19 April 2010

A Man's Movie: Electra Glide in Blue

Keep away from impressionable 13 year old boys

In 1973 (or was it '74?), I was knocked out by an obscure movie for the second time in my short life. Certainly Electra Glide in Blue kicked started me into law enforcement but more importantly it introduced me to the adult world of bullshit.

Robert Blake's, John Wintergreen is a motorcycle cop who longs for a detective's badge telling his buddy, Zipper, "I hate that motorcycle they make me ride. I'm here to tell you there's nothing I hate worse than that elephant under my ass."

Zipper (Billy Green Bush) is his pal on the force who's only too happy to avoid the heat and any taxation of his mind unless it presents itself as female. Zipper reminds me of 90% of the folks I worked with in law enforcement. Wintergreen gets a shot at a promotion by driving for a blow hard detective (Mitch Ryan as Harve Poole) who can't shut up and who, we later learn, can't get it up for his bartender girlfriend Jolene played by Jeannine Riley who screams 70's tight jeans and halter tops.

When someone is all knowing - - it's usually because they don't know anything. The guy to listen to is always the guy who isn't talking. And it's usually best just to watch him. John Wintergreen is able to see the detective for what he is - incompetent. He calls him on it resulting in his getting sent straight back to the elephant culminating in a surprising ending over what may be the longest credit roll in cinema history.

The story is... who cares about the story. It's a Man's Movie and men don't give a pooh about story. This is about characters and images that stun to me to this day. From the opening credits to the scenes of Monument Valley...it's nothing short of an opera. DP'ed by Conrad Hall (check out, 'Tell Them Who You Are') and produced by James William Guercio (Chicago & The Beach Boys) who also authored it's haunting score, it is one of the great and sadly overlooked pictures of the 70's.


Giuseppe said...

The first time I stumbled across this movie on cable t.v., the soon-to-be-Mrs. G watched it with me for about ten minutes before saying "If you're gonna watch this I'm going to bed."

I, of course, was absolutely enthralled. A man's movie indeed.

Cathleen said...

This sounds like my kind of thing.

Josh R said...

Wow -- love the album cover

Anonymous said...

Mum's the word.

Billy Jack next?


tintin said...

G- That's what a Man's Movie is all about. The Ultimate Man's Movie is coming next week. Never met a woman who didn't hate it.

Cath- I'm warning you. Back away from the Man's Movie.

Josh- There's a ton of 'em on eBay.

Tater- Billy Jack is a chick movie.

Anonymous said...

Jim Guercio, once a record producer of Blood Sweat and Tears and according to Michael Lindsay Hogg in his recent memoir "the oddest man in Hollywood...handsome, not tall, needing eyeglasses liking cowboy boots Republican by nature, Democrat by vote...kind, generous, funny ...didnt smoke drug or drink, had an 18 year old girlfriend whom he later married. I knew Guercio slightly in the early 80s and agree completely. After ELECTRA GLIDE Steve McQueen hired him to direct TOM HORN based on the script by Tom McGuane. It was to be an epic starting with HOrns childhood in Pennsylvania and Missouri. McGuanes research into Horn was epic itself. Anyway Guercio began the picture and was fired about halfway through. McQueen chopped out most of what Guercio had filmed, had the script re written and so on...Guercio had other later projects that never saw light...a biography of Bob Wills with Jack Nicholson, script by Tom McGuane; a movie about Custer again written by McGuane (Guercio's interest in Custer was bottomless); and the movie THE BORDER which he at time planned to do with Robert Blake. He and Blake went so far as to rent an RV and travel the border both for locations and a search for the tone for the movie. Eventually Guercio lost interest in the movie business and got involved in oil shale exploration. Davis@davistraneurope@hotmail.com