that doesn’t stop until the word “The End” appear on the screen. Edward O’Brien makes this picture something more than run of the mill. This is highly entertaining, and with satisfactory picture and audio quality, I can easily recommend this release.