Starring: Sam Elliott, Anne Archer, Stephen Young, Parker Stevenson, Kathleen Quinlan, Sharon Clark, Steve Burns, Lenka Peterson, George Wallace, Paul Kent, Susan Anderson, Beatrice Colen, Linda Gillen, Jody Gilbert, Russ Marin, Alan Gruener, James Beach, James D. Graham, Oaky Miller, Larry Mitchell
Director: Daniel Petrie
Studio: Paramount
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Running Time: 96 minutes
DVD Release: June 21st 2005

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DVD Review

Sam Elliot drew waves of accolades for his sensitive and sexy portrayal of aging lifeguard Rick Carlson, who's compelled to reassess his life and career as a professional lifeguard. To keep things status quo or pursue things status-conscious - that's Carlson's dilemma. It's an agonizing decision compounded on one side by an adoring beach groupie (Quinlan) and on the other by a former high school flame (Archer) that's game for rekindling, but only if he's serious about trading in his swimsuits for three-piece suits.

User Reviews

Lifeguard theme song, - Rating: 5/5

The theme song is one of the best beach songs I have ever heard, and a 70's classic I think. But it's very rarely ever heard outside this movie. Paul Williams does have a cd with the song on it, but the song in the movie is performed by Dale Menten, and is very difficult to find.

Life's conscious choices. - Rating: 5/5

A long-awaited DVD choice, the launching of Sam Elliott, Kathleen Quinlan, Anne Archer and Parker Stevenson shin in one of the greatest B movies. On the surface, it anticipates "Jaws," yet was overshadowed by "Summer of '42." However, this "teen film" was very adult. Sam Elliott, as the inveterate lifeguard-jock, has the opportunity to move up or drift, sell-out or join. With all the temptations, he escapes with self-respect from tempting entanglements. His choices are contemporary, yet his decency and manliness do not go out with the tide at the finish. Anne Archer was never more lovelier as the sexy, vulnerable, willing single-mom.Kathleen Quinlan plays a perfect life-guard naive groupie to a tease. This is an unforgettable time capsule of the post-hippie,unhurried times. Peopld should see this film about individuals who thought about actions and weighed situations before committing themselves to regret, before cell phones and internet browsing.This is a movie that could beg for an equally mature follow-up. People forget "Last Summer," but are alwsys haunted by "Lifeguard."

Life is a beach - Rating: 4/5

This is a little movie that did. It was one of those films that everyone got their big break.

Sam Elliot plays lifelong lifeguard Rick. He's on the wrong side of 30 and still a lifeguard. But according to Rick, it's a job that has great environment, perks and the pay is not that bad.

Rick is at his midlife crisis and in comes an old high school pal who wanted to be a movie star, well now he runs a Porsche dealership. He wants Rick to come work for him. To add to this, he goes to his thirty year high school reunion. When he meets up with any of his old friends, he is embarrassed to tell them he is still a lifeguard. What complicates thing more is that his high school sweetheart is recently divorced. They reunite and things get intense. But she would rather have an affair with a Porsche salesman than a lifeguard.

While many of the actors had television exposure, this was the first big film most of the stars including Elliot, Anne Archer (as the sweetheart), Parker Stevenson (as a lifeguard trainee) and Kathleen Quinlan (as an underage groupie). While this film did not make stars out any of these actors but it gave them exposure. All showed that they had the potential.

Baywatch with brains, and much more - Rating: 4/5

It's amazing to me which films endure and which don't. After 40 years, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" looks like a relic from another era, and it's considered an all-time classic. Yet 30 years after it's release, Daniel Petrie's minor 1976 film "Lifeguard" looks as good now as it did upon its release, and remains as timely and vital as ever, even though noone would consider it a classic of its era.

Actually, on the big screen, "Lifeguard" resembled a glorified TV movie. On TV, however, it looks great, especially in this wonderful widescreen transfer. And it serves as a reminder that sometimes small, heartfelt films with modest aspirations can endure and be effective long after the same era's pretentious and overblown message pictures. "Lifeguard" could be described as "Baywatch" with brains, but its much more than that. How wonderful it is to see a movie set in Southern California and on the beach where the beachgoers look like real people and not surgically-altered superbabes. And although all of the featured lifeguards are men, you get the idea if they hired a woman, she'd look like Alexandra Paul and not Pamela Anderson. Even the women star Sam Elliott gets involved with look like real, average women--future Oscar nominees Kathleen Quinlan and Anne Archer chief among them. Believe me, it's a real treat to watch normal people onscreen for a change.

Elliott stars as Rick, a career lifeguard who is beginning another summer on the beach, with a new assistant/trainee (Parker Stevenson). He befriends a lonely teenager (Quinlan) who has just moved to L.A. from San Diego (and who has an obvious crush on him), has a few one-night stands and meets his parents for dinner, whereas his father lets him know he's tired of his son wasting his life at the beach. This sends him into an early mid-life crisis, especially when an old high school friend who owns a Porsche dealership offers him a "respectable" job selling cars. But it's not until he attends his 15-year high school reunion and reunites with his divorced high school flame Cathy (Archer) that he begins to seriously consider hanging up his trunks for good, especially when Cathy lets him know her interest depends on it. So, obviously, Rick has some serious thinking to do: give up the job he loves for the respectability of a job he doesn't. It's a simple story, but as most simple stories do, it resonates still.

"Lifeguard" is a sweet, even funny movie that will obviously appeal to women, but is also a painless date film. The entire cast is good, with Elliott the obvious standout. Filmed before he matured into the grizzled, tough cop/cowboy/military type he now excels at, it's refreshing to see him play such a regular, flawed guy. My only problem with his character is that he is so level-headed, a decision he makes involving his relationship with Quinlan's character seems completely out of character and even more stupid than it is. Maybe it's because today's morality is so much different than it was then. Either way, it's a jolt. Also, Quinlan is typically wonderful, and Stevenson offers able support as the rookie and Rick's sounding board. Archer, although second-billed, doesn't make her entrance until the second half of the film and then has barely ten minutes screen time. She's professional as always.

The photography and look of the film still look great so many years later, with none of the swimwear or fashions seemingly out-of-date, compared to other eras. And, yes, the song "Time and Tide" by Paul Williams, which was cut out of the TV prints, makes a welcome return, as so many others have noted.

In all, **** (out of *****) for "Lifeguard". Unfortunately, this is a typical no-frills, no-extras presentation from Paramount DVD. But at least they continue to present these old gems in widescreen, so thanks for that.

"Time and Tide" ~ Life on the Beach - Rating: 5/5

With the approach of his fifteen year high school reunion and the possibilty of re-connecting with his teenage sweetheart (Anne Archer), an aging lifeguard (Sam Elliot) re-examines his career choice and single lifestyle.

This is my favorite Sam Elliot role and conversely probably his least well known. It's one of those perfect little gems where everything seems to work to perfection. Much like the main character, Lifeguard Rick, the viewer subtly touches on so many different emotions during this film that it's hard to define exactly what you're experiencing at any given time. But in the end you are left with a quiet contentment, an understanding and acceptance of who you are and what is the right choice for yourself no matter what the mainstream opinion might be.

Paul Williams' song "Time and Tide" was removed from the soundtrack when this movie hit the T.V. screen. I hope it has been restored on the DVD release, it just wouldn't be the same movie without it.

Update 06/22/05: The DVD came out yesterday. I bought it and watched last night. All is well, the song is back. Thanks Paramount!