Directed by: Mick Jackson
Screenplay by: Lawrence Kasdan
Tagline: “Never let her out of your sight • Never let your guard down • Never fall in love”
The Bodyguard is a 1992 romantic thriller directed by Mick Jackson, written by Lawrence Kasdan, and starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston. Costner stars as a former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard who is hired to protect Houston from an unknown stalker. Kasdan wrote the film in the mid 1970s, originally as a vehicle for Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross.
The Bodyguard was Houston's acting debut and was the second-highest-grossing film worldwide in 1992, making $411 million, despite mixed to negative reviews from critics. The soundtrack became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time, selling more than 45 million copies.
Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) is an Academy Award-nominated music superstar who is being stalked and sent death threats. Things get dangerously out of hand when a bomb disguised as a doll explodes in her dressing room. Rachel's manager, Bill Devaney (Bill Cobbs), seeks the services of a professional bodyguard, Frank Farmer (Costner), to protect her. He is a highly successful private bodyguard, who mostly protects corporate VIPs. Formerly he was a Secret Service agent who served in the protection details of two presidencies. Frank is reluctant to accept the offer to guard Rachel as he sees her as a spoiled diva who is oblivious to the threats against her life.
Frank's concerns are quickly validated when Rachel looks on Frank for being paranoid. She considers his extensive protection techniques as intrusive. Rachel's current bodyguard Tony (Mike Starr) resents Frank's presence. But at a concert where Rachel is performing a riot breaks out, and Frank rescues her. The two consequently develop a closer relationship. Frank tries to remain professional, but the two sleep together. Recognizing that this compromises his ability to protect his client, Frank breaks off the affair. Hurt, Rachel begins to defy Frank's painstaking security measures. She even goes as far as attempting to sleep with his former Secret Service colleague Greg Portman (Tomas Arana). But after coming into personal contact with her stalker in a threatening phone call, Rachel realizes that she has to trust Frank. She finally recognizes the seriousness of her situation and cancels the rest of her tour.
Frank, Rachel, Rachel's driver Henry (Christopher Birt), Rachel's son Fletcher (DeVaughn Nixon), and her sister Nicki (Michele Lamar Richards) then travel to a large lakefront cabin in the mountains, the home of Frank’s father, Herb (Ralph Waite). The next day, Fletcher is almost killed when a bomb explodes inside the boat he was riding in moments before. After finding footprints around the cabin and sabotaged automobiles, Frank realizes that Rachel's stalker has followed them. After securing the house for the night, Frank learns that Rachel's obsessive stalker and the person trying to kill her are not the same person. Angry and drunk, Nicki admits that during a drug-induced fit of jealousy she hired a hitman to kill Rachel, but that the letters from the stalker came before that. Nicki can't call it off because she does not know the killer's identity.
Abruptly, the hitman breaks into the house and shoots Nicki dead. Frank, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, ensures that his father has secured the rest of the group on the second floor. Upon tracking the killer and pursuing him into the woods, Frank shoots but misses, allowing the shooter to escape. Frank learns the next day, from his Secret Service contacts, that they have apprehended the stalker and were interviewing him when Nicki was shot.
Frank and Rachel attend Nicki's funeral and then the Academy Awards ceremony. A host of backstage technical issues hamper Frank's efforts to do his surveillance work effectively. During the actual show, Rachel freezes and runs offstage, angry at Frank for embarrassing her with overprotective measures. However, Rachel returns to the audience and is present when announced as the winner for Best Actress. As she comes toward the stage to accept the award, the hitman is revealed to be Portman. Frank notices Portman pointing a gun disguised as a camera at Rachel. As Portman prepares for the fatal shot, Frank rushes the stage and leaps in front of Rachel, intercepting the shot. Once regaining his balance, he shoots Portman through his camera-gun, killing him.
Frank recovers from the shooting and goes to say goodbye to Rachel at the airport. After the plane starts to taxi, Rachel suddenly jumps out and runs to Frank for one last passionate kiss. Rachel boards the plane, and Frank leaves for his next protection detail—the governor, a politician with a penchant for underage girls whom Portman had protected.
Behind the Scenes
Lawrence Kasdan's first screenplay, the film was originally proposed in 1976 with Steve McQueen and Diana Ross in the leads, but negotiations fell through when McQueen refused to be billed second to Ross. It was proposed again in 1979, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ross in the leads. The project fell through due to irreconcilable differences between the two stars. Costner stated that he based Frank Farmer on Steve McQueen; even cutting his hair like McQueen (who had died 12 years earlier).
Olivia Newton-John, Pat Benatar, Madonna, Cher, Joan Jett, Deborah Harry, Liza Minnelli, Janet Jackson, Donna Summer, Terri Nunn, Kim Carnes, Crystal Gayle, and Dolly Parton were all at some point considered for the role of Rachel Marron.
The 1920s Beverly Hills mansion and grounds featured in The Bodyguard once belonged to William Randolph Hearst, and were also featured in The Godfather.
As of October, 2015, The Bodyguard held a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, "The Bodyguard is a cheesy, melodramatic potboiler with occasional moments of electricity from Whitney Houston." It received seven Golden Raspberry Award nominations, including Worst Picture. Owen Gleiberman, of Entertainment Weekly reviewed the film negatively, writing, "To say that Houston and Costner fail to strike sparks would be putting it mildly." He added that "the movie gives us these two self-contained celebrity icons working hard to look as if they want each other. It's like watching two statues attempting to mate." Other critics praised the film however. Roger Ebert, who gave it three out of four stars, said "The movie does contain a love story, but it's the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight."
Two songs from the film, "Run to You" and "I Have Nothing", were nominated for Oscars for Best Original Song. The soundtrack was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three, including Album of the Year. The film was nominated for several MTV Movie Awards, an Image Award, BMI Film & TV Awards, a Golden Screen Award in Germany and an Award of the Japanese Academy.
The Bodyguard is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.