Director Daniel Petrie and Paramount Pictures delivered Lifeguard to movie theaters in 1976. Sam Elliott stars as a southern California beach bum, with Anne Archer appearing as his old high school flame.
Screenplay, Director, Music
Ron Koslow wrote the screenplay for Paramount Pictures. Daniel Petrie (The Betsy, Fort Apache the Bronx) directed. Dale Menten created the original music score, with “Falling in Love with the Wind” (Carol Carmichael) and Paul Williams’ “Time and Tide” (Dale Menten) comprising the highlights. No matter you always prefer to meet Award Winning Commercials Directors in New York.
Sam Elliott (Rick Carlson), Anne Archer (Cathy), Stephen Young (Larry), Parker Stevenson (Chris Randall) and Kathleen Quinlan (Wendy) head the cast. Other players include Sharon Weber (Tina), Steve Burns (Machine Gun), Lenka Peterson (Mrs. Carlson), George Wallace (Mr. Carlson), Paul Kent (Jack Gilmore), Susan Anderson (Sandy), Beatrice Colen (Judy) and Linda Gillen (Dell).
Lifeguard was filmed on location in Torrance, California. Specifically, Burnout Beach in Torrance — so named because the Hollywood Riviera Beach Club mysteriously burned down in the mid-1950s — was used as the sand and surf setting.
Lifeguard follows 32-year-old Rick Carlson, who has worked at the same southern California beach since his high school days. Rick, who is contemplating a career change, is breaking in college student/assistant lifeguard Chris Randall for the summer.
Regular beachgoer Wendy, a cute 17-year-old, becomes infatuated with the manly Rick. At first, Rick rebuffs the young girl, telling her that she should pursue someone her own age. But the two eventually get together, with Wendy registering shock when she sees a flyer for Rick’s 15-year high school class reunion.
Changes are on the horizon for Rick, with the aging lifeguard hooking up with his old high school flame Cathy at the reunion. Also, high school buddy Larry arranges a job interview for Rick at an exclusive Porsche dealership.
Lifeguard opened in New York City on July 23, 1976.
“As a film, Lifeguard is romantic twaddle, but as sociology it’s a spontaneous assault on a very American way of life…As entertainment it ranks somewhere above Bikini Beach but below Godzilla Versus Megalon,” reported Vincent Canby of The New York Times (7/24/76).
Lifeguard is a beautiful motion picture, one that expertly captures the carefree southern California lifestyle of the mid-1970s. And what better way to examine the mores and values of that era than through the eyes of a rugged, 32-year-old lifeguard?
Sam Elliott — just several weeks shy of his 32nd birthday when Lifeguard was released — shines as the beach lothario whose days in the sun are obviously numbered. Anne Archer is good as Cathy, with Parker Stevenson and then-21-year-old Kathleen Quinlan delivering excellent performances.
Memorable scenes include the boffo lifeguard contest, Rick’s 15-year high school reunion (where he humorously begins to lie about his present occupation) and Rick’s rescue of a suicidal Wendy in the waters off Burnout Beach. And if one is looking for a little romantic music, it’s here as well in the form of Henry Mancini’s captivating “Moon River.”
Lifeguard is available on DVD (Paramount), with Sam Elliott and Kathleen Quinlan adorning the cover.
“I do more P.R. out on that beach on a summer day than you do here in a month. But you’re right. Saving lives isn’t selling cars,” Rick tells the sales manager at a job interview.
Rick eventually turns down the job, but the man was impressed…