friday classic film blogging

Electra Glide in Blue. (1973.) Directed by James William Guerico. Written by Robert Boris. Starring Robert Blake, Billy Green Bush, Mitch Ryan, Jeanine Riley, Royal Dano, Hawk Wolinksi, Peter Cetera.

Via Patrick's July review:

A really captivating vision of the fallout of the 1960's and the conflict between the underground youth movement and the establishment, here represented by a few motorcycle cops and detectives caught up investigating the murder of a loner. Robert Blake plays the ambitious cop who comes across the body and wants to use it to springboard his career into homicide but he's checked at every side by his naivety, by an establishment that's far more rigid than he imagined, and by an underground that doesn't want him, no matter how sympathetic he may be to their ideals. It's like the film takes "the Man" and draws him from the point of view of the underground, while not really taking either side. Only Blake is a truly sympathetic character - his associates range from arrogant to mean-spirited to engaging in real abuses of power while the hippies and other normal folks he comes into contact with lie, steal, and murder or are simply crazy. Filmmaking is really stylistically dynamic, with one of the greatest closing sequences I've ever seen - major props to cinematographer Conrad Hall for his work here. It's a shame that James William Guercio never made another film - this is a remarkably strong and assured directorial debut, but I guess that managing the group Chicago just as they were taking off commercially (singer Peter Cetera is great here in a small role as a drug-dealing hippie) had to swallow up a lot of time and probably didn't allow for the rigors of filmmaking. Anyway, really interesting, especially in its immediately post-Woodstock (and more importantly, post-Altamont) look at the counter culture. Helps give a possible (and plausible) explanation to Peter Fonda's enigmatic "We blew it" from Easy Rider.

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