Robert Blake (later to star in TV cop series Baretta) is John Wintergreen – a diminutive Vietnam vet motorcycle cop in a desert state whose pint-sized stature makes him a laughing stock (he justifies his tough-guy act by claiming to be the exact same height as Alan Ladd).
Patrolling the empty dusty highways of Arizona on his gleaming bike, however, he dreams of making it as a big detective and spies a chance when he gets involved on the edge of a murder case after an old recluse is killed.
Increasingly hazy, funny, violent and bleak, Electra Glide In Blue moves from black comedy toward something like a smaller, fuzzier, flakier forerunner to movies like Chinatown (1974).
Like those movies, solving the central crime is never really the point, as the film becomes a muggy meditation on the State of America in the Nixon era, with cinematographer Conrad Hall shooting the dwarfing, resonant landscapes of Monument Valley in a way that would have pleased John Ford.
Director James William Guercio was producer, manager and sometime songwriter for MOR legends Chicago, who are glimpsed in concert shots in the movie.
Electra Glide In Blue was never a hit. In 1973, the hippy audience it was aimed at just couldn’t get their heads around a film that asked them to root for a damned cop. But Blake’s little Wintergreen is a real hero, just waiting to be rediscovered.
“He’s a good cop . . . on a big bike . . . on a bad road!”
Billy Green Bush
Elisha Cook Jr
James William Guercio