Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Priscilla Lane and |Lawrence Tierney
BODYGUARD (1948). Director: Richard Fleischer.

Lt. Mike Carter (Lawrence Tierney) is a hot-headed cop who doesn't play by the book, which gets him fired by his supervisor Borden (Frank Fenton of Lady of Burlesque). Carter is contacted by Freddie Dysen (Phillip Reed), who tells him that his Aunt Jean's life has been threatened. Jean Dysen (Elisabeth Risdon) is a tough old bird who runs the Columbia Meatpacking company, and the last thing she wants is a bodyguard. But when somebody takes a shot at her in her parlor, Mike agrees to take on the job. It develops that he has much bigger problems when he wakes up in a car on a railroad track with a corpse sitting next to him ... Bodyguard is a terse, snappy crime thriller with enough plot for two movies, but its short running time means it stints a bit on characterization. Gruff Tierney and sweet Priscilla Lane [The Meanest Man in the World] -- Lane plays Tierney's brave and devoted girlfriend -- are both fine as the leads, providing contrast, but the movie is nearly stolen by Risdon, giving another one of her sharp and  biting performances. Steve Brodie and June Clayworth [Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome] are notable as a brother and sister who are both in Risdon's employ, and Reed is suitably oily as her nephew. Fleischer's direction keeps the picture moving at a brisk pace, and there's a very suspenseful climax. While there is a blond in the movie, there is no femme fatale, making this only nominal film noir. Paul Sawtell's score is a plus, as is the photography by Robert de Grasse. Richard Fleischer also directed Fantastic Voyage and many others.

Verdict: Snappy "B" picture is taut and suspenseful. ***.

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