James William Guercio, anyone?

Posted by Guy Pringle, 21st December 2010

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 entirely.

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.




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