ⓘ The Bodyguard (1992 film)


ⓘ The Bodyguard (1992 film)

The Bodyguard is a 1992 American romantic thriller film directed by Mick Jackson, written by Lawrence Kasdan, and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner stars as a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect Houstons character, a music star, from an unknown stalker. Kasdan wrote the film in the mid-1970s, originally as a vehicle for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross.

The film was Houstons acting debut. Although a huge box office hit making $411 million worldwide and being the second-highest-grossing film worldwide released in 1992, it received mixed reviews from critics. The soundtrack became the best-selling soundtrack of all time, selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.

The film received seven Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including for the Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Costner, and Worst Actress for Houston.


1. Plot

Rachel Marron is an Academy Award-nominated actress and music superstar who is being sent death threats by a stalker. After a bomb explodes in her dressing room, her manager Bill Devaney seeks out professional bodyguard Frank Farmer to protect her. Frank was formerly a Secret Service agent, part of the protection detail during the Carter and Reagan presidencies. He is reluctant to accept Devaneys offer, as he feels Rachel is a spoiled diva who is oblivious to the threats against her life, but takes the assignment anyway.

Rachel soon accuses Frank of being paranoid, complaining that his extensive protection techniques are intrusive. Her existing bodyguard Tony resents Franks presence, leading to a brawl between the two in Rachels kitchen. However, Frank and Rachel grow closer when he rescues her from danger after a riot erupts at one of her concerts.

Though Frank tries to remain professional, he and Rachel sleep together; he breaks off the affair the next day, realizing it compromises his ability to protect her. Hurt, Rachel begins to defy Franks security measures, then attempts to sleep with his former Secret Service colleague Greg Portman, whom she meets at a Miami party.

When her stalker places a threatening phone call, Rachel finally recognizes the seriousness of the situation and her need to trust Frank completely. Frank, Rachel, her son Fletcher, her sister Nicki, and her driver Henry then travel to a large lakefront cabin in the mountains, the home of Frank’s father Herb.

The next day, Frank rescues Fletcher from a small motorboat just before it blows up. After Frank secures the house for the night, a drunk Nicki, upset that Fletcher could have died, admits to Frank that she hired a hitman to kill Rachel during a fit of jealousy, but that the letters from the stalker came before that. She has paid in full and does not know the killers identity. Abruptly, the hitman breaks into the dark house and fatally shoots Nicki. Frank pursues the killer into the woods; he shoots at the assailant but misses, allowing the latter to escape. Frank learns that the stalker had been apprehended earlier that day, and was in custody when Nicki was killed.

A few days after Nickis funeral is the Academy Awards ceremony, where Frank gives Rachel a panic button in the shape of a cross to immediately alert him to any trouble. Despite this, a plethora of backstage technical issues hamper Franks efforts to monitor the proceedings closely. While presenting an award, Rachel freezes and runs offstage, angry at Frank for embarrassing her with overprotective measures. Later, Rachel is announced as the winner for Best Actress, but as she comes on stage to accept the award, Portman is revealed to be the hitman, masquerading as the bodyguard for the ceremonys host. Frank notices Portman pointing a gun disguised as a camera at Rachel; as he prepares for the fatal shot, Frank runs onstage and leaps in front of Rachel, taking the bullet meant for her and setting off chaos amongst the audience. Quickly regaining his balance, Frank shoots and kills Portman as the latter aims at Rachel again. Frank is left wounded and Rachel calls for help - all the while urging him to stay with her as he slowly passes out.

Frank recovers from the shooting and bids farewell to Rachel at the airport, both knowing their relationship would never work out. After the plane starts to take off, Rachel suddenly orders the plane to stop, jumps out and runs to Frank for one last passionate kiss. Some time later Rachel performs" I Will Always Love You” on a stage, while elsewhere Frank is keeping a vigilant eye on his next assignment, a clergyman seen wearing the emergency cross earlier given to Rachel.


2. Cast

In addition, Tony Pierce plays the stalker, while the Academy Awards ceremony includes Robert Wuhl as the host, Richard Schiff as a backstage hand, journalist Chris Connelly as the red carpet M.C. and Debbie Reynolds as herself.


3. Background

Lawrence Kasdan was an advertising copywriter who wanted to get into filmmaking. He wrote eight scripts in eight years, including The Bodyguard which Kasdan says he wrote inspired by Yojimbo with Steve McQueen in mind for the lead. "I was interested in what kind of a guy would do that kind of work: to be willing to lay down his life for a salary, for someone he may care nothing about-maybe even have negative feelings about," said Kasdan. Kasdan says it was the first really good script he wrote:

I loved all my early scripts and I expected everybody else to love them. It wasnt until I wrote The Bodyguard and sensed it was different that I realized I was writing an increased level of density. A good script has levels of action going on, unexpected turns. Movies are an economical form. Your script must communicate in the tersest possible way an emotional feeling, imply it in a mosaic of tiny scenes. An unknown screenwriter selling a speculative script must deliver a delight. An established writer gets a lot of rope. The producer reads his script and says, I dont feel any delight but he must know what hes doing. A lot of times he doesnt, and you have a lousy movie.

Kasdan wrote it in 1975 and the script succeeded in getting him an agent, but it took the agent two years to sell the script - he says 67 people passed on it. Eventually the script was sold to John Calley for $20.000. Calley brought in John Boorman to direct. Kasdan admired Boorman and went to Ireland with the director where they did a treatment for a new movie. "He completely changed it, but I still loved him," said Kasdan.

In November 1978 the film was going to be made with Ryan ONeal and Diana Ross. However then Ross pulled out of the movie which went back into development hell.

After Kasdan made his successful directorial debut with Body Heat he was asked to direct The Bodyguard but he was reluctant, preferring to make The Big Chill. Kevin Costner read the script when making Silverado with Kasdan and became enthusiastic about it. The two men decided to produce it together. After Costner became a major star with the success of The Untouchables and Robin Hood, among others, he had the clout to make The Bodyguard.

In April 1991 Costner announced that he would star in the film alongside Whitney Houston.


4.1. Reception Critical reception

The Bodyguard received mixed reviews from film critics. As of December 2018, the film holds a 34% rating on the film aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, The Bodyguard is a cheesy, melodramatic potboiler with occasional moments of electricity from Whitney Houston." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly reviewed the film negatively, stating, "To say that Houston and Costner fail to strike sparks would be putting it mildly." He added that "the movie gives us these two self-contained celebrity icons working hard to look as if they want each other. Its like watching two statues attempting to mate." Other critics were more mixed or positive, including Roger Ebert, who praised the film and gave it three out of four stars, remarking, "The movie does contain a love story, but its the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight."

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilsons book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.


4.2. Reception Box office

In the United States, The Bodyguard opened on November 25, 1992 in 1.717 theaters; it grossed $16.6 million in its opening weekend, ranking third. The film spent 10 weeks in the Top 10, ultimately grossing $121.9 million domestically, and $410.9 million worldwide. It was the seventh highest-grossing film of 1992 in the United States and Canada, and the second highest-grossing film of 1992, worldwide. At the time, it was one of the top 100 highest-grossing films of all- time.

The film was re-released in 2012 and grossed a further $61.020.


4.3. Reception Accolades

Two songs from the film, "Run to You" and "I Have Nothing", were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The soundtrack was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three, including Album of the Year for its album of the same name. The film was nominated for several MTV Movie Awards, an Image Award, BMI Film & TV Awards, a Golden Screen Award in Germany and an Award of the Japanese Academy, according to the Internet Movie Database.

It received seven Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Costner, and Worst Actress for Houston. Houston was also nominated for Worst New Star was Kevin Costners haircut.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • 2002: AFIs 100 Years.100 Passions – Nominated
  • "I Will Always Love You" – #65
  • 2004: AFIs 100 Years.100 Songs


5. Soundtrack

The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album became the best-selling soundtrack of all time. It has been certified diamond in the United States sales of at least ten million with shipments of over 17 million copies. Worldwide, the sales are over 45 million copies. In addition, Houstons cover of "I Will Always Love You" sold 20 million units worldwide.

The soundtrack features five songs which were hit singles for Houston: "I Will Always Love You" a cover of the Dolly Parton song, "Im Every Woman" a cover of the Chaka Khan song, the two Oscar-nominated songs, "I Have Nothing" and "Run to You", and "Queen of the Night".

Other artists who appear on the soundtrack include fellow Arista recording artists Kenny G "Even if My Heart Would Break", a duet with Aaron Neville, Lisa Stansfield "Someday Im Coming Back" and Curtis Stigers "Whats so Funny Bout Peace, Love and Understanding". Also included is a cover of the Bill Withers standard "Lovely Day" by the S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.

In 2013, La-La Land Records released a limited edition CD 3.500 units of Alan Silvestris original score.


6. Parodies

  • The Venture Bros. - in the second-season episode "I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills", after having fallen in love with her charge, Dr. Venture, bodyguard Myra Brandish says she was taught "Never let them out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love", the tag line from the film.
  • The Simpsons - in the episode "Mayored to the Mob", Homer Simpson receives bodyguard training from an instructor singing "I Will Always Love You" after graduating from his class. Also in the episode, Mark Hamill gets carried by Homer in a fashion which parodies the way Costner carries Houston in the film.
  • The Hitmans Bodyguard - Teaser trailer featuring Houstons song "I Will Always Love You", and movie poster spoof.
  • Bulletproof - a scene in the film parodies The Bodyguard with Adam Sandlers character singing "I Will Always Love You" and remarking that Damon Wayanss character can always be his bodyguard.
  • In Living Color - Kim Wayans plays Grace Jones as the Whitney Houston character and Jim Carrey plays the Kevin Costner character, complete with bad hair. The scene when Kevin Costner carries Whitney Houston off-stage from the original movie is reversed with Grace Jones carrying Frank Farmer off while singing "I Will Always Love You".
  • 30 Rock - in the episode "Hard Ball", Tracy Jordan is rescued from a mob by his entourage; his character sang "I Will Always Love You" during the scene.

7. Musical adaptation

A musical adaptation of the film opened in Londons Adelphi Theatre in the West End in Fall 2012. David Ian, who produces the musical, received the stage rights from Kevin Costner and Lawrence Kasdan.

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