Electra Glide In Blue James William Guercio

Electra Glide In Blue James William Guercio
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The best decision music producer James William Guercio made when preparing his first and only film, Electra Glide In Blue, was to agree to cut his director's fee to one dollar in order to procure the services of renowned cinematographer Conrad Hall. A pseudo-western with motorcycles instead of horses, set against the backdrop of the Arizona desert, it's distinguished by its striking imagery, even as the thin story struggles to maintain interest. In the role that led directly to his later success in Baretta, Robert Blake is John Wintergreen, a cop that may be short in stature, but has a strict moral code and ambitions of being promoted to detective. His partner, Zippy (Billy Green Bush), is almost the exact opposite; he's lazy and not above planting drugs on a hippie he pulls over. As luck would have it, John gets his shot when he stumbles upon the murder of an old hermit and pairs with slick detective Harve Poole (Mitch Ryan). This doesn't exactly pan out as expected though, when things are complicated by a woman (Jeannine Riley) in a plot thread hampered by the fact that Guercio ripped out ten pages of the script while shooting to save time. There is also a long chase scene with the cops pursuing some dirt bikers, a fight with a whole commune of hippies and a concert that inexplicably ends with John spilling his heart to an old janitor silently eating a sandwich in an empty stadium. All of this without even mentioning an overdramatic performance by veteran character actor Elisha Cook Jr. that would be better suited to a different movie. It would all amount to next to nothing if not for the fine work by Hall behind the camera, expertly juxtaposing the wide shots of the vast landscape in exterior scenes with tight close-ups when indoors to capture the feel of an old John Ford classic. Aside from an introduction with the director, in which he professes his love for westerns from an early age, the supplemental materials also include a commentary track from Guercio that's rife with long pauses. He does manage to tell a few stories from the set, but at one point pretty much admits defeat by declaring after a particularly pregnant silence, "I don't know what to say, I'm not very good at this." If the movie, as he insists rather pretentiously, "speaks for itself," then perhaps it would have been best to forego a commentary track altogether. (Shout! Factory)