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EDMOND O'BRIEN WEARS A 'SHIELD FOR MURDER' W/ JOHN AGAR

Year of Capture & Release: 1954
By the time this SHIELD FOR MURDER hit theaters, Edmond O'Brien had put on a few pounds, resembling Tyrone Power had he eaten Tyrone Power and with the lean, strict, tough years behind he was perfect as a character he'd have, a few years prior, spent an entire movie trying to bust...

Starting out with a MURDER where only one hidden witness knows the truth, O'Brien's crooked cop Barney might not have stooped this low... intentionally killing a lowlife criminal who happens to have a ton of cash from the bigwig mobster he ripped off... unless he felt he was above the law since he was the law, and Detective Barney Nolan not only has a bad temper but a reputation that proceeds him – the believers are a young cop he mentored since youth, played by TARANTULA star John Agar as well as the token ingenue, Marla English (THREE BAD SISTERS) as Patty Winters, a nice looking dame he can't trust to work in public yet he dreams of stowing her cozily into a tract house in the budding suburbs with the help of his victim, now donning empty pockets in the morgue and, with the exception of Emile Meyer's quick lecture, and a newspaper reporter morally hounding his cop friend, Barney seems to have gotten away with it.

MURDER SCORE: ***1/2
Overall SHIELD FOR MURDER is intense and not just when it's supposed to be. Moments where the stakes are raised and the suspense antes up as tables turn into the third act are taut but not as effective as when Barney's completely in the clear.

Marla English as Patty Winters
O'Brien's expressions alone, eyes either narrowed or bulging, even while romancing "other girl" barfly-type Carolyn Jones, makes him far from the usual ambiguous Noir centerpiece and yet a residual of sympathy remains in his hopeless desire in keeping a crime covered up, and the fact he killed a bad guy in the first place...

What does fit the particular genre are the low budget sets, from the police headquarters desks that seemed dragged in for a day's shoot, a boom microphone shadow that puts all visible booms to shame and covering up the flaws is terrific acting albeit too backed by a loud dramatic soundtrack...

In one scene he goes through a guilt-driven transformation that'd be more effective for O'Brien without the musical bombs bursting behind him. But flaws aside, this is a sparse and effective one-man show about a multi-flawed cop that, like even Film Noir protagonists, simply wants a short cut for the good life i.e. the impossible American Dream.
A Howard W. Koch production before his Bel-Air Productions featuring Marla English
Edmond O'Brien setting up the kill in SHIELD FOR MURDER
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Carolyn Jones and Edmond O'Brien
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Marla English and Edmond O'Brien
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Marla English
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Marla English and Edmond O'Brien
SHIELD FOR MURDER with John Agar, Marla English and Claude Akins
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Marla English and John Agar
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Marla English and John Agar
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Carolyn Jones and Edmond O'Brien
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Carolyn Jones and Edmond O'Brien
SHIELD FOR MURDER with John Agar
SHIELD FOR MURDER with Claude Akins
"Top of the suburbs, Ma!" in SHIELD FOR MURDER with Edmond O'Brien
"Top of the suburbs, Ma!" in SHIELD FOR MURDER with Edmond O'Brien
The worst case of a Visible Boom Mic ever: from SHIELD FOR MUDER
Marla English in SHIELD FOR MURDER
Edmond O'Brien and John Agar in SHIELD FOR MURDER
Norman Ollestad and Edmond O'Brien in SHIELD FOR MURDER

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