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Shield for Murder (1954)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | September 1954 (USA)
When a brutal police detective Lt. murders a bookmaker's runner for $25,000 in cash, a deaf mute sees him do it and now he finds he must kill again to cover his tracks.


Richard Alan Simmons (screenplay), John C. Higgins (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Edmond O'Brien ... Barney Nolan
Marla English ... Patty Winters
John Agar ... Mark Brewster
Emile Meyer ... Capt. Gunnarson
Carolyn Jones ... Girl at Bar
Claude Akins ... Fat Michaels
Lawrence Ryle Lawrence Ryle ... Laddie O'Neil (as Larry Ryle)
Herbert Butterfield ... Cabot
Hugh Sanders ... Packy Reed
William Schallert ... Assistant D.A.


A vicious cop kills a bookie's runner and steals $25,000 from the corpse. He then frames everyone in sight in order to keep the money to buy a new home for his would-be lounge singer girlfriend. Written by Ed Lorusso

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Here's the brutal story of a killer-cop and the dough and dames he murdered for! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

September 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Freibrief für Mord See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Stafford Repp. See more »


In the opening scene, Nolan walks past a full-length glass door. Visible in reflection is a stage light with a screen in front of it with large perforations - to give the street lighting an uneven or "dappled" look. See more »


[last lines]
Capt. Gunnarson: [to police reporter] Write his story good.
See more »


Referenced in Biography: Carolyn Jones: Morticia and More (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Taut and well-scripted with a good performance by O'Brien
8 May 2017 | by twhitesonSee all my reviews

Middle-aged "Detective Barney Nolan" (Edmond O'Brien) is a bad cop out to make a score for his retirement fund. He finds it by murdering a "bagman" bookie of a local mobster who was carrying $25,000 in mob-money. Nolan stages the scene to make it look like an arrest that deteriorated into an attempted escape, leaves some chump-change on the corpse, and pockets the $25k. Initially, it looks like Nolan will get away with his callous scheme and eventually retire to suburban track-house comfort with his much younger girlfriend, "Patty" (Marla English).

However, he has three things going against him. First, he already has too many shootings "in the line of duty" for this one to be completely shrugged-off by his captain (Emile Meyer), the local crime beat reporter (Herbert Butterfield),and his fellow detectives. Secondly, the mob boss, "Packy Reed" (Hugh Sanders), wants his $25k and sends two goons (one of them a young Claude Akins)after Nolan to get it back. And, finally, there was a witness to the murder. Still, Nolan has his partner, "Sgt. Mark Brewster" (John Agar), who is willing to give his friend every benefit of the doubt, but as the evidence of Nolan's guilt mounts even Sgt. Brewster starts to wonder.

The best thing about "Shield for Murder" is the character of Barney Nolan. He's a violent brute. The beast underneath the badge is never far from the surface. He murders for money. He roughs-up his girlfriend's boss for no reason other than his outrage at her skimpy cigarette girl costume. He brutally pistol-whips two men in front of a bar full of shocked and horrified patrons. Yet, we see glimpses of a man who was not always a monster- his sweetness towards his girlfriend and a scene where he lets a young shoplifter off the hook which was apparently a repeat of something he done in the past to good effect.

Edmond O'Brien probably aged more quickly and badly than any leading man actor of his era. In 1939's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" he was thin, had a mop of wavy hair, a pencil mustache, and the chiseled features of a handsome Hollywood matinée idol. Yet, within fifteen years, he was badly overweight, puffy-looking, and sweaty. It looks like he didn't give a hoot about his physical appearance which is unusual for an actor. In "Shield for Murder," though, O'Brien's disheveled appearance actually fits his character very well.

However, his scenes with 19 yr old budding starlet Marla English are a bit of a stretch. While one can definitely see what an overweight, middle-aged man would like about Ms. English's "Patty"- she looks like a combination of young Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Collins- we have no idea what she sees in him. Ms. English is OK in the role, but her character could have been played by almost any young actress. It appears Ms. English was chosen by the producers just so they could briefly show-off her physical assets in that cigarette girl costume.

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