A western with motorcycles in lieu of horses. A right wing response to Easy Rider. The most beautiful b-movie ever shot. Electra Glide In Blue can be called a number of things, but it can’t be called boring.
In his one and only turn as a film director, music producer James William Guercio allegedly took a one dollar salary for his director rate so that he could afford to hire legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall. The film is absolutely gorgeous.
The movie succeeds in delivering a compelling character study of John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) as an Arizona motorcycle cop aspiring to be detective, but is not as successful in hammering down on a consistent tone. Guercio unintentionally creates a genre exercise that is part John Ford film, part melodrama, and part 70’s exploitation film.
The soundtrack does nothing to taper those flights of fancy. At the time Guercio was best known as the producer for the band Chicago (thus explaining the cameos by Peter Cetera and co.) and he seemingly couldn’t help himself from throwing the kitchen sink at the soundtrack, which he helped score. There are Byrds inspired country-folk ballads courtesy of Mark Spoelstra, a few Shaft-influenced cuts that could fit into the Blue Note Rare Groove Series, and a good amount of dialogue from the film. Nonetheless, like the movie, it’s a pretty fun ride.
“Overture,” written and produced by Guercio, opens like a Sergio Leone spaghetti western that eventually just builds into what sounds like the open to every network TV action show in the 70s.
“Tell Me,” also written by Guercio, but sung by Chicago guitarist Terry Kath, is an over the top ballad that acts as the exclamation to the dramatic final scene of the movie. Kath channeling Ray Charles croons about America and mankind in what is either sincerely earnest or very jingoist attempt to drive a point home.
Overture – James Williams Guercio
Tell Me – Terry Kath