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Anna Karina in Pierre le Fou

2012-02-12

Whitney Houston: Queen of the Night, "The Bodyguard"

Special to the San Francisco - Examiner.com
February 11, 2012
by Moira Sullivan

Queen of the Night

The Bodyguard (1992) is a timeless memento of vocalist Whitney Houston. It is one of the few films she made in her extraordinary music career.  Others include Forest Whitaker's Waiting to Exhale (1995) and Penny Marshall's The Preacher's Wife (1996), both where Houston was nominated for Image awards for best actress. Her new film Sparkle will be released this year about drug and alcohol abuse in the lives of three sisters who form a successful singing group. In the beginning stages of production for 2013, was a sequel to Waiting to Exhale where Houston would return to play Savannah Jackson.

At it's premiere in 1992, The Bodyguard  opened to negative reviews. The criticism was aimed at the direction  (Mike Jackson), script (Lawrence Kasdan), and film style --but not Houston, and certainly not her mesmerizing performance in the film. She adapted  Linda Ronstadt's cover of "I Will Always Love You" written by Dolly Parton and together with Clive Davis produced the music for the film.  In her phrasing, Houston shows her virtuosity and brilliance as an artist, in a song emulated by young vocalists for years.

The feature is built around pop diva, Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston), who is being stalked by a sadistic killer. The film features elaborate costume changes and stagecraft. Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) is hired by Marron's manager to protect her but soon finds it hard to resist her charm, even though he has been trained to not respond to people with social etiquette. Marron is a vocalist who does need protection and that is what Farmer does.

The claim that the film was considered a breakthrough for interracial dating is inflated. The relationship between the two is limited since Farmer breaks it off before it even begins, and shows little personal attention to Rachel afterwards. She is, on the other hand, eternally grateful to him for saving her life, which is how the theme song "I Will Always Love You" fits with the narrative. The title song has more do with Rachel Marron's unrequited feelings of love for the man who cannot share her life.

On their one date, Farmer takes Marron to the movies to see The Seven Samurai (1954) by Akira Kurosawa, and afterwards to his home where she picks up his samurai sword. Farmer then takes the sword from her and throws her sheer pink shawl up in the air, which the sword slices like butter. This facile detail represents that Marron is no match for Farmer's raw strength, something which is proven the following morning when he calls the date a mistake. This conquest of a great star, who must be totally subjugated in order for him to protect her, endears him to her forever.

Although The Bodyguard is about the buildup and breakdown of Rachel Marron. a powerful woman who winds up falling for her bodyguard, it is more appropriately a showcase of Whitney Houston and her talents. It features the song that has become most associated with her - "I Will Always Love You", who took it to a level that the song writer never did. In her phrasing, Houston shows her virtuosity and brilliance as an artist, in a song emulated by young vocalists for years.

Whitney, Bobby Brown, Cissy Houston,and Robyn Crawford
According to Houston's high school friend and number one assistant for many years, Robyn Crawford, Whitney had already thought about doing a cover of Dolly Parton's song before Kevin Costner approached her. "She did the movie, she did the music [co-writer of "Queen of the Night"], she did everything", said Crawford, "— and when she was done, she was done. She nailed it. The music supervisor brought her Linda Ronstadt's version of "I Will Always Love You" way before Kevin Costner brought Dolly Parton's version — and she always knew what she could do with it. So when Kevin came in and played it for her and told her he wanted her to sing it for the movie, she said, "Fine." She wasn't much for showing off what she had, except when she had to".

Houston was at the pinnacle of her career when The Bodyguard was made, and even if it isn't the best directed or best written film, it was still a popular centerpiece for the artist.

The Bodyguard shows us the strength and determination that is necessary for a beautiful soul with incredible talent to have a successful career at the expense of a fulfilling personal life. Rachel Marron's temperamental personality as a pop diva is driven by the fact that everyone wants a piece of her. We acquire realistic insights about how life can be for a major vocalist in the public eye, like Houston.

The sad news of Whitney Houston's death February 11, 2012 comes twenty years after The Bodyguard was released, when this brilliant vocalist was only 28.



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