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Electra Glide in Blue

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That Guercio never made another movie is a shame, because so much of Electra Glide in Blue — an opening shot of the highway cutting through the Arizona desert, the introduction of the motorcycle-cop protagonist in full uniform, the haunting final minutes — reveal a keen eye for composition.

Two years away from TV's Baretta, Robert Blake stars as John Wintergreen, who dreams of trading his helmet and Harley for a job in the homicide division. He gets his big break when a local hermit is discovered dead; the lazy coroner (Royal Dano, Big Bad Mama) considers it a suicide, but Wintergreen's gut tells him murder.

Guercio is not overly concerned with the crime, choosing to explore the theme of loneliness under the guise of a modern Western. (The gorgeous outdoor cinematography of the legendary Conrad Hall helps sell that.) Thus, the mystery is easily solved; the action primarily confined to one chase sequence; and viewers are rewarded with a full character study as the story seeps from the episodic to the existential.

It's the greatest work I've seen Blake do. Because of his personal and legal troubles, we forget how good of an actor he was; let Electra's Blu-ray debut from Shout! Factory serve as an indelible reminder.

The disc includes a commentary from Guercio, in addition to a nine-minute introduction. It should be labeled as an afterword, because it's rife with spoilers. —Rod Lott

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