Electra Glide in Blue (1973)

Electra Glide in Blue
Directed by James William Guercio
Written by Robert Boris based on a story by Robert Boris and Rupert Hitzig
(number 431)

Jarrod and I watched this on a Thursday night right after he arrived in Auckland. It’s a cop movie…but it’s a 70s cop movie, which means it’s full of long slow pans across the desert, funk music and dubious treatment of hippies, women and black people. Actually there was pretty much no black people in there, but characters did use the n word.

Starring Robert Blake as a very short but very self assured cop who is straight and narrow in a world where all the other cops were willing to be a bit or a lot corrupt. John Wintergreen, who is always referred to by his full name, apparently, even gives a speeding ticket to an L.A. detective, so we know how very by the book he is. The story is mostly a mystery, John is so keen to be in homicide he gets involved in a seeming suicide and partners up with rugged mentor detective Harv Poole. It’s all a little Life on Mars-ish with Harv being totally fine with beating information out of people and John concerned more with the actual truth.

It’s gorgeously shot, beautiful images of the highway and the desert and it made me want to drive in America quite a lot. I also dug the soundtrack quite a lot, nice mix of rock, country and funk. I wonder how I could track down the soundtrack… heh.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah, it’s hard not to be on the side of the good cop after all. I actually really liked Zipper, although he was a bit awful at his job he was a total geek.
Jarrod reckons he was sympathetic to John but disappointed that he didn’t do more to fight the corruption of his partners. There’s a drug planting scene with a hippy and John just kind of disapproves and lets it happen. The character set up at the start of the movie was astounding though, showing John exercising and having a lot of sex with a very happy/satisfied Jolene. And the camera never shows his whole face until he’s suited up in his highway patrol uniform. It was very cool.

Bechdel test: Nope. We had one named woman, Jolene, and she had plenty of lines but they were only to men. There were also some unnamed hippy women and a woman police officer, but if they spoke it was only to the men.

Best line: Every time someone referred to the main character by his full name. You could make an amazingly rough drinking game by taking a drink every time you hear ‘Wintergreen’.

John Wintergreen: I think I’ll go over and check out the Black Canyon.
Zipper: Aww, there ain’t no action over there!
John Wintergreen: Zipper, that’s the story of your life… there ain’t no action, at no time, at no place… I’ll see you later. Somebody’s gotta be doing something bad somewhere!

also Zipper’s continual insistence on doing nothing and staying in the shade. Unless there’s ice cream. Or women.

State of Mind: Overall it was pretty good, it wasn’t too slow, the mystery was pretty twisty and I didn’t guess it all. That said, I’m not going to rush to watch it again and I suspect that there’s better examples of the genre out there. Jarrod was less impressed than I.

Watched movie count


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