Watch Now: LIFEGUARD
Canadian filmmaker Daniel Petrie’s 1976 drama Lifeguard is a story about a mature man working as a lifeguard on a Southern California beach who, after many years suntanning among beautiful youth enjoying the waves around him, has to reach a decision what he wants to do with his life. This Sam Elliott-driven picture is a much different film than what its title or the poster would perhaps have you believe, as it’s a keen, warm and serious observation on ordinary people and the expectations they have to deal with, both internal, self-imposed and coming from their surroundings. With a great cast comprised of Elliott, Anne Archer and Kathleen Quinlan, Lifeguard is a quiet little summer film with a lot of heart, and thanks to its universally relevant subject matter, it’s rather likable and easily relatable.
Sam Elliott enjoyed making the film, but distinctly remembers the issues he had with the way Paramount opted to promote it. “We all took Lifeguard very seriously when we were making it. It’s a coming-of-age story for Kathleen Quinlan and it was also about this guy who was doing what he loved to do instead of succumbing to the pressure to do something else. It’s a very good movie that I’m proud of,” he later explained in an interview. “But Paramount sold the film in a very specific way. Their catchphrase was ‘Every girl’s summer dream’ and they used this artwork of me in my Speedo with a big-titted girl on either side of me.”