BODYGUARD (director: Richard Fleischer; screenwriters: Robert Altman & George W. George (story)/Harry Essex/Fred Niblo Jr.; cinematographer: Robert De Grasse; editor: Elmo Williams; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Lawrence Tierney (Mike Carter), Priscilla Lane (Doris Brewster), Philip Reed (Freddie Dysen), Elisabeth Risdon (Gene Dysen), June Clayworth (Connie), Steve Brodie (Fenton), Charles Cane (Captain Wayne), Frank Fenton (Lt. Borden), Charles Wagenheim (Dr. Briller), Erville Alderson (Adam Stone); Runtime: 62; RKO; 1948)
“A solid but routine action B-film crime drama that plays like a Mike Hammer episode.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A solid but routine action B-film crime drama that plays like a Mike Hammer episode. Hard-boiled homicide detective Mike Carter (Tierney) gets suspended on the recommendation of his immediate boss Lt. Borden to the stationhouse boss Captain Wayne. Carter angrily quits the department and blames Borden for not backing him up. While attending a baseball game with his girlfriend Doris (Lane), who is the switchboard operator for homicide, he’s contacted by a sleazy Freddie Dysen (Reed) to be bodyguard for his eccentric Aunt Gene Dysen (Risdon). She’s the wealthy sole owner of the Continental Meat Packing Company and Freddie thinks she’s in danger. Carter turns down the handsome offer, saying they should contact the police. But Freddie is persistent and the reluctant Carter takes the job after someone fires at Gene through the window of her mansion.
While following Gene, who left her house at 4 a.m., Carter is knocked out from behind and when he awakens he’s seated behind the wheel in his car that is stuck on the railroad tracks with the murdered Borden placed next to him. Carter flees as a train is coming, contacts Doris, and goes on the run since he was framed for Borden’s murder and his name is plastered all over the newspapers. He has Doris check the case files on the arrests made by Borden and has her leave that info by recording at a local arcade.
When Carter visits the meat packing workplace, he learns that a meat inspector died at the plant recently and it was ruled as an accidental death by Lt. Borden because the inspector had bad eyes. Carter is rudely treated at the plant by the surly foreman, Fenton (Brody), whose sister Connie is Gene’s house secretary and secured the job for the ex-con.
Carter next visits the meat inspector’s brother (Alderson) and finds out that the coroner’s report lied about the deceased’s bad eyes, and that Borden was on the take to doctor that report. He then tracks down the optometrist, Dr. Briller, who filed the false report. Feeling that he has enough evidence to get the guilty party, he calls Captain Wayne. But Doris gets trapped in the meat packing plant and observes someone tampering with the meat by injecting it with water and the brains behind this scam is threatening to kill her. A good old fight in the plant between Carter and the culprit brings the cleaver down on this standard thriller. It was not difficult figuring out the guilty parties. The 23-year-old Robert Altman co-wrote the story and the director was Richard Fleischer, who went on to a rather illustrious career after this so-so one.
REVIEWED ON 6/16/2002 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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