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Shoot First (1953)

Rough Shoot (original title)
Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Thriller | 15 May 1953 (USA)
U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Robert Taine and his wife Cecily live in a village in England. While hunting on some land he has recently purchased, he shoots a load of buckshot at a man he thinks is... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Denis Lehrer ...
Marius Goring ...
Karel Stepanek ...
Powys Thomas ...
Ambulance Driver
Robert Dickens ...
Megs Jenkins ...
Mrs. Powell
Ellis Irving ...
Cyril Raymond ...
Roland Culver ...


U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Robert Taine and his wife Cecily live in a village in England. While hunting on some land he has recently purchased, he shoots a load of buckshot at a man he thinks is a poacher but, upon examination, he discovers the man is dead and believes,at first, he has killed him. With the police and the Secret Service chasing him, he trails a suspect to London and this leads him to an espionage gang. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


RAW! RUGGED! RELENTLESS! (original ad - all caps) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shoot First  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Joel McCrea thinks he's killed a man, but soon spies invade his turf
15 July 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Shoot First" is a Brit noir that weaves together a spy story with a story of McCrea thinking that he's killed a man.

I like this film and watch it again every so often, even though it's not a fantastic picture by any means. It has a number of things going for it. First off, Joel McCrea is a likable actor who makes you feel he's your friend, and so he generates sympathy. The story makes sure of that because at the outset we in the audience know that a German agent (Marius Goring) has executed someone by rifle and that McCrea's shotgun didn't do the man in. This occurs in England on McCrea's "shoot" which is land he has rented for hunting.

Then there are a good many scenes out of doors on the shoot and at night (with noir lighting). These add a realistic feel that Brit noirs often have by using exteriors well, but usually in cities.

There is also Evelyn Keyes playing McCrea's wife. Ms. Keyes has a scene-stealing style of acting that is unique. You always are wondering if she is going to break down at any instant and go out of character. She has the most amazing set of quirky mannerisms that she does with her mouth, voice, eyes, face and movements, and she combines that with phrasing that is unpredictable. You wonder if she will have the breath to finish off a sentence as her intonation dips and swoons. She's also aware of her beauty and body and uses them to add to her presence. The net result is wonderment at her unconventional style and delivery. She's memorable in the same way that Bette Davis is often memorable, by an exhibition that somehow is still real enough not to seem over the top. In attempting to describe the impression she makes, I feel I've perhaps overdone it and made her sound grotesque. Far from it. But she certainly is a character in any role she plays. Examples include 99 River Street, The Killer That Stalked New York, The Prowler and Hell's Half Acre. She was one heck of an actress and fascinating to watch on the screen.

Almost any movie with Marius Goring I find watchable. He chose his parts well, as they were within good scripts.

Not only that we have Herbert Lom playing a Polish anti-Nazi intelligence operative. With an unassuming leading man like McCrea, he makes all the character actors look good, but there was no point in even trying to outdo Lom. Lom's boss is Roland Culver, an outstanding character actor whose face, if not name, are recognizable for viewers of British films. Here he makes for an urbane and well-dressed intelligence man. His career ran from 1931 to 1983! Karel Stepanek is also on hand as one of the German spies.

After awhile there is a Macguffin, a booby-trapped briefcase filled with secrets transported by a scientist. It really doesn't matter that much. The plot has impersonations and ends with the obligatory chase, first through Madame Tussaud's wax museum and then upwards as British chases of this era tend to go. Hitchcock led the way up in his 1929 "Blackmail".

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