Movie Critique – Bodyguard

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Despite being relegated to B-movie status, and lacking the romantic spark between the lead pair, it had been a very enjoyable and intriguing movie for me.

Bodyguard is a 1948 American film noir starring Lawrence Tierney and Priscilla Lane. It is based on short story written by George W. George and Robert Altman. This film marks the final screen appearance for Priscilla Lane. It is an RKO film 

Homicide Detective, Michael C. "Mike" Carter (portrayed by Lawrence Tierney) is forced to resign from Los Angeles Police Department and takes up the job of a bodyguard. But then he is implicated in a murder and now on the run. His fiancée Doris Brewster (portrayed by Priscilla Lane) helps him in proving his innocence. 

Tierney portrayed mostly on the wrong side of the law kind of roles which imitated what his real-life had been too. He did his best to sabotage his successful career by going against the law and landing in trouble more than often in his real-life. His roles definitely were powerful, with the mean streak that he carried on his self all the time.

Incidentally in this film though he plays a good guy. Yet, the directors, screenwriters and producers still gave him the mean streak and destructive nature. Sadly after this film, due to his erratic behavior and reckless nature towards law, and the many incidents he already faced, he was pushed to B movies that were partially successful. 

Our heroine, Priscilla Lane, was the youngest of the Lane Sisters of singers and actresses. Despite making considerably good movies, she opted to retire from films as soon as this movie was completed. Wonder why she did so!

This is the first of the seven noir films directed by Richard Fleischer for RKO. The screenplay was written by Fred Nibio Jr. and Harry Essex. This movie was also the first big pay for Robert Altman, who co-wrote the original story. He went on to become a successful director, producer and screenwriter.

The entire film is made in a documentary style. But do not miss the tongue-in-cheek dialogues by Tierney or the quick mind of Lane as the clerk at the police station. Together they form a formidable team in solving the crime.

We get a first hand knowledge of how meat packing is done. Ooh it grossed me out just to look at it all, though I can eat chicken now and then if cooked by someone else and masked in tons of Indian spices. :P

We can also see how the directors made use of light & shadows, cheap studio sets, no-name locations, under a shoe-string budget and still came out with a masterpiece that remains the annals of film making forever. Yet we see a few flaws in the film.

Tierney and Lane are supposed to be a romantic pair in the film. They made a charming investigative pair and definitely a formidable team. But I see a distinct lack of romantic spark between them. The chemistry needed to be a couple is lacking but is there when they are partners on a case. That's why I felt them more like Holmes & Watson type of pair rather than Case, the crime photographer & his reporter girl friend Ann Williams. 

Despite being relegated to B-movie status, and lacking the romantic spark between the lead pair, it had been a very enjoyable and intriguing movie for me. Entertaining with enough suspense and some hidden laughs, we can clearly see how it became a stepping stone towards success for many of the cast and crew on the film. Just for laughs, go ahead and watch it. I promise, you will not be disappointed. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. The front of the engine reads Santa Fe in reverse - "EF ATNAS" in the scene where Mike Carter jumps out of a car before the train hits.


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