Electra Glide in Blue Reviews
Through the course of our very enjoyable chat, I discovered that Eric and I share a taste in movies. He said his favourites were Grease (which, it's impossible not to love); Pulp Fiction (well, obviously); Hairspray (the original, understandably, because it's genius); Every Home Should Have One (the Marty Feldman comedy); and Electra Glide In Blue.
Now, of course, I'd heard of it, but I'd never seen Electra Glide In Blue. As luck would have it, very soon after the chat with my uncle, I was looking though the programme guide, trying to find something interesting to watch, when - would you Adam n' Eve it? - there it was, about to start! Of course, I settled down to watch.
I found the movie pretty good. The plot's thin as a cigarette paper, and some character development, especially of the protagonist, is a bit befuddling. He's shown as a good, empathic cop one minute, and the next, he lets his colleague get away with doing something that he finds morally wrong. I don't get that. This flip-flopping personality trait does have a point, but it's clumsily done.
The movie's shortcomings don't really matter, though. The way I see it, the piece is a contemplation of disillusionment and unfulfilled potential, which is rather a depressing thought, but that's nothing compared to the pay-off to the main character's earlier moral unevenness, which is thoroughly cynical and bleak.
Beautifully directed with a solid perfomance from it's acting talent, it's the dialogue that occasionally lets it down, sometimes coming across as quite primitive compared to it's otherwise high feeling production quality. Is also akward to the point of being unbearable at times, but then that's what Guercio wanted us to feel.
The story is about Vietnam Vet Johnny Wintergreen (Robert Blake), a motorcycle cop, who spends his days patrolling the roads of rural Arizona on his Harley Davidson Electra Glide. Wintergreen is a good cop who does things by the book and this is shown when he refuses to let off a fellow cop for speeding. However, unlike his lazy partner "Zipper", who spends as much time as he can reading comic books in the shade, Wintergreen has ambition and wants to be promoted to the Homicide Squad. He gets his chance to get his foot in the door when he comes across an apparent case of suicide. Unlike the coroner, Wintergreen is convinced that it's a murder. Later on detective Harve Poole from the Homicide Squad arrives and agrees with Wintergreen. He calls for an autopsy. The autopsy confirms Wintergreen's hunch, so Poole invites Wintergreen to be his driver and assist him with the murder investigation. Initially Wintergreen is ecstatic at what he sees as a life changing opportunity, but he gradually becomes disillusioned by the corrupt methods and flawed personality of Poole.
Although the film revolves around a murder investigation it's predominantly a character piece. But the story still crackles along a good pace and there aren't any flat spots.
The cinematography was a feature with the exterior scenes being shot like a western with plenty of coloured saturated shots of the Arizona desert and rolling clouds etc. The interior shots looked more 70s experimental. The soundtrack was also very solid which should be no surprise as director James William Guercio was a musician and a producer by trade(he produced Chicago's first seven albums) But what is surprising is that this is the only film Guerico ever made. He must have decided to focus on his music.
Apparently the film received a very hostile reaction at the 1973 Canne Film Festival with some people branding it fascist. I've also heard it described as conservative America's response to Easy Rider and there's one amusing scene where Wintergreen is using an Easy Rider poster for target practice.
Personally I didn't find it fascist and apparently the film was fairly well received upon its wider release.
If you enjoy classic films from the 70s you'll enjoy this. Also, lookout for the the final shot of the final scene, it's a beauty and one that'll stick with you.