Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Electra polices "Easy Rider"
Cleveland Press October 1, 1973
"Electra Glide in Blue" is an "Easy Rider" with motorcycle cops.
It also is the first movie effort by producer-director William Guercio, a composer, musician and successful rock record producer (Blood, Sweat and Tears, and currently Chicago).
Like much of modern pop music the picture tends to be free-wheeling to the point of formlessness, and has flashes of brilliance that get lost in periods of self-indulgence.
The pictures brief plot has been pulled and stretched to fill a movie that is far too long for its material. It is padded with bravura camera tricks, side trips into inconsequential moments, lingering over characters who explain themselves at length and then explain themselves again.
Outside of television, commercials and the field of micro-photography, seldom has the camera concentrated on small objects while ignoring the total scene to such great extent.
The viewer is overwhelmed with screen filling images of belt buckles and jacket zippers. Finally, after exhausting intervals, the camera may get around to a face.
The setting is Arizona and the main character is John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) a short, tough motorcycle cop who dreams about advancing to the rank of detective so he can wear fancy clothes.
The way to gain that promotion is to solve a murder. When an old man is found dead in his desert shack, an apparent suicide, Wintergreen battles like a fighting rooster to protect and prove his murder case.
The story is told in sharp, sudden flashes; vignettes that have a fantasy-like feel to them, so much so, that the viewer may wonder if he is watching a connected narrative.
Others in the picture are Wintergreen's buddy, a violence prone individual who reads comic books, hassles hippies, and figures riding a bike and collecting his pay make a pretty good life. Wintergreen has a girl friend who is friendly with others as well, who delivers a lengthy, tearful speech about her shattered show business dreams.
And there is Wintergreen's sullied hero, the homicide detective whose arrogance and brutality mask a lack of virility.
The picture has a few virtues. One of them is Blake offering a fine mixture of cheerfulness and toughness, whose defensive attitude about his lack of height offers some of the picture's best comedy moments. Also an asset to the film are occasionally bright bits of dialog; sharp, unexpected lines.
But these are not enough to keep the film together. Even after the movie has logically ended it goes on and on. The ending is right out of "Easy Rider."
And as though theft from that film were not enough the scene is shot in Monument Valley, the identifying locale for many of the late John Fords westerns.