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The Glass Shield (1994)

PG-13  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  2 June 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 2,677 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 19 critic

J.J. is a rookie in the Sheriff's Department and the first black officer at that station. Racial tensions run high in the department as some of J.J.'s fellow officers resent his presence. ... See full summary »



, (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Thomas Babson ...
Ernie Lee Banks ...
Jean Hubbard-Boone ...
James Boyce ...
Paramedic #1
Gaye Shannon-Burnett ...
Linden Chiles ...
Janet Claire ...
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J.J. is a rookie in the Sheriff's Department and the first black officer at that station. Racial tensions run high in the department as some of J.J.'s fellow officers resent his presence. His only real friend is the other new trooper, the first female officer to work there, who also suffers similar discrimination in the otherwise all-white-male work environment. When J.J. becomes increasingly aware of police corruption during the murder trial of Teddy Woods, who he helped to arrest, he faces difficult decisions and puts himself into grave personal danger in the service of justice. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In a world filled with violence... his only weapon is the truth!


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for intense dramatic material | See all certifications »





Release Date:

2 June 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Auf Ehre und Gewissen  »

Box Office


$3,313,633 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The comic book sequence at the opening of the film was illustrated by Grant Shaffer. See more »


At the beginning of the film Johnson's training officer, Chuck Gilmore, gets upset with him for not ticketing the woman in the red convertible for speeding and Gilmore decides to take over the wheel himself. Immediately after that we see their car chasing the red convertible again with a brief shot during the chase of Gilmore sitting in the passenger seat. See more »


Referenced in Love and Death on Long Island (1997) See more »


Em Yeu Anh
Performed by Mary Lou Taylor
Music and Lyrics by Stephen James Taylor, BMI
See more »

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User Reviews

Tiptoes Around an Interesting Question.
15 June 2004 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The movie itself isn't very good. It moves slowly and is badly photographed. The lighting makes too much use of neon blue, a popular fad around the time this appeared.

The acting is okay, though, except for Ice Cube, who cannot seem to act. The score is routine. The script has two good things going for it.

One is that the cops, though authoritarian in manner and attitude, are humanized without being sentimentalized. I'll give an example of what I mean by this. One scene, between Walsh and Ironsides, reveals to us and to Ironsides, that Walsh's cancer which had been though to be in remission has now metastasized and he's dying. Nothing much is made of the scene. Nobody breaks into tears. And Ironsides doesn't offer any false hope or, indeed try to comfort his friend in any way. He simply sits there and listens while Walsh, again without going into it, quietly talks about how he'd like to leave his family with a little something. The script and the director handle Walsh's death scene in the same understated way. Walsh's comrades try to revive him and finally give up. None of the assembled cops says anything. Cops wouldn't. But they are clearly moved by the passing of their friend. That's what I mean by "humanizing" them without "sentimentalizing" them.

The second interesting thing about the film is that it dips a toe into some curious and seldom-dealt-with sociological waters. It brings up the question of primary allegiances. That is, to whom do we owe our main loyalty? Which group are we willing to make the most sacrifices for? Some groups are far more demanding of us than others. I may not care much about being a mailman, for instance, but I care an awful lot about being, say, an African-American mailman. Most ethnic groups are surrounded by clear social borders -- you're either one of us or you are not one of us. The same is true for some other groups -- doctors, airline pilots, U. S. Marines, and stunt men, to mention a few examples that I'm familiar with. Cops demand that kind of loyalty too.

And here we have two "minority" members who find themselves working for the Sheriff's Office. Boatman is black and is a cop. Lori Petty is a woman (and a Jew, I think) and is a cop too. Which allegiance takes priority -- the allegiance to the minority group or to one's comrades on the police force? What happens when loyalties come into conflict?

The film brings the question up but soon dumps it. Both rookies try to show their loyalty to their partners by hiding mistakes and so forth, but then they quickly return to the politically correct corners. Boatman realizes that he is black before he is blue. And why not? There's not a bad African-American to be seen. Petty undergoes a similar transformation.

It's kind of a cheap way out. We can all feel satisfied now that our true identities have been found and all the corrupt and dissembling cops have been cleaned out. Sure.

I wouldn't recommend this, really. The missed opportunities are wincingly obvious. It's rather overlong, too, and the story resembles "Serpico." Even the title is second-hand. "The Glass Shield." It sounds like a variation on the pop culture phrase, "the glass ceiling," suggesting that the female cop, Lori Petty, will run into prejudices. (She does, but that has nothing to do with the plot.) The title also references other paradoxical titles like "Steel Magnolias," "Iron Butterfly," "Led Zeppelin," "Limp Biskit", "The Glass Key." If it took more than five seconds to arrive at the title, the writers didn't deserve their paycheck.

4 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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