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


Hugh Wilson
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Shirley MacLaine ... Tess Carlisle
Nicolas Cage ... Doug Chesnic
Austin Pendleton ... Earl Fowler
Edward Albert ... Barry Carlisle
James Rebhorn ... Howard Schaeffer
Richard Griffiths ... Frederick
John Roselius ... Tom Bahlor
David Graf ... Lee Danielson
Don Yesso ... Ralph Buoncristiani
James Lally James Lally ... Joe Spector
Brant von Hoffman ... Bob Hutcherson (as Brant Von Hoffman)
Harry Lennix ... Kenny Young (as Harry J. Lennix)
Susan Blommaert ... Kimberly Cannon
Dale Dye ... Charles Ivy
James Handy ... 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. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


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


The story takes place in Ohio but every car throughout the movie has Maryland license plates where the actual filming occurred. See more »


Store Manager: [to Doug, as other secret secret service agents escort Tess around the supermarket] Does she want to be known today?
[Doug shakes his head]
Store Manager: [to customers and cashiers] Don't know her! Don't know her! Don't know her!
See more »


Referenced in Freakazoid!: Dexter's Date (1996) See more »


Joy To The World
Written by Isaac Watts (uncredited) and Lowell Mason (uncredited)
Courtesy of Capitol/OGM Production Music
See more »

User Reviews

Likable Film!
24 July 2013 | by g-bodylSee all my reviews

Guarding Tess is a light, likable film that has good intentions and is easily entertaining. However, it is pretty forgettable and this film has similar themes and plot points as the much better film, Driving Miss Daisy. Both films are about a younger guy and an older woman going at it with each other before their relationship improved. But all in all, this is a good, light-hearted film.

Hugh Wilson's film is about a Special Agent Douglas who has been trained for the very best. Instead, he is assigned to keep watch over former First Lady Tess Carlisle. We realize that these two people have nothing in common and is very hard to get along.

The acting is solid. Shirley MacLaine is one of Hollywood's best and rumor has it that this role is very similar to her real-life persona. But, she was magnificent here. Nicolas Cage is also good and his role is very restrained for once. There are other wonderful 90's character actors that take up the screen including Richard Griffiths and James Rebhorn.

Overall, this is a delightful, mild-mannered film about two people with nothing in common defying odds so that they begin to respect each other. This is labeled as a comedy, but I can't see why. I hardly laughed, but this works very well as a drama. This film reminds me greatly of Driving Miss Daisy and I think that's a good thing. I rate this film 8/10.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 64 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

11 March 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guarding Tess See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$7,065,213, 13 March 1994

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed