Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Lifeguard

I’ve been a Sam Elliott fan for a long time. He’s been a highlight of the generally dismal history of Western movies over the past thirty years. For those of you who have read my novels in the ABILENE series, I always pictured Elliott as the hero of that series, Marshal Luke Travis.


However, the first Sam Elliott movie I ever saw wasn’t a Western. It was LIFEGUARD, a quiet little drama about a guy who’s, well, a lifeguard. Elliott plays a character who’s in his mid-30s but still working as a lifeguard on the beach in Los Angeles, even though his friends and family think he ought to grow up and get a real job. He starts to consider it when meets a woman he likes (the beautiful Anne Archer), but at the same time, a younger woman he meets on the beach (the equally beautiful Kathleen Quinlan) is attracted to him despite the difference in their ages, and he keeps being drawn back to her.


That’s pretty much all of the plot, as I remember it (been a while since I’ve seen this one), Elliott trying to choose between Quinlan and the beach or Archer and a more so-called normal life. But the movie is so well-written and well-acted that it remains compelling all the way through, and the scenery, which is somewhat wintery and gloomy despite the beach setting, is beautifully photographed.


If you haven’t seen this one, it’s well worth watching. It’s very much of its time and really has that Seventies feel to it. Which, for those of us who were there, isn’t a bad thing.

11 comments:

Tim Mayer said...

One of the great overlooked movies of the 70's. It shows a California which really doesn't exist any longer.

Anonymous said...

At the time of the movie Elliott was indeed 32, the age he played but Archer, supposedly his high school sweeheart, was 29. The "teenaged" Quinlan was 22.

Jeff M.

Ed Gorman said...

I remember seeing this at a drive in and being surprised by how good it was. Nice little film strong on character and milieu.

Walker Martin said...

I remember being impressed by this at a drive-in also. I have the dvd in my film library and will watch it again soon.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I remember this one too. Always liked Elliott.

Charles Gramlich said...

I vaguely remember this. I'm really loving Redemption, Kansas btw.

Ron Scheer said...

Elliott is a favorite, especially as he ages and wears a cowboy hat.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Sam Elliott, especially that gravelly voice, was very much in my mind when I wrote of the problems of aging Sam Hammond in A Gunfight Too Many, which began:
In one sense, Sheriff Sam Hammond was a retiring man. In another, he surely was not.
Sam set no store on bragging, ostentation or swank, unless
these peccadilloes could be read into whatever attention he
bestowed with the help of the Rainbow City barbershop on the
grooming of a fine horseshoe mustache.

Cap'n Bob said...

Alas, Archer is in that cult I disdain. I'll miss this one.

Troy Smith said...

The first one I saw -and one of the first movies I remember seeing, period, was FROGS.

RJR said...

No way U'd have trouble choosing between Quinlan and Archer. ANN ARCHER ALL THE WAY!!!!!!!! One of the most beatiful women I've seen on tv or in the movies.

RJR