The Glass Shield (1994)
In this crime drama, an honest lawman has to decide where his loyalties lie in a corrupt system. All his life, J.J. (Michael Boatman) has dreamed of being a cop, and after graduating from the Police Academy, he gets his wish, becoming the first African-American policeman based out of Los Angeles' Edgemar station. However, J.J. discovers that his race makes him an outsider among his fellow officers. His presence is not welcomed by his superior, Massey (Richard Anderson), and the only colleague who is truly hospitable to him is Deborah (Lori Petty), the only female cop at Edgemar and the target of as much abuse as J.J. Hoping to somehow fit in, J.J. digs into his work and tries to be "just one of the guys," ignoring the racism and corruption around him. However, one night J.J.'s fellow officer Bono (Don Harvey) pulls over Teddy Woods (Ice Cube), an arrogant and uncommunicative young black man, and in the midst of an illegal search of his car, he finds a gun; even though he knows that Bono acted improperly, J.J. put his loyalty behind the force and lies to support Bono's story. The gun's serial number matches that of a weapon used to murder the wife of Mr. Greenspan (Elliott Gould), a prominent Jewish businessman, and Woods is charged with the killing. However, J.J. discovers that the number of the gun had been altered, and he has to decide what to do when he realizes that Teddy could be sentenced to death without having committed a serious crime. The Glass Shield also features Bernie Casey, Sy Richardson, and M. Emmet Walsh. … More
as J.J. Johnson
as Deborah Fields
as Teddy Woods
as Clarence Massey
as Deputy Jack Bono
as Deputy Roy Bush
as Mr. Taylor
as Judge Helen Lewis
as District Attorney Ir...
as Carmen Munoz
as Barbara Simms
as Reverend Banks
as Sergeant Chuck Gilmo...
as Sergeant Berry Foste...
as Deputy Kurt Smith
as Deputy Jim Ryan
as Mr. Harold Johnson
as U.S. Marshall
as Mr. Woods
as Mrs. Woods
as Paramedic No. 1
as Woman Driver
as Mr. Cruz
as Mrs. Cruz
as Teddy Woods' Girlfri...
as Court Clerk
as Mrs. Marshall
as Insurance Investigat...
as Jury Foreman
as Mr. Marshall
as Buddy Johnson
as Judge Speck
as Arraignment Lawyer
as Jane Baker
as Reporter No. 2
as Reporter No. 1
as Assistant D.A.
as Richard Rodrigo
as Interpreter Castro
as Sheriff Sergeant
as Insurance Investigat...
as The Punk
as Sheriff Sergeant
as Councilman Ross
as Mrs. Johnson
as Investigating Office...
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Critic Reviews for The Glass Shield
An angry anti-cop message flick directed and written to be subversive by angry LA based indie filmmaker Charles Burnett.
Ambition is something to respect in an artist, but Charles Burnett's police-corruption drama The Glass Shield is such a maladroit piece of filmmaking that its weighty themes and sclerotic tangle of a plot end up making it a trial to sit through.
A powerful moral drama that tries to deal with the racism at the root of many problems in contempo American society.
Despite studio interference, it's still a decent film, and the association of a black man and a Jewish woman (as two outcasts) is a welcome addition to the genre.
The movie feels sketchy, as if Burnett chopped the flesh off his screenplay and left us only the bare bones.
Burnett uses a socially discomforting scenario that has only vague implications of deeper malice to initiate a brave portrayal of a Caucasian-centric sort of martial law.
The film's ambition makes Burnett's occasional overstatement easy to forgive.
Credit writer/director Burnett for having the courage of his convictions, even if the outcome is a film that a lot of people will see as clichéd and stereotyped.
an entirely honorable - if inevitably doomed - attempt to reconcile Burnett's political and social concerns with the requisites of mass entertainment.
Generic racial drama, hindered by a clubfooted direction and lumbering performances.
A surprisingly compelling look at racism amongst police officers.
It's a rigorous, angry piece of work, but it misses out on the psychological depths that have made Burnett's previous films among the glories of recent American independent moviemaking.
An implausible, wearisome clunker trying to ring true but making only dull thuds.
It has both ideas and a point of view. But the ideas are far from new, and the point of view is blatantly knee-jerk.
Burnett's screenplay has a tendency to be a little too preachy, especially during the unsatisfying final scene. There's a fine line between getting the message across through subtlety and becoming didactic...
Though no masterpiece, the film is an interesting sidebar for moviegoers who try to keep up; it's like a '50s film noir oddity you catch on 3 a.m. TV, only to find that it's become a more scintillating view than Ben-Hur.
Boatman has the open-faced earnestness of someone who believes in his own goodness. As he begins to register the burden of unpleasant knowledge, we see J.J. grow up in front of our eyes.
Though The Glass Shield gets bogged down in some of its narrative byways, the journey, nonetheless, is rich and rewarding.
Audience Reviews for The Glass Shield
A pretty good Police Drama about how once again the white man has done the black man wrong. Still Story line worth 4 starsMore
This is a gritty police story of crime and corruption in the police force based partially on a true story revolving around a young black cop J.J. Johnson (MICHEAL BOATMAN), the first black officer who is sent to an all-white Los Angeles station for his first assignment. The black rookie encounters not-so-subtle racism and at first tries to fit in by covering up certain corrupt practices within his department but then he is drawn into a plot to falsify evidence against a supposed murderer (ICE CUBE). He is teamed up with Lori Petty, the only female deputy who helps J.J in his investigation. As a much deeper conspiracy is uncovered, J.J and Petty tries to uncover the truth behind the false prosecution of Ice Cube and finds themselves trapped between the wheels of the conspirators and the legal system, both of which they are sworn to serve. Great cast of actors including Richard Anderson, M. Emmet Walsh, Bernie Casey (is good as Ice Cube's lawyer) and Elliott Gould and Michael Ironside who is chilling as one of the corrupt officers!More
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