Here, the cop gone sour isn't a homicidal brute like Edmond O'Brien in the same year's Shield For Murder (both movies were adapted from books by William McGivern, as was Fritz Lang's The Big Heat). He's dapper, laid-back Robert Taylor, known by his `brothers' on the force to be on the take but given a wide berth despite it (it's the thin blue line's equivalent of omertà).
When his younger brother Steve Forrest, also a policeman, identifies a connected hit-man, Taylor receives a summons from his paymaster, crime boss George Raft. Either Forrest recants his testimony, in return for a $15-grand payoff, or he'll be killed (the accused knows too much and might sing if convicted). Upon delivering the ultimatum, Taylor gets rebuffed by Forrest; he then tries to blackmail his brother's fiancée Janet Leigh, a nightclub singer, into trying to change his mind. Taylor doesn't really want Forrest to go bad, he just doesn't want him dead.
But Raft plays tougher than Taylor imagines. Lulling Taylor into thinking he still has time, Raft has Forrest shot in the back. And so the worm turns: Using both Leigh and Raft's discarded moll Anne Francis as his allies, Taylor swears vengeance....
Crisply photographed by John Seitz, Rogue Cop burrows snugly into its rotten urban core a city of dreadful night. With its large and aptly chosen cast, it nonetheless rests squarely on the shoulders of its central character, Taylor, who comes through with the performance of his career. At age 42, he passes muster as a burnt-out cop who's sold out for easy money in this urban jungle, corruption is just another perk passed up only by fools -- but still has the wits and the will to spring a few surprises when cornered.
There's plenty of brutal, even sadistic, action, but Rogue Cop is less an action picture than a character study that Taylor, somewhat surprisingly, manages to pull off. With its siblings The Big Heat and Shield For Murder, Rogue Cop makes up a grim tryptich of big-town America in the mid-20th century.