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Guarding Tess (1994)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 11 March 1994 (USA)
0:31 | Trailer

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A former U.S. First Lady wants a particular Secret Service agent to head her bodyguard detail, even though he can't stand her.


Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Earl Fowler
Barry Carlisle
Howard Schaeffer
John Roselius ...
Tom Bahlor
Lee Danielson
Ralph Buoncristiani
James Lally ...
Joe Spector
Brant von Hoffman ...
Bob Hutcherson (as Brant Von Hoffman)
Kenny Young (as Harry J. Lennix)
Kimberly Cannon
Charles Ivy
Neal Carlo


Doug is a Secret Service Agent who has just completed his stint in charge protecting Tess Carlisle, widow of a former U.S. President, and close personal friend of the President. He finds that she has requested that he not be rotated but instead return to be her permanent detail. Doug is crushed. He wants off her detail. She is very difficult to guard and makes her detail crazy with her whims and demands. Doug returns with no idea of how to continue dealing with her. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A comedy beyond the call of duty.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 March 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un ange gardien pour Tess  »

Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)


$27,053,498 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The voice of the president was provided by writer and director, Hugh Wilson. See more »


When reporting the last know location of Mrs. Carlisle's Lincoln, Agent Chesnic reports her vehicle heading East at the Chester Exit off Interstate 71. However, Chester, Ohio is located in Rural Southeastern Ohio; nowhere near an interstate. See more »


Tess Carlisle: It's got no price at all.
Bob Hutcherson: Yes ma'am. Uh, Doug, this is Bobby in canned goods, are you anywhere near the manager? I need a price check on Lesieur baby peas, repeat, Lesieur baby peas.
Doug Chesnic: Lesieur baby peas.
Store Manager: They're on special today, two for .59.
Doug Chesnic: They're on special today, two for .59.
Bob Hutcherson: Uh, copy that, it's two for .59.
Tess Carlisle: But I only want one.
Bob Hutcherson: Uh, roger that, Doug, but she only wants one.
Doug Chesnic: How much for just one?
Store Manager: The same. It's a two for one thing.
See more »


Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Wiener Symphoniker, Bruno Weil
Courtesy of Sony Classical
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

Unusual theme, unusual relationship, brilliantly done
8 March 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This is an unexpected pearl of a movie. Neither of the two stars, Shirley MacLaine or Nicholas Cage, are normally high on my list of favorites, but they pull off this odd ball relationship to perfection. There's chemistry here, just not in the usual sense of the word! It's a plot idea unlike any I've previously encountered...

Doug (Nicholas Cage) is a Secret Service man assigned the dubious honor of "guarding Tess" Carlisle (Shirley MacLaine), the feisty, aging, crotchety widow of a former American President and friend to the current President (who owes her favors and she doesn't let him forget it!). Nothing Doug does pleases Tess; nothing ANYONE does pleases Tess. Yet, she has an obvious underlying affection for her Secret Service guard, the only agent she'll in fact tolerate, who most of the time wishes he had just about any other job. Tess's own son totally neglects her and she's a lonely lady, caught up in old memories of her past White House days, when she and her husband were objects of great respect, affection, and attention. Tess is a cantankerous character now (of course Shirley MacLaine's a natural for the part!) but altogether sympathetic. I won't give away the story but Doug has his work cut out for him, and not just putting up with her moods, whims, and assorted outrages. The plot thickens and drama awaits...

There's action and adventure but the movie is much more character driven than plot driven. It's a treat to watch the unfolding relationship between this unlikely pair. Whether it's a realistic scenario or not, it makes for an entertaining, amusing, and touching movie you're bound to enjoy.

42 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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