Electra Glide in Blue
Genre movies were pretty ’heady’ in the 70s, for lack of a better term -- few more so than "Electra Glide in Blue." Robert Blake stars in this sun-drenched curio, which is a post-"Dirty Harry" ditty that turns vigilante thrills upside down. But this isn’t another re-wiring of exploitation standards, as Shout! Factory’s last release, "Rolling Thunder," was. No, "Electra Glide" is about the road, not about the meaninglessness of the destination. Like "Easy Rider," like "Bonnie & Clyde," and like all the other era-defining films it takes its cues from, the film is openly existential, perhaps even too much so.
The Blu-ray offers better-than-respectable video quality that is notably filmic and much more detailed and stark than the washed-out transfer featured on the DVD I rented a few years ago. And Shout! includes a number of extras, revolving around first-and-only-time director James William Guercio, who to this day doesn’t have another IMDB credit. Along with the trailer, you get a 10-minute interview with Guercio, who spends most of the time name-dropping his film’s primary influence, John Ford.
There’s also a feature-length commentary with Guercio, where his (perhaps over-) intense focus on the film’s visuals becomes clear. He talks about giving up his entire fee as director to use the money, instead, to hire cinematographer Conrad Hall, and admires the long shots of the film, even when he admits the lack of coverage was more of a budgetary matter than an artistic concern. It’s, as it often is, telling. Blake’s struggle from iconoclast cop to idealist detective and back again is beautiful to look at, but hardly rendered with anything resembling internal detail. But the looks are more than enough to vibe on and the direction strong enough to keep your attention, if not precise enough to truly impress. If Guercio had stuck around, he may have become the iconoclast himself.
"Electra Glide in Blue"