14 September 2009 | blanche-2
'50s B noir
Edmond O'Brien has a "Shield for Murder" in this 1954 noir also starring Marla English, John Agar, and Carolyn Jones. O'Brien plays a bad cop - one review here said he was a good cop who gave into temptation. Not so. He was a bad cop, who had been suspected of trouble in the past but never caught.
In the beginning of the film, Barney (O'Brien), a detective, kills a bookie and steals the $25,000 that the victim is carrying. He claims that he killed in self defense, and his story is accepted. Then the fact that the bookie was carrying money, now missing, emerges. What Barney doesn't know at first is that there is a witness, a deaf and dumb man, who saw the whole thing.
Barney is a person of great interest to the bookie's boss, and also, a young man he helped bring up in the force (John Agar), his staunchist defender against criticism, is anxious to clear him. Barney, meanwhile, wants to purchase a dream house for him and his girlfriend (English) and get married. When he finds out about the witness, he needs to do some fast work.
O'Brien gives a very hard-edged performance. His character is completely unlikable. The very pretty Marla English unfortunately was unable to act. In one scene, however, Barney goes into a bar and meets a platinum blonde, who turns out to be actress Carolyn Jones, normally known for her stylish short black haircut.
Pretty brutal for the '50s. O'Brien elevates the material. Interesting noir, co-directed by Howard Koch and O'Brien.