Rookie cop J.J., the first black police officer in the service, is a loyal albeit rather naive colleague who cooperates with a scam. He gradually discovers a cover-up that confronts him with a lot of moral dilemmas. The single female cop in the service is his only ally. They soon discover the scale of the moral decay and dark practices, while the other cops stop at nothing and protect each other.
The Glass Shield, which focuses more on human interactions and moods than on violent action, is seen as Burnett’s (Killer of Sheep and To Sleep with Anger) “most stylised and politically outspoken film”. This police drama, based on various existing scandals, emerged at the time of O.J. Simpson’s arrest and soon after the fierce protests against the violent arrest of Rodney King. The film is still relevant and urgent in 2017, and has been described by The Guardian as “a shamefully neglected 1994 squad-room drama”.

Filmmaker
Charles Burnett
Country
USA, France
Year
1994
Medium
File
Length
104’
Language
English
Producer
Thomas Byrnes, Carolyn Schroeder
Production Company
CiBy 2000, Miramax
Sales
BFI British Film Institute
Writer
Charles Burnett, John Eddie Johnson, Ned Welsh
Cinematography
Elliot Davis
Editor
Curtiss Clayton
Production Design
Penny Barrett
Music
Stephen James Taylor
Cast
Erich Anderson, Richard Anderson, Thomas Babson, Monty Bane, Michael Boatman, Ernie Lee Banks, Jean Hubbard-Boone