You probably have to be a bloke of
a certain age to recognise the name James William Guercio. But if you take a
look at his life as reported by Wikipedia this is a man of many talents who
seems to have been consistently in the right place at the right time.
If you were around in the late
sixties you may have tangentially come across him as the producer of Blood Sweat & Tears and Chicago's early albums (for the pedants
among us Chicago Transit Authority –
until the ‘real’ Chicago Transit Authority challenged their right to the name,
thus leading to a convenient shortening).
In fact, Mr Guercio astutely
steered Chicago’s career as far as
that saccharine sweet ballad, If You
Leave Me Now, which you will now have stuck in your head. However,
the reason for singling him out here is for his endeavour in a different medium
Revisiting films you saw way, way
back is almost as dangerous as picking up books that hold a special place in
your memory. So when I saw that Electra
Glide in Blue was available on DVD I was torn – would it still
stand up? Or would I be destroying a cherished part of my formative years?
Released in 1973, Electra Glide . . . starred Robert Blake
as a motorcycle cop in Arizona and Billy Green Bush as his partner. The name
stems from the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle issued to traffic cops
at the time.
Filmed in Monument Valley and similarly
stunning surrounds, this was one of only two James William Guercio films (the
second also starred Robert Blake, who you may have seen in the film of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood). I must have
been one of very few people who saw Electra
Glide . . . when it came out because it appears to have assumed cult status
ie it didn’t make any money.
As a kind of reverse ‘road movie’
I’m pleased to report it does indeed stand up and my admiration for James
William Guercio now bows to no man’s.