Electra Glide in Blue (1973)

PG | 106 or 110 mins | Drama | September 1973

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HISTORY

According to an Apr 1975 Box item, in 1975 the film was retitled The Legend of Big John . Electra Glide in Blue marked the directing debut of musician-producer James William Guercio. A Sep 1973 DV article indicated that numerous printed reports suggested that director of photography Conrad Hall had been responsible for directing the bulk of the picture. Hall denied the reports, insisting that Guercio directed the film and was "the one who made the final decisions on what was up there on the screen." Although the Var review lists Michael Butler as a co-screenwriter, a May 1973 Var item indicates that the final onscreen credits for the screenplay was determined by WGA arbitration. Making their acting debuts in Electra Glide in Blue were Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider, members of the pop-rock group Chicago, which Guercio managed from 1968 to 1978. The film was shot on location in Phoenix, Carefree, Tucson and Monument Valley ... More Less

According to an Apr 1975 Box item, in 1975 the film was retitled The Legend of Big John . Electra Glide in Blue marked the directing debut of musician-producer James William Guercio. A Sep 1973 DV article indicated that numerous printed reports suggested that director of photography Conrad Hall had been responsible for directing the bulk of the picture. Hall denied the reports, insisting that Guercio directed the film and was "the one who made the final decisions on what was up there on the screen." Although the Var review lists Michael Butler as a co-screenwriter, a May 1973 Var item indicates that the final onscreen credits for the screenplay was determined by WGA arbitration. Making their acting debuts in Electra Glide in Blue were Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider, members of the pop-rock group Chicago, which Guercio managed from 1968 to 1978. The film was shot on location in Phoenix, Carefree, Tucson and Monument Valley Arizona. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
10 Sep 1973
p. 4622.
Box Office
7 Apr 1975.
---
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1973.
---
Daily Variety
7 Sep 1973.
---
Filmfacts
1973
pp. 97-100.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 1972
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1972
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 1973
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
31 Aug 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Aug 1973.
---
New York Times
20 Aug 1973
p. 21.
Newsweek
10 Sep 1973.
---
Time
10 Sep 1973.
---
Variety
23 May 1973.
---
Variety
30 May 1973.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir, The Chase
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, The Chase
Cam op
Cam op, The Chase
Cam op, The Chase
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst, The Chase
Cam asst, The Chase
Gaffer
Key grip
Key grip, The Chase
Best boy
Best boy, The Chase
Still photog
Still photog, The Chase
Still photog, Monument Valley 8x10 winter shots
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Prod illustrator
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus orchestrated by
Mus ed
Mus mixer
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Prod sd mixer, The Chase
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom man
Boom man, The Chase
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff, The Chase
Title des
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Scr supv, The Chase
Scr consultant
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst, The Chase
Auditor
Prod secy
Casting
Tech adv
Transportation capt
Cam cars
Driver capt, The Chase
First aid, The Chase
STAND INS
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt rider
Stunt coord
Stunt coord, The Chase
SOURCES
SONGS
"Most of All," words and music Alan Freed and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Marcels, Arc Music, BMI
"Meadow Mountain Top" and "Son Of Sad Bottles," words and music by Mark Spoelstra, performed by Mark Spoelstra, Athena Music BMI
"Free from the Devil," by Alan De Carlo, performed by Madura, Big Elk Music, ASCAP
+
SONGS
"Most of All," words and music Alan Freed and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Marcels, Arc Music, BMI
"Meadow Mountain Top" and "Son Of Sad Bottles," words and music by Mark Spoelstra, performed by Mark Spoelstra, Athena Music BMI
"Free from the Devil," by Alan De Carlo, performed by Madura, Big Elk Music, ASCAP
an "Tell Me," words and music by James William Guercio, Big Elk Music, ASCAP.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1973
Premiere Information:
World premiere at Cannes Film Festival: 12 May 1973
New York opening: 19 August 1973
Filmex screening: 29 August 1973
Production Date:
mid February--late April 1972 in Arizona
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
17 July 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42802
Physical Properties:
Sound
Todd-AO
Color
DeLuxe
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
106 or 110
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Just outside of Monument Valley, Arizona, Vietnam War Marine veteran John Wintergreen, a highway patrolman, joins his partner, Zipper Davis, patrolling lone desert roads on their Electra Glide motorcycles. Although John, who has requested a transfer three times in hopes of rising to detective, finds the work dreary and unchallenging, he nevertheless remains dedicated to enforcing freeway restrictions, while the indifferent Zipper declares that his only goal is to save enough money to buy a fancy motorbike. One afternoon, the partners stop a Volkswagen bus painted in psychedelic colors and Zipper, bored and hostile to the hippie driver, goes so far as to plant marijuana on the driver in order to make an arrest. Although disagreeing with his partner’s action, John remains silent. Later the men find Willie, a local old man, wandering in the desert far from his rundown shack, insisting that his roommate, Frank, is dead. When the patrolmen investigate, John suspects the apparent shotgun suicide is actually a murder and makes copious notes that the police coroner later ignores. After detective Harve Poole concurs that the death requires an investigation, he assigns John to be his new driver and vows to make him the next best investigator in the state. Elated to shed his patrolman uniform for a detective business suit, John joins Harve at a bar where Harve introduces him to the “winners circle” of police detectives and cautions him about the “police genocide” currently being enacted by a law-hating public. The next day, John and Harve question Willie at a rest home and the old man reveals that Frank, who had begun inviting young people to the shack, was ... +


Just outside of Monument Valley, Arizona, Vietnam War Marine veteran John Wintergreen, a highway patrolman, joins his partner, Zipper Davis, patrolling lone desert roads on their Electra Glide motorcycles. Although John, who has requested a transfer three times in hopes of rising to detective, finds the work dreary and unchallenging, he nevertheless remains dedicated to enforcing freeway restrictions, while the indifferent Zipper declares that his only goal is to save enough money to buy a fancy motorbike. One afternoon, the partners stop a Volkswagen bus painted in psychedelic colors and Zipper, bored and hostile to the hippie driver, goes so far as to plant marijuana on the driver in order to make an arrest. Although disagreeing with his partner’s action, John remains silent. Later the men find Willie, a local old man, wandering in the desert far from his rundown shack, insisting that his roommate, Frank, is dead. When the patrolmen investigate, John suspects the apparent shotgun suicide is actually a murder and makes copious notes that the police coroner later ignores. After detective Harve Poole concurs that the death requires an investigation, he assigns John to be his new driver and vows to make him the next best investigator in the state. Elated to shed his patrolman uniform for a detective business suit, John joins Harve at a bar where Harve introduces him to the “winners circle” of police detectives and cautions him about the “police genocide” currently being enacted by a law-hating public. The next day, John and Harve question Willie at a rest home and the old man reveals that Frank, who had begun inviting young people to the shack, was likely killed for the $5,000 he had stashed there. On the way to investigate the shack, Harve tells John to learn to listen to his inner voice as the best way to solve crimes. At the shack, Harve explains that they are looking for something that does not belong in the setting and, finding a pristine statue of the Virgin Mary, breaks it and discovers it is packed with illegal narcotics. When an examination of fingerprints in the shack reveals those of recently paroled drug dealer Bob Zemko, Harve declares the dealer is likely the murderer and thief of the missing $5,000. Visiting a nearby hippie commune, Harve sends John inside where he politely asks about Zemko and, after receiving no answers, thanks the group then reports to Harve. Dubious, Harve then roughly questions the group of hippies, striking several and choking one young man in a headlock until a young woman admits she has seen Zemko. Later that evening, Harve takes John to a closed bar where he introduces him to his girl friend Jolene, unaware that she and John have been having an affair. Bitter about her failed career as a show girl, the drunken Jolene mocks Harve and reveals her relationship with John, praising his sexual abilities in the face of Harve’s impotence. On the drive back to Harve’s home, the stunned detective insists that Jolene’s drunken rambles were lies, then explodes at John for sleeping with her and demands that he tell no one of her accusations. John is immediately sent back to patrol duty and a day or two later, he and Zipper follow a group of motorcyclists heading into the neighboring town. When John recognizes Zemko, the police give chase and in the ensuing pursuit several bikers are injured in crashes. When Zemko continues to evade the patrolmen, a frustrated Zipper takes aim at him with his pistol, but John kicks over his partner’s bike, then forces Zemko to drive through the window of a diner. At police headquarters, when Zemko refuses to tell Harve and John how he came to be carrying $1,000, Harve threatens to beat him up in a manner that will leave no outward bruising. Uneasy with John’s presence, however, Harve sends Zemko away. After working security duty at a large rock concert, John reflects that he should act on his instincts about Frank’s murder. Returning to Willie and Frank’s shack, John gently approaches the old man and asks him if he killed Frank. Relieved to be able to confess, Willie explains that after being friends with Frank since World War II, he was dismayed when Frank abandoned him to make friends with several young people. Acknowledging Willie’s loneliness and assuring him of his worth, John promises to visit him wherever the authorities place him. Later, after Willie is taken away under arrest, Harve arrives and questions John, who says he concluded that Frank only started dealing drugs to make friends and that Willie reacted out of simple jealousy. Unconcerned whether Frank really ever had $5,000 or not, John accuses Harve of using brutality and intimidation for selfish reasons rather than truly considering the facts in the case. The next morning, John visits Zipper at his dilapidated, tiny RV home and when his drunken partner displays a shiny, new, chrome-covered motorcycle, John realizes that Zipper stole Frank’s money. Appalled that Zipper would have let Zemko go to jail for the theft, John berates him, but Zipper justifies himself by claiming he has no hope working in the dead-end, thankless, low-paying job of a highway patrolman. Knowing the principled John will turn him in, Zipper drunkenly pulls his gun and fires at John from close range. Pleading with his friend to stop, John draws his gun after Zipper fires a third time, and shoots him. Some time later John patrols the barren desert alone and stops a speeding, psychedelic-colored van. Recognizing the driver from his license as the man he stopped earlier, John lets the man and his friend go. Realizing that he has forgotten to return the man’s license, John speeds after them on his Electra Glide, but fearful of being searched, the driver’s partner shoots John, who dies on the barren desert highway. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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