My Bodyguard

My Bodyguard

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tony Bill
Produced by Melvin Simon
Don Devlin
Written by Alan Ormsby
Starring Chris Makepeace
Adam Baldwin
Matt Dillon
Martin Mull
Ruth Gordon
Music by Dave Grusin
Cinematography Michael D. Margulies
Edited by Stu Linder
Melvin Simon Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 11, 1980 (1980-07-11) (Limited)
  • August 15, 1980 (1980-08-15) (Wide)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3 million[1]
Box office $22.5 million

My Bodyguard is a 1980 American comedy-drama film directed by Tony Bill (his directorial debut), and written by Alan Ormsby. The film stars Chris Makepeace, Adam Baldwin, Matt Dillon, Martin Mull, and Ruth Gordon.

The film was the debut of both Baldwin and an uncredited Jennifer Beals, and was Joan Cusack's first major film.


Clifford Peache (Chris Makepeace) lives in an upscale Chicago luxury hotel with his father (Martin Mull), who manages the hotel, and his eccentric but loving grandmother (Ruth Gordon). Clifford spends his nights with his family relaxing on the rooftop patio and spying on the neighbors through a telescope. He is the new kid at Lake View High School, where he arrives in a hotel limousine.

Clifford becomes a target of abuse from a bully, Melvin Moody (Matt Dillon). Moody and his gang of thugs, Dubrow (Richard Bradley), Koontz (Tim Reyna), and Hightower (Dean R. Miller), regularly terrorize and extort lunch money from other smaller, timid students, allegedly to protect them from a school outcast, the large, sullen Ricky Linderman (Adam Baldwin). According to school legend, Ricky has killed several people, including his own little brother. A teacher (Kathryn Grody) tells Clifford that the only violence she's aware of from Ricky's past occurred when his younger brother died accidentally while playing with a gun.

Clifford works up the nerve to approach Ricky and asks him to be his bodyguard. Ricky refuses, but the boys do become friends after Ricky saves Clifford from a beating by Moody and his gang. Ricky has emotional issues over the death of his 9-year-old brother a year earlier, and is slow to come out of his shell, but has been rebuilding a motorcycle that he cherishes. The friendship between the two boys is strengthened as Clifford successfully helps Ricky search junkyards for a hard-to-find cylinder for the motorcycle's engine.

As Clifford, Ricky, and a few friends from school, including fellow victims Carson (Paul Quandt), Shelley (Joan Cusack), and an unnamed girl (Jennifer Beals), eat lunch in Lincoln Park, Moody and his gang approach. Moody has enlisted the help of an older bodybuilder named Mike (Hank Salas), someone he announces is his bodyguard. Mike bullies, intimidates and physically abuses the younger Ricky, and vandalizes his motorcycle before Moody pushes it into the lagoon. Ricky runs away. He later comes to Clifford to ask for money, ostensibly to pay for pulling the motorcycle out of the lagoon. Feeling used, Clifford follows him and the two argue before Ricky reveals to Clifford that he accidentally shot his brother while babysitting him at home. As a result of the accident, he is overwhelmed with guilt and remorse.

Moody and Mike later return to the park to further bully the other children and start a reign of terror. Unbeknownst to them, Ricky is also there retrieving his motorcycle. As Ricky attempts to leave with the bike, Moody notices and announces that the motorcycle now belongs to him. Ricky refuses the demand, so Moody summons Mike and the two begin to fight. Ricky gains the upper hand before Moody jumps on his back. Seeing his friend in trouble, Clifford manages to pull Moody off. Ricky beats Mike, knocks him unconscious, and then turns his attention to Moody. But instead of fighting Clifford's battle for him, he urges Clifford to fight Moody himself while coaching him. Clifford is afraid, but when he finally lands a solid punch and breaks Moody's nose, winning the fight, he realizes that Moody the bully is weak and cowardly. Ricky takes his bike back and as the children all leave together, he jokingly asks Clifford to be his bodyguard.


Release and reception

My Bodyguard opened on July 11, 1980, in limited release, and wide release on August 15, 1980. In its limited weekend, the film opened at #3 with $178,641 and went on to gross $22,482,953 in the United States.[2]

The film ranked #45 on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 50 Best High School Movies.[3]

The film received generally positive reviews, garnering an 85% 'fresh' rating and the consensus "T. Bill debuts as an affectionate director, keenly aware of growing pains," on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[4]


  1. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p259
  2. "My Bodyguard (1980)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
  3. "Head of the Class: The 50 Best High School Movies". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 1, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
  4. My Bodyguard at Rotten Tomatoes
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