'Electra Glide in Blue' *** 051305
DVD Review (1973)

The Work =***
'Electra Glide in Blue' is one of those cult films that has been given a recent release on DVD. No doubt the big reason for that is the trial of Robert Blake bringing a huge swarm of attention around the man. His films suddenly gained a resurgence in popularity and now movies like 'EGIB' get a release because he starred in it. I have not seen that much of Blake’s work but I have now seen this film as well as some episodes of his 70’s TV series 'Barretta'.

What I have come away with is the appreciation of the skills of Robert Blake’s acting ability. I suspect, had the man been able to somehow keep his personal demons under control he would have had a bigger career and been more appreciated as an actor today. The thing is, he is incredibly good. Blake started in child acting as one of 'The Little Rascals' and his childhood as a young star was reportedly filled with abuse and mistreatment. As an adult star he was able to often rise above the material he was surrounded by (like some of the cheesiness in 'Barretta'.)

Here, in 'EGIB' he is surrounded by a somewhat muddled script, a talented director and the sure handedness of cinematographer Conrad Hall. The result is an entertaining if not somewhat unsatisfactory neo western. Blake plays a motorcycle cop in the dessert that desperately wants to be a detective, the trouble is, he seems too honest. Sometimes his honesty gets him an in, as when he stands firm that a crime scene is a murder and not a suicide. Sometimes his honesty gets him knocked down, as when he gets browbeaten for not strong arming and abusing a group of hippies.

This film supposedly had a reputation as being a fascist sort of anti hippie flic. Looking at the film now I can sort of see how someone could make that interpretation but I don’t agree with it. Actually it seems somewhat surprising considering the poor light it paints the police in. The film shows the dark side of law enforcement. Where the fascism comes in is the hippies in the film don’t exactly get the best treatment either.

I must say, where it not for Blake at the center I’m not sure the film would be as easy to watch as it is. Blake’s somewhat bumbling short motorcycle cop almost instantly became someone I identified with. He has an almost innocent charm in the film and simply seems to be trying to be honest in a world that won’t let him.

SPOILER WARNING: I will say that while I found the ending shot of the film moving, I found it as the end of the film, a little flat. I’m not sure exactly what is supposed to be meant by it. I suppose it is about someone who lives and dies for their beliefs. It was Officer Wintergreen’s honesty that ultimately got him killed. The irony is, had he been corrupt he probably would have been promoted and lived longer. In that regard it is somewhat similar to ' Serpico'. END OF SPOILERS

In the end, I found 'EGIB' to be an enjoyable drama. It is a pretty looking film and has a great performance at its center. James Guerico, in his only film as director, shows he has skill behind the camera and he was lucky to work with people like Blake and Hall who also help this film shine. It is not one of my favorite films but I can definitely see why it has a following. I say I give it a moderate recommendation.

DVD = ***

The Look
'EGIB' gets a good 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture looked good to me. Conrad Hall’s cinematography looks great here and it is nice to see MGM give it a decent transfer.

The Sound
You know for an older cult film the picture and sound are pretty darn good. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. The music, effects and dialogue all sounded good to me. There are also Spanish and French soundtracks as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

The Bonus
There’s the film’s trailer. There is also an introduction and commentary by Guerico. The introduction is especially good while the commentary is on the dry side. The intro is actually the most interesting of the two but it is nice that Guerico got to do a commentary track on his lone directorial effort. It’s too bad MGM couldn’t get someone else to do the commentary with Guerico and/ or turned the intro into more of a full documentary.

All Together = ***
'EGIB' has a solid performance, great cinematography and good direction. It’s story seemed a little spacey’ to me and as a whole I thought the film was enjoyable but not one of my favorites. It has its following and there are those who definitely love it. The curious should probably give it a rental first. 'EGIB' gets a moderate recommendation.


'Electra Glide in Blue' Links:


Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.