Lifeguard (film)

Last updated
Directed by Daniel Petrie
Produced by Ron Silverman
Written by Ron Koslow
Starring Sam Elliott
Anne Archer
Stephen Young
Parker Stevenson
Kathleen Quinlan
Music by Dale Menten
Cinematography Ralph Woolsey
Edited by Art J. Nelson
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 23, 1976 (1976-07-23)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$900,000 [1]

Lifeguard is a 1976 American drama film made by Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Daniel Petrie from a screenplay by Ron Koslow. It stars Sam Elliott, Anne Archer, Stephen Young, Parker Stevenson, and Kathleen Quinlan. [2] [3]



Rick Carlson, a 32-year-old lifeguard on a Southern California beach, is prompted to question his goals in life when he receives an invitation to his 15-year high school reunion. At the beach, a 17-year old girl named Wendy flirts relentlessly with Rick. He is worried about their age difference, but he remains friendly with her.

Rick's old high school friend Larry offers to hook him up with a sales job at a Porsche dealership. Rick goes for an interview but is ambivalent about the job.

The night of the reunion, Wendy follows Rick home and surprises him at the door. He invites her in as he gets ready. She is astonished to learn that he is in his 30s. They kiss before Rick goes to his reunion.

At the reunion, Rick is repeatedly embarrassed about still being a lifeguard and begins to lie about why he is so tanned. When he sees his old sweetheart Cathy, he says he works for the county. He begins a relationship with Cathy who encourages him to take the job at the car dealership.

Back at the beach, Wendy asks Rick when they will make love again. He says that what they are doing is illegal, and he says that they should each find someone their own age. Later, he sees Wendy swimming away from the beach and goes out to rescue her. She admits she is trying to kill herself. He takes her to shore and walks her to her car. He tells her that when school starts the next day, she will find someone new to love.

As the season winds down, Larry returns offering Rick a sales job. Rick turns it down, realizing that it probably means an end to his relationship with Cathy. He tells Larry that he will remain a lifeguard "as long as they'll have me".



Elliott's parents were lifeguards and he had worked as a lifeguard himself. He was cast after Dan Petrie and his wife saw Elliott on TV in Frogs. The film was finished in August 1975 but held by Paramount until the next year. Elliott held off doing any TV in that time because he hoped the film would establish him in features. [4] This did not happen. [5] However Elliott always regarded the movie as a personal milestone. "Dan Petrie did a great job directing that movie; it was shot for something like only $900,000. Those were the days." [1]

Part of the film was shot in Petrie's own home. [6]

It was produced by Ted Mann. [7]

Most of the lifeguard tower scenes were filmed at the Knob Hill and "Burnout" towers in the South Bay of Los Angeles.


Lifeguard received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a rating of 43% from 14 reviews. [8]

See also

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  1. 1 2 Jay Bobbin Zap2it (Apr 9, 2006). "Movie star Elliott does action flick by the book". Journal–Gazette (Final ed.). p. 16W.
  2. "Lifeguard – film review". Variety . May 26, 1976
  3. Frankel, David (4 May 2012). "Cherishing Sun-Baked Cinema". The New York Times . Retrieved 2014-09-02.
  4. "Metropolitan: Maggie Daly". Chicago Tribune. 10 June 1976. p. a10.
  5. Deans, Laurie (15 Mar 1985). "LA CLIPS Riding the waves to new success". The Globe and Mail. p. E.7.
  6. Berges, Marshall (30 July 1978). "home q&a: dorothea & dan petrie with persistence and talent they have fashioned careers out of a passion for drama home q&a home q&a home q&a". Los Angeles Times. p. q24.
  7. champlin, charles (Dec 5, 1975). "The Mann Behind Chinese". Los Angeles Times. p. h1.