Electra Glide In Blue


1h 46m 1973

Brief Synopsis

An Arizona motorcycle cop moves to the Homicide Division to solve a hermit's murder.

Film Details

Also Known As
Big John, Legend of Big John, The
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Action
Crime
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono (Todd-AO)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Officer John Wintergreen is short for a cop, but he dreams big. He gets his shot at being a detective when a hermit is murdered in the desert, but must come to grips with who he is and what he wants before he can be at peace.

Film Details

Also Known As
Big John, Legend of Big John, The
MPAA Rating
Genre
Adventure
Action
Crime
Drama
Release Date
Jan 1973
Premiere Information
not available
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono (Todd-AO)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Gist (Electra Glide in Blue) - THE GIST


Not all lost movies are literally lost...some languish in studio vaults, victims less of time and tide than corporate neglect. Over the last thirty years, there has been precious little ink spilled over Electra Glide in Blue (1973), the only feature film directed by James William Guercio, and its quiet return to the world on DVD is cause for reevaluation. Starring a post-In Cold Blood (1967), pre-Baretta Robert Blake, Electra Glide in Blue is equal parts modern western, biker flick, policier and existential journey-to-self, complete with the then-requisite downer ending that, however it may echo Easy Rider's (1969) sting in the tale, still packs a punch.

Set in a dusty desert community of trailer parks, titty bars and tumbleweed ennui, Electra Glide in Blue plays like an unpublished Jim Thompson novel, with Blake's ambitious chopper cop making good at a crime scene and earning a detective grade promotion that introduces him to a new world of pain. Guercio corralled a stellar cast with supporting parts played by Mitch Ryan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Royal Dano and Billy "Green" Bush but the film's best performance comes from Jeannine Riley, former star of TV's Petticoat Junction. As a washed-up Rockette reduced to roadhouse waitressing, Riley delivers an impressive drunken monologue late in the film, turning the disappointments of her life into an interpretive dance while humiliating both Blake and Ryan. It's a tour-de-force moment, one of many in a film that has lingered too long in the shadows.

Producer: James William Guercio, Rupert Hitzig
Director: James William Guercio
Screenplay: Robert Boris, Rupert Hitzig
Cinematography: Conrad Hall
Film Editing: Jim Benson, Gerald B. Greenberg, John Link
Art Direction:
Music: James William Guercio
Cast: Robert Blake (Officer Wintergreen), Billy Green (Officer Davis), Mitch Ryan (Detective Harve Poole), Jeannine Riley (Jolene), Elisha Cook (Crazy Willie), Royal Dano (Coroner).
C-114m. Letterboxed.

by Richard Harland Smith
The Gist (Electra Glide In Blue) - The Gist

The Gist (Electra Glide in Blue) - THE GIST

Not all lost movies are literally lost...some languish in studio vaults, victims less of time and tide than corporate neglect. Over the last thirty years, there has been precious little ink spilled over Electra Glide in Blue (1973), the only feature film directed by James William Guercio, and its quiet return to the world on DVD is cause for reevaluation. Starring a post-In Cold Blood (1967), pre-Baretta Robert Blake, Electra Glide in Blue is equal parts modern western, biker flick, policier and existential journey-to-self, complete with the then-requisite downer ending that, however it may echo Easy Rider's (1969) sting in the tale, still packs a punch. Set in a dusty desert community of trailer parks, titty bars and tumbleweed ennui, Electra Glide in Blue plays like an unpublished Jim Thompson novel, with Blake's ambitious chopper cop making good at a crime scene and earning a detective grade promotion that introduces him to a new world of pain. Guercio corralled a stellar cast with supporting parts played by Mitch Ryan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Royal Dano and Billy "Green" Bush but the film's best performance comes from Jeannine Riley, former star of TV's Petticoat Junction. As a washed-up Rockette reduced to roadhouse waitressing, Riley delivers an impressive drunken monologue late in the film, turning the disappointments of her life into an interpretive dance while humiliating both Blake and Ryan. It's a tour-de-force moment, one of many in a film that has lingered too long in the shadows. Producer: James William Guercio, Rupert Hitzig Director: James William Guercio Screenplay: Robert Boris, Rupert Hitzig Cinematography: Conrad Hall Film Editing: Jim Benson, Gerald B. Greenberg, John Link Art Direction: Music: James William Guercio Cast: Robert Blake (Officer Wintergreen), Billy Green (Officer Davis), Mitch Ryan (Detective Harve Poole), Jeannine Riley (Jolene), Elisha Cook (Crazy Willie), Royal Dano (Coroner). C-114m. Letterboxed. by Richard Harland Smith

Insider Info (Electra Glide in Blue) - BEHIND THE SCENES


The police department of Scottsdale, Arizona disapproved of the script by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig and refused all participation, forcing the production out into the desert.

Guercio could not afford veteran cinematographer Conrad Hall, and so augmented Hall's salary with his own. According to Guercio, he made one dollar for directing Electra Glide in Blue.

Because Guercio had little money for casting, many of the relatives of the cast and crew appear in bit roles, including Guercio's wife Lucy and Conrad Hall's daughter Kate.

Many of the hippies in the commune scene are played by Chicago's roadies, including Bob Zemko, who died the following year.

When producers visited the set and complained that Guercio was ten days behind schedule, Guercio ripped ten pages out of the script, losing a subplot involving Melissa Green's "Hippie Girl."

The motorcycle chase late in the film was shot months after the end of principal photography by second unit director Bill Hickman. Hickman was veteran stuntman and stunt driver who also acted in such films as Bullitt (1968) and The French Connection (1971).

In the scene where Greenbush's Zipper Davis hoists a tree stump over John Wintergreen's head, actor Blake was genuinely afraid for his safety.

Apart from the title track, Guercio recorded the score for Electra Glide in Blue in one day, utilizing a 60 piece orchestra.

Chicago band member Terry Kath plays the shotgun-wielding hippie in the film's climax. Kath died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while playing Russian Roulette in January 1978.

Sources:
NYT review
www.sensesofcinema.com
www.dvdtown.com/review
www.destgulch.com
www.dvdtimes.co.uk
einsiders.com
Psychotronic Magazine

by Richard Harland Smith

Insider Info (Electra Glide in Blue) - BEHIND THE SCENES

The police department of Scottsdale, Arizona disapproved of the script by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig and refused all participation, forcing the production out into the desert. Guercio could not afford veteran cinematographer Conrad Hall, and so augmented Hall's salary with his own. According to Guercio, he made one dollar for directing Electra Glide in Blue. Because Guercio had little money for casting, many of the relatives of the cast and crew appear in bit roles, including Guercio's wife Lucy and Conrad Hall's daughter Kate. Many of the hippies in the commune scene are played by Chicago's roadies, including Bob Zemko, who died the following year. When producers visited the set and complained that Guercio was ten days behind schedule, Guercio ripped ten pages out of the script, losing a subplot involving Melissa Green's "Hippie Girl." The motorcycle chase late in the film was shot months after the end of principal photography by second unit director Bill Hickman. Hickman was veteran stuntman and stunt driver who also acted in such films as Bullitt (1968) and The French Connection (1971). In the scene where Greenbush's Zipper Davis hoists a tree stump over John Wintergreen's head, actor Blake was genuinely afraid for his safety. Apart from the title track, Guercio recorded the score for Electra Glide in Blue in one day, utilizing a 60 piece orchestra. Chicago band member Terry Kath plays the shotgun-wielding hippie in the film's climax. Kath died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while playing Russian Roulette in January 1978. Sources: NYT review www.sensesofcinema.com www.dvdtown.com/review www.destgulch.com www.dvdtimes.co.uk einsiders.com Psychotronic Magazine by Richard Harland Smith

Yea or Nay (Electra Glide in Blue) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE"


"Under different intentions, it might have made a decent grade-C Roger Corman bike movie-- though Corman has generally used more interesting directors than Guercio. It is in fact a murder mystery, in which a higher-principled Arizona motorcycle cop discovers the death of an old recluse and, against all odds, finds out who killed the man and why. Upon this slender plot is grafted lots of excess cinema, and a really unfair share of meaning."
Roger Greenspan, The New York Times

"A forgotten gout amid the spume of the American new wave, James William Guercio's 1973 Midwestern policier is a grim, ambivalent rejoinder to the generational agitprop of Easy Rider...it's a living flashback, all desert dust, arty compositions, working-class despair, and a potent sense of outlaw critical mass. The ending, echoing and overshadowing Rider's, is a masterfully appalling moment in an era chockablock with convulsions." Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice

"Yet, warts and all, there are ways in which Electra Glide in Blue might be considered the real picture of the year: with its careful attempt to touch all bases in appealing to the prejudices of, and the worst in, practically everybody, probably as good a movie as any to serve as a record for posterity of the spectrum of bad feeling which characterized this fifth year of the Nixon Era..."
William S. Pechter, Commentary

"Alternately genial and portentous, this nervy 1973 Panavision inversion of the Easy Rider formula stars Robert Blake as an Arizona motorcycle cop grappling with existential issues. James William Guercio's direction rips off virtually every icon in the American cinematic shrine, from the monumental vistas of John Ford westerns to the leather-and-chrome fetishism of the Corman biker epics, and chaotically combines wide-screen close-ups in shallow focus, sweeping panoramas, slapstick, bathos, pathos, and two performances of occasional subtlety from Blake and Billy Green Bush. The period politics, which equate the highway patrol with fascism, are dumb and messy."
Don Druker, Chicago Reader

"Striking one-off by a former record producer. A weirdly funny black comedy about an undersized cop, barely five feet tall...the film has an extraordinary texture, peeling away layer after layer to reveal dark depths of loneliness and despair as this cop Candide learns that he isn't living in the best of all possible worlds. And Conrad Hall's photography, especially of the Monument Valley landscapes is a joy."
Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide

"Something of a cop version of Easy Rider, Electra Glide in Blue (released in 1973) has moments of strained pretentiousness but is nevertheless, extremely effective in showing the fruitless attempts of one truly good cop. Blake gives a poignant, layered performance as the motorcycle cop wishing to rise the ranks to detective. And it's distinctly Blake-ian in the actor's ability to be simultaneously bizarre and touching. There is just something so off about him. The notion that a cop is this by the book makes him a curious outsider-more of a rebel."
Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun

"Filmed in 1973, Electra Glide in Blue was a contemporary slice of the turmoil that existed during that time...The movie holds up today for the simple reason that its director Guercio and screenwriters Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig present the opposing forces on display in an unbiased manner. The cops and the counterculture are both shown warts and all...the movie holds up today without feeling dated."
Rusty White, Entertainment Insiders

"Electra Glide purports to be a sort of Easy Rider for the motorcycle-cop set as Wintergreen sets out to find out what he's really made of and what he really wants out of life, but often the movie nearly collapses under the weight of its own good intentions (and pretensions). It combines a fairly standard-issue mystery plot with action scenes, moral questions, and arthouse sensibilities in an overbaked mixture that often works, but not always. It's still worth seeing for Blake's sake; he's always been an actor who's not afraid to take on offbeat roles."
Jerry Renshaw, Austin City Chronicle

"Electra Glide in Blue is an unusual film, a good example of the 70s penchant for mixing (or if you prefer, undermining) established genres...Politically this is a hard film to call, being neither pro-cop nor pro-hippie, and stylistically it's a mixture of traditional classicism and what was then cutting-edge technique. But as a fascinating one-off of its period, Electra Glide in Blue is well worth seeing.
Gary Couzens, DVD Times

"The... film is not for all tastes but it is a joy for the adventurous viewer."
Don Guarisco, AllMovie.com

"At times, Electra Glide in Blue feels like it is about to jump the rails, cartwheeling into the anything-goes realm of exploitation. Yet every time, Blake's intense, sincere performance pulls the film back on track and holds our interest. He is an interesting actor with real screen presence..."
Judge Steve Evans, DVDVerdict.com

"Made at a time when America hadn't just lost its way but had also misplaced its A-Z, Electra Glide is the product of a disciplined filmmaker who understands both actors and the power of the empty frame. How unfortunate that (James William Guercio) should have decided that making records with Chicago was more exciting than haggling with producers."
Richard Luck, Channel14.com

"Boasting cinematographic bravado by director of photography Conrad Hall, the film is full of terrific compositions. Hall captures the desolate Arizona highways and the desperate conditions of communal living, along with nicely played-out action sequences with stylized camera-play. Hall's skilled photography is one of the main aspects of the film that elevates it above the status of just a plan action/murder-mystery...Electra Glide in Blue is an overlooked film that reveals its ambiguous morality in subtle ways similar to other films of the decade...the film deserves to be on the map with the other efforts of quintessential '70s cinema."
Bill Blick, SensesofCinema.com

"Electra Glide in Blue was made during Blake's hey-day in the 70s and he's actually pretty darn good in this one, playing a by-the-book cop with dreams of carrying a detective's badge, investigating the cases no one else sees (or wants to see). Factor in some pretty spectacular cinematography (still 70s cinematography, but gorgeous nonetheless) and an intriguing tale and you have a pretty entertaining flick that can still hold the interest of this viewing audience, despite not being born when this gem graces the big screen."
CalgaryMovies.com

"(Electra Glide in Blue) could never be construed as written by the winners, because it maps out the dynamics of corruption too complexly and refuses to say the little man is good because he's doomed. The truth is perhaps more painful, but it's also a great deal less certain."
Travis Mackenzie Hoover, Film Freak Central

"One of the great-unsung films of the 1970s, Electra Glide in Blue...stands as a fine example that epitomizes a glorious, but all too brief time of filmmaking after the limitations of the studio system and the restrictions of the Hays Codes collapsed, and before political correctness and the 'blockbuster' mentality overtook modern-day Hollywood, and being real was all a filmmaker had to worry about."
Chuck O'Leary, FulvueDrive-in.com

"(Electra Glide in Blue) arrived at a tumultuous time when the old divisions between cowboy and Indian, black hat and white hat, and villain and hero were becoming hopelessly blurred. In keeping with the zeitgeist, it's a thriller where solving the central crime seems somewhat irrelevant: Only thinly disguised as a cop movie, Electra is a profound and ultimately tragic meditation on identity, belonging, and the fickleness of the American Dream. It circles around genres only to dismantle and reassemble them in more truthful ways."
Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club

"I truly love Conrad Hall's work on Electra Glide in Blue, which makes use of a lot of very long lenses and looks completely unique.
Josh Becker, director Sea of Love (1989)

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Yea or Nay (Electra Glide in Blue) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE"

"Under different intentions, it might have made a decent grade-C Roger Corman bike movie-- though Corman has generally used more interesting directors than Guercio. It is in fact a murder mystery, in which a higher-principled Arizona motorcycle cop discovers the death of an old recluse and, against all odds, finds out who killed the man and why. Upon this slender plot is grafted lots of excess cinema, and a really unfair share of meaning." Roger Greenspan, The New York Times "A forgotten gout amid the spume of the American new wave, James William Guercio's 1973 Midwestern policier is a grim, ambivalent rejoinder to the generational agitprop of Easy Rider...it's a living flashback, all desert dust, arty compositions, working-class despair, and a potent sense of outlaw critical mass. The ending, echoing and overshadowing Rider's, is a masterfully appalling moment in an era chockablock with convulsions." Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice "Yet, warts and all, there are ways in which Electra Glide in Blue might be considered the real picture of the year: with its careful attempt to touch all bases in appealing to the prejudices of, and the worst in, practically everybody, probably as good a movie as any to serve as a record for posterity of the spectrum of bad feeling which characterized this fifth year of the Nixon Era..." William S. Pechter, Commentary "Alternately genial and portentous, this nervy 1973 Panavision inversion of the Easy Rider formula stars Robert Blake as an Arizona motorcycle cop grappling with existential issues. James William Guercio's direction rips off virtually every icon in the American cinematic shrine, from the monumental vistas of John Ford westerns to the leather-and-chrome fetishism of the Corman biker epics, and chaotically combines wide-screen close-ups in shallow focus, sweeping panoramas, slapstick, bathos, pathos, and two performances of occasional subtlety from Blake and Billy Green Bush. The period politics, which equate the highway patrol with fascism, are dumb and messy." Don Druker, Chicago Reader "Striking one-off by a former record producer. A weirdly funny black comedy about an undersized cop, barely five feet tall...the film has an extraordinary texture, peeling away layer after layer to reveal dark depths of loneliness and despair as this cop Candide learns that he isn't living in the best of all possible worlds. And Conrad Hall's photography, especially of the Monument Valley landscapes is a joy." Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide "Something of a cop version of Easy Rider, Electra Glide in Blue (released in 1973) has moments of strained pretentiousness but is nevertheless, extremely effective in showing the fruitless attempts of one truly good cop. Blake gives a poignant, layered performance as the motorcycle cop wishing to rise the ranks to detective. And it's distinctly Blake-ian in the actor's ability to be simultaneously bizarre and touching. There is just something so off about him. The notion that a cop is this by the book makes him a curious outsider-more of a rebel." Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun "Filmed in 1973, Electra Glide in Blue was a contemporary slice of the turmoil that existed during that time...The movie holds up today for the simple reason that its director Guercio and screenwriters Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig present the opposing forces on display in an unbiased manner. The cops and the counterculture are both shown warts and all...the movie holds up today without feeling dated." Rusty White, Entertainment Insiders "Electra Glide purports to be a sort of Easy Rider for the motorcycle-cop set as Wintergreen sets out to find out what he's really made of and what he really wants out of life, but often the movie nearly collapses under the weight of its own good intentions (and pretensions). It combines a fairly standard-issue mystery plot with action scenes, moral questions, and arthouse sensibilities in an overbaked mixture that often works, but not always. It's still worth seeing for Blake's sake; he's always been an actor who's not afraid to take on offbeat roles." Jerry Renshaw, Austin City Chronicle "Electra Glide in Blue is an unusual film, a good example of the 70s penchant for mixing (or if you prefer, undermining) established genres...Politically this is a hard film to call, being neither pro-cop nor pro-hippie, and stylistically it's a mixture of traditional classicism and what was then cutting-edge technique. But as a fascinating one-off of its period, Electra Glide in Blue is well worth seeing. Gary Couzens, DVD Times "The... film is not for all tastes but it is a joy for the adventurous viewer." Don Guarisco, AllMovie.com "At times, Electra Glide in Blue feels like it is about to jump the rails, cartwheeling into the anything-goes realm of exploitation. Yet every time, Blake's intense, sincere performance pulls the film back on track and holds our interest. He is an interesting actor with real screen presence..." Judge Steve Evans, DVDVerdict.com "Made at a time when America hadn't just lost its way but had also misplaced its A-Z, Electra Glide is the product of a disciplined filmmaker who understands both actors and the power of the empty frame. How unfortunate that (James William Guercio) should have decided that making records with Chicago was more exciting than haggling with producers." Richard Luck, Channel14.com "Boasting cinematographic bravado by director of photography Conrad Hall, the film is full of terrific compositions. Hall captures the desolate Arizona highways and the desperate conditions of communal living, along with nicely played-out action sequences with stylized camera-play. Hall's skilled photography is one of the main aspects of the film that elevates it above the status of just a plan action/murder-mystery...Electra Glide in Blue is an overlooked film that reveals its ambiguous morality in subtle ways similar to other films of the decade...the film deserves to be on the map with the other efforts of quintessential '70s cinema." Bill Blick, SensesofCinema.com "Electra Glide in Blue was made during Blake's hey-day in the 70s and he's actually pretty darn good in this one, playing a by-the-book cop with dreams of carrying a detective's badge, investigating the cases no one else sees (or wants to see). Factor in some pretty spectacular cinematography (still 70s cinematography, but gorgeous nonetheless) and an intriguing tale and you have a pretty entertaining flick that can still hold the interest of this viewing audience, despite not being born when this gem graces the big screen." CalgaryMovies.com "(Electra Glide in Blue) could never be construed as written by the winners, because it maps out the dynamics of corruption too complexly and refuses to say the little man is good because he's doomed. The truth is perhaps more painful, but it's also a great deal less certain." Travis Mackenzie Hoover, Film Freak Central "One of the great-unsung films of the 1970s, Electra Glide in Blue...stands as a fine example that epitomizes a glorious, but all too brief time of filmmaking after the limitations of the studio system and the restrictions of the Hays Codes collapsed, and before political correctness and the 'blockbuster' mentality overtook modern-day Hollywood, and being real was all a filmmaker had to worry about." Chuck O'Leary, FulvueDrive-in.com "(Electra Glide in Blue) arrived at a tumultuous time when the old divisions between cowboy and Indian, black hat and white hat, and villain and hero were becoming hopelessly blurred. In keeping with the zeitgeist, it's a thriller where solving the central crime seems somewhat irrelevant: Only thinly disguised as a cop movie, Electra is a profound and ultimately tragic meditation on identity, belonging, and the fickleness of the American Dream. It circles around genres only to dismantle and reassemble them in more truthful ways." Nathan Rabin, The Onion A.V. Club "I truly love Conrad Hall's work on Electra Glide in Blue, which makes use of a lot of very long lenses and looks completely unique. Josh Becker, director Sea of Love (1989) Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Electra Glide in Blue


Not all lost movies are literally lost...some languish in studio vaults, victims less of time and tide than corporate neglect. Over the last thirty years, there has been precious little ink spilled over Electra Glide in Blue (1973), the only feature film directed by James William Guercio, and its quiet return to the world on DVD is cause for reevaluation. Starring a post-In Cold Blood (1967), pre-Baretta Robert Blake, Electra Glide in Blue is equal parts modern western, biker flick, policier and existential journey-to-self, complete with the then-requisite downer ending that, however it may echo Easy Rider's (1969) sting in the tale, still packs a punch.

Set in a dusty desert community of trailer parks, titty bars and tumbleweed ennui, Electra Glide in Blue plays like an unpublished Jim Thompson novel, with Blake's ambitious chopper cop making good at a crime scene and earning a detective grade promotion that introduces him to a new world of pain. Guercio corralled a stellar cast with supporting parts played by Mitch Ryan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Royal Dano and Billy "Green" Bush but the film's best performance comes from Jeannine Riley, former star of TV's Petticoat Junction. As a washed-up Rockette reduced to roadhouse waitressing, Riley delivers an impressive drunken monologue late in the film, turning the disappointments of her life into an interpretive dance while humiliating both Blake and Ryan. It's a tour-de-force moment, one of many in a film that has lingered too long in the shadows.

The police department of Scottsdale, Arizona disapproved of the script by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig and refused all participation, forcing the crew out into the desert to make Electra Glide in Blue. In addition, Guercio could not afford veteran cinematographer Conrad Hall, and so augmented Hall's salary with his own. According to Guercio, he made one dollar for directing Electra Glide in Blue. Because Guercio had little money for casting, many of the relatives of the cast and crew appear in bit roles, including Guercio's wife Lucy and Conrad Hall's daughter Kate. And many of the hippies in the commune scene are played by Chicago's roadies, including Bob Zemko, who died the following year.

The critical response to Electra Glide in Blue was generally mixed with most mainstream reviewers reflecting the opinion of Roger Greenspan of The New York Times: "Under different intentions, it might have made a decent grade-C Roger Corman bike movie-- though Corman has generally used more interesting directors than Guercio. It is in fact a murder mystery, in which a higher-principled Arizona motorcycle cop discovers the death of an old recluse and, against all odds, finds out who killed the man and why. Upon this slender plot is grafted lots of excess cinema, and a really unfair share of meaning." But a few critics recognized the movie's unique and original vision such as Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice who wrote, "A forgotten gout amid the spume of the American new wave, James William Guercio's 1973 Midwestern policier is a grim, ambivalent rejoinder to the generational agitprop of Easy Rider...it's a living flashback, all desert dust, arty compositions, working-class despair, and a potent sense of outlaw critical mass. The ending, echoing and overshadowing Rider's, is a masterfully appalling moment in an era chockablock with convulsions."

Producer: James William Guercio, Rupert Hitzig
Director: James William Guercio
Screenplay: Robert Boris, Rupert Hitzig
Cinematography: Conrad Hall
Film Editing: Jim Benson, Gerald B. Greenberg, John Link
Art Direction:
Music: James William Guercio
Cast: Robert Blake (Officer Wintergreen), Billy Green (Officer Davis), Mitch Ryan (Detective Harve Poole), Jeannine Riley (Jolene), Elisha Cook (Crazy Willie), Royal Dano (Coroner).
C-114m. Letterboxed.

by Richard Harland Smith

Electra Glide in Blue

Not all lost movies are literally lost...some languish in studio vaults, victims less of time and tide than corporate neglect. Over the last thirty years, there has been precious little ink spilled over Electra Glide in Blue (1973), the only feature film directed by James William Guercio, and its quiet return to the world on DVD is cause for reevaluation. Starring a post-In Cold Blood (1967), pre-Baretta Robert Blake, Electra Glide in Blue is equal parts modern western, biker flick, policier and existential journey-to-self, complete with the then-requisite downer ending that, however it may echo Easy Rider's (1969) sting in the tale, still packs a punch. Set in a dusty desert community of trailer parks, titty bars and tumbleweed ennui, Electra Glide in Blue plays like an unpublished Jim Thompson novel, with Blake's ambitious chopper cop making good at a crime scene and earning a detective grade promotion that introduces him to a new world of pain. Guercio corralled a stellar cast with supporting parts played by Mitch Ryan, Elisha Cook, Jr., Royal Dano and Billy "Green" Bush but the film's best performance comes from Jeannine Riley, former star of TV's Petticoat Junction. As a washed-up Rockette reduced to roadhouse waitressing, Riley delivers an impressive drunken monologue late in the film, turning the disappointments of her life into an interpretive dance while humiliating both Blake and Ryan. It's a tour-de-force moment, one of many in a film that has lingered too long in the shadows. The police department of Scottsdale, Arizona disapproved of the script by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig and refused all participation, forcing the crew out into the desert to make Electra Glide in Blue. In addition, Guercio could not afford veteran cinematographer Conrad Hall, and so augmented Hall's salary with his own. According to Guercio, he made one dollar for directing Electra Glide in Blue. Because Guercio had little money for casting, many of the relatives of the cast and crew appear in bit roles, including Guercio's wife Lucy and Conrad Hall's daughter Kate. And many of the hippies in the commune scene are played by Chicago's roadies, including Bob Zemko, who died the following year. The critical response to Electra Glide in Blue was generally mixed with most mainstream reviewers reflecting the opinion of Roger Greenspan of The New York Times: "Under different intentions, it might have made a decent grade-C Roger Corman bike movie-- though Corman has generally used more interesting directors than Guercio. It is in fact a murder mystery, in which a higher-principled Arizona motorcycle cop discovers the death of an old recluse and, against all odds, finds out who killed the man and why. Upon this slender plot is grafted lots of excess cinema, and a really unfair share of meaning." But a few critics recognized the movie's unique and original vision such as Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice who wrote, "A forgotten gout amid the spume of the American new wave, James William Guercio's 1973 Midwestern policier is a grim, ambivalent rejoinder to the generational agitprop of Easy Rider...it's a living flashback, all desert dust, arty compositions, working-class despair, and a potent sense of outlaw critical mass. The ending, echoing and overshadowing Rider's, is a masterfully appalling moment in an era chockablock with convulsions." Producer: James William Guercio, Rupert Hitzig Director: James William Guercio Screenplay: Robert Boris, Rupert Hitzig Cinematography: Conrad Hall Film Editing: Jim Benson, Gerald B. Greenberg, John Link Art Direction: Music: James William Guercio Cast: Robert Blake (Officer Wintergreen), Billy Green (Officer Davis), Mitch Ryan (Detective Harve Poole), Jeannine Riley (Jolene), Elisha Cook (Crazy Willie), Royal Dano (Coroner). C-114m. Letterboxed. by Richard Harland Smith

Quote It (Electra Glide in Blue) - QUOTES FROM "ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE"


"'Good morning, Pigs. Good morning, you Fascists... you honkies...you killers...you bigots...you fags...you Pinkos...you creeps... you bastards...fuzz.' This indoctrination of vocal harassment was compiled by our own Juvenile Division in preparation for the concert this weekend."

"I don't know what cracker barrel you crawled out of but I want you to crawl back in it."

"Gonna make you go back to Buckeye Road and you don't even have to thank me for it."

"Somebody gotta be doing something bad somewhere."

"We haven't got anything. There hasn't been a murder. The man shot himself and we're not interested in your pork chops, your loaves of bread or your notes."

"Did you know that me and Alan Ladd were exactly the same height, right down to the quarter inch?"

"Don't touch the badge."

"Who got a Batman, who got a Batman?"

"My dream don't cost a nickel. All I want's that brown suit, that Stetson hat. And four wheels under me instead of two. And that badge that says 'Boy, you're getting paid to think, not get calluses on your ass'."

"I only got two friends in the world. Frank and Superstition."

"When the night talks to you, you gotta listen, Wintergreen."

"I hate that motorcycle they make me ride. I'm here to tell you there ain't nothing in the world I hate worse than that elephant under my ass."

"Zipper, you got a blast furnace for a gut. You could live off beer cans and horseshoes."

"Did you know that loneliness will kill you deader than a .357 Magnum?"

"Oh man, we're gettin' cracked, man. We're gettin' cracked. I'm freakin' out."

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Quote It (Electra Glide in Blue) - QUOTES FROM "ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE"

"'Good morning, Pigs. Good morning, you Fascists... you honkies...you killers...you bigots...you fags...you Pinkos...you creeps... you bastards...fuzz.' This indoctrination of vocal harassment was compiled by our own Juvenile Division in preparation for the concert this weekend." "I don't know what cracker barrel you crawled out of but I want you to crawl back in it." "Gonna make you go back to Buckeye Road and you don't even have to thank me for it." "Somebody gotta be doing something bad somewhere." "We haven't got anything. There hasn't been a murder. The man shot himself and we're not interested in your pork chops, your loaves of bread or your notes." "Did you know that me and Alan Ladd were exactly the same height, right down to the quarter inch?" "Don't touch the badge." "Who got a Batman, who got a Batman?" "My dream don't cost a nickel. All I want's that brown suit, that Stetson hat. And four wheels under me instead of two. And that badge that says 'Boy, you're getting paid to think, not get calluses on your ass'." "I only got two friends in the world. Frank and Superstition." "When the night talks to you, you gotta listen, Wintergreen." "I hate that motorcycle they make me ride. I'm here to tell you there ain't nothing in the world I hate worse than that elephant under my ass." "Zipper, you got a blast furnace for a gut. You could live off beer cans and horseshoes." "Did you know that loneliness will kill you deader than a .357 Magnum?" "Oh man, we're gettin' cracked, man. We're gettin' cracked. I'm freakin' out." Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

In The Know (Electra Glide in Blue) - TRIVIA


Director James William Guercio was a successful music producer, specifically for the band Chicago. Many of the band members make appearances in Electra Glide in Blue.

Harley-Davidson's Electra Glide motorcycle was introduced in 1965 and was the first big Harley bike to feature electric push-button starting.

After starring in Electra Glide in Blue, Robert Blake was offered his hit television series Baretta.

Although he has acted in dozens of films, including Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Blake's costar Billy "Green" Bush is most famous for fathering twins Sidney and Lindsay Greenbush, who traded off on playing Carrie Ingalls on the long-running television series Little House on the Prairie.

Born Michael Gubitosi in 1933, Robert Blake made his first film, Wilhelm Thiele's Bridal Suite (1939), in an uncredited bit role, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. That same year, he began appearing as "Mickey" in MGM's "Our Gang" shorts.

The role of "Bob Zemko" is played by Peter Cetera, bass player and tenor vocalist for the band Chicago. Cetera's bandmates, lead singer Terry Kath, trumpeter Lee Loughnane and saxophonist Walter Parazaider appear in various small roles throughout the film.

The recording of Stephen Foster's "Gentle Annie" heard in the film's opening scene was borrowed from the soundtrack of John Ford's Stagecoach (1939).

Up and coming actor Nick Nolte appears as an extra in the hippie commune scene.

The painting seen on the screen door of Zipper's trailer is a self-portrait by actor Billy "Green" Bush.

Robert Blake once expressed his unhappiness with the title Electra Glide in Blue and wished the movie could have been called Chopper Copper.

James William Guercio was hired to direct Tom Horn (1980), starring Steve McQueen, but was fired a week into principal photography.

Sources:
NYT review
www.sensesofcinema.com
www.dvdtown.com/review
www.destgulch.com
www.dvdtimes.co.uk
einsiders.com
Psychotronic Magazine

Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

In The Know (Electra Glide in Blue) - TRIVIA

Director James William Guercio was a successful music producer, specifically for the band Chicago. Many of the band members make appearances in Electra Glide in Blue. Harley-Davidson's Electra Glide motorcycle was introduced in 1965 and was the first big Harley bike to feature electric push-button starting. After starring in Electra Glide in Blue, Robert Blake was offered his hit television series Baretta. Although he has acted in dozens of films, including Five Easy Pieces (1970) and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Blake's costar Billy "Green" Bush is most famous for fathering twins Sidney and Lindsay Greenbush, who traded off on playing Carrie Ingalls on the long-running television series Little House on the Prairie. Born Michael Gubitosi in 1933, Robert Blake made his first film, Wilhelm Thiele's Bridal Suite (1939), in an uncredited bit role, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. That same year, he began appearing as "Mickey" in MGM's "Our Gang" shorts. The role of "Bob Zemko" is played by Peter Cetera, bass player and tenor vocalist for the band Chicago. Cetera's bandmates, lead singer Terry Kath, trumpeter Lee Loughnane and saxophonist Walter Parazaider appear in various small roles throughout the film. The recording of Stephen Foster's "Gentle Annie" heard in the film's opening scene was borrowed from the soundtrack of John Ford's Stagecoach (1939). Up and coming actor Nick Nolte appears as an extra in the hippie commune scene. The painting seen on the screen door of Zipper's trailer is a self-portrait by actor Billy "Green" Bush. Robert Blake once expressed his unhappiness with the title Electra Glide in Blue and wished the movie could have been called Chopper Copper. James William Guercio was hired to direct Tom Horn (1980), starring Steve McQueen, but was fired a week into principal photography. Sources: NYT review www.sensesofcinema.com www.dvdtown.com/review www.destgulch.com www.dvdtimes.co.uk einsiders.com Psychotronic Magazine Compiled by Richard Harland Smith

Quotes

I'm gonna do for you, in six weeks, what it took someone six months to do for me: nothin'.
- John Wintergreen
TEN-HUT! Good morning, you fascists. You pigs. You bigots. You PINKOS. You FAGS! You BASTARDS. Fuzz. This indoctrination of vocal harassment was compiled by our own Juvenile Division in preparation for the concert this weekend.
- Sgt. Ryker
I need you to give me some information.
- John Wintergreen
I'll give you some information. You're standing in pigshit.
- Pig Man
Incompetence is the worst form of corruption.
- Harve Poole
There ain't nothin' I hate more in this world than that elephant under my ass.
- John Wintergreen

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States on Video April 1988

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in New York City (Film Forum) as part of program "Out of the Seventies: Hollywood's New Wave 1969-1975" May 31 - July 25, 1996.)

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1973

Released in United States on Video April 1988