Saturday, October 2, 2021

Movie Reviews: Bodyguard (1948)

directed by Richard Fleischer
This 1948 film was helmed by Richard Fleischer who also directed the somewhat lighter in tone The Clay Pigeon. Bodyguard is not the darkest noir either though it occasionally flirts with some heavier takes in terms of story and theme.
It might be of some interest to younger viewers because it stars famed Hollywood knucklehead Lawrence Tierney in the lead role. Tierney was never a superstar but made his name playing many tough mean guys, regardless of which side of the law his character could be found. 
This was a bit of art imitating life as the hulking alcoholic Tierney had numerous brushes with the law and violence, some minor, others less so.
His record included everything from assault on police officers, to drunken bar brawls with stabbings, fights with fellow actors, numerous stints in jail, and suspicious timing when a woman he was visiting supposedly jumped out of her apartment building to her death. 
Modern audiences may remember Tierney from two of his nineties roles: Elaine Benes' cranky father from Seinfeld, and the vituperative crime boss Joe Cabot from Reservoir Dogs. True to form Tierney scared people on both of those productions and wasn't invited back. He actually got into a fist fight with Reservoir Dogs director Quentin Tarantino. Tierney also shot at his nephew shortly afterwards. So it goes. 
Anyhow Mike Carter (Tierney) is a tough LA homicide detective who lets both of his fists do his talking for him. Carter has no time to let silly little things like probable cause or search warrants get in the way of justice, his justice. 
The only things Carter cares about besides putting bad guys away are a young group of mostly Hispanic kids he takes to baseball games and looks out for and a LAPD file clerk named Doris (Priscilla Lane). 
Everyone else can get bent, thank you very much! When his lieutenant (Frank Fenton) suspends him for his cowboy tactics, Carter decides to keep it all the way real and punches out his lieutenant.
Now fired, Carter thinks he has more time to just relax and make goo-goo eyes at Doris.
But Fred Dysen (Phillip Reed) decides that Carter would make an excellent protector for his elderly aunt Gene (Elisabeth Risdon). Someone's been trying to knock her off. The widowed Gene is head of a million dollar meat packing plant. 
The independent Gene doesn't think she needs a bodyguard and Carter doesn't want the job at first. There's something a little off about the whole Dysen family.
But Fred is a persuasive and wealthy man. This leads into various sleazy whodunnits, double crosses, and setups. Carter is going to need some help.
This was a decent, not great movie. It was also very short, running just a little over an hour. I liked the tough guy dialogue, which was employed just as much by the women as the men.
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