Homicide detective Mike Carter is tossed off the police force for insubordination and violating regulations. He reluctantly takes a job as bodyguard to Mrs. Gene Dysen, the owner of a local... See full summary »
Homicide detective Mike Carter is tossed off the police force for insubordination and violating regulations. He reluctantly takes a job as bodyguard to Mrs. Gene Dysen, the owner of a local meat-packing plant. In investigating threats against her life, Carter begins unraveling the murder of a meat inspector at the plant, but not before he himself is framed for the murder of his former supervisor on the police force. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Great use of Los Angeles locations and street life
BODYGUARD (1948) is a snappy 62-min. b&w noir programmer directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Lawrence Tierney. Rather than repeat what others have said here, I'd rather emphasize a couple of things that truly distinguish this film. For one thing, it was filmed largely on location at sites all over Los Angeles. Ex-policeman Mike Carter (Lawrence Tierney), trying to clear himself of a false murder charge, moves around L.A. quite vigorously in the course of his investigation, sometimes by car, sometimes by cab, and sometimes on foot, traveling to shops, offices, back alleys, factories, piers, and amusement arcades all over the city. If you like seeing film footage of L.A. in the 1940s, there are many films with abundant footage, but none quite like this one.
Also, I'd like to single out a very clever scene that offers an ingenious method of transmitting key information from one location to another in the era before fax machines, cell phones, or e-mail. Carter needs the contents of a case file kept by the police officer whose murder he's been framed for. Only his girlfriend, Doris (Priscilla Lane), who works in the department, can find the file for him. He tells her over the phone to write down all the important cases handled by the officer in the past year and then go to an amusement arcade on 3rd Street, find a "Record Your Own Voice" booth and read all the cases into the microphone onto as many vinyl records (78 rpm) as needed, and then to leave the stack of records for him at the cashier's counter under an assumed name. Carter's plan is to go to the arcade, give the assumed name, enter an available booth and listen to the records until he finds the case he's looking for. There are wonderful little details of character and street life woven into the scene (and just about every scene in the movie). When Carter first enters the arcade, the brassy blonde at the counter is flirting with two sailors and claims not to know anything about a stack of records for a "Mr. Nolan." An anxious Carter gets insistent and the two sailors turn on him, spoiling for a fight. Only then does the manager come over and defuse the situation and find the package of records for Carter. It's just a brief moment but it not only adds to the suspense, but captures so much of the tenor of the time and place.
The basic plot itselfcorrupt industrialist covers up shady business practices via murder and convenient frame-upswould get recycled ad infinitum on TV cop shows in the 1970s. But it might have seemed somewhat fresh back in 1948, especially after ALL MY SONS (also 1948), based on Arthur Miller's play, raised a similar issue in a drama of a wartime industrialist who sends out defective airplane parts with tragic results.
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