First-time director James William Guercio wanted the great Conrad L. Hall to photograph this film, but Hall's salary was more than was budgeted for a cinematographer. Guercio reduced his own salary to one dollar so he could secure Hall as the cinematographer.
Peter Cetera, bassist and lead vocalist for the group Chicago, plays a character named "Bob Zemko". A character named "The Beard" is played by an actor whose real name isBob Zemko. The real Zemko was a Chicago truck driver who became famous in that city in 1969 when he saved a teenage girl from an attacker and later prevented a gang of thugs from murdering a man in the street. He died a year after making this film, which was his only movie role.
Debut theatrical feature film of James William Guercio. This picture is the only ever movie Guercio has ever made and as such is his first, final and only ever feature film [to date, March 2014]. Guercio performed a number of roles on the film: Guercio was the producer, the director and the composer.
This film was inspired by a real incident, which occurred on December 28, 1970, in Arizona. A Phoenix Police Motorcycle officer was shot off his motorcycle and killed by a man firing from the back window of a stolen camper. The murdered officer was Patrolman Albert Bluhm. The killer, who later confessed, was James D. Parle. Phoenix Police Motorcycle officer Dale Stone died in an accident responding to Officer Bluhms Emergency call.
The cover for the soundtrack album consists of one large picture, showing seven tall highway patrolmen standing in a line and a short one (Robert Blake)l in the middle of them. Exactly the same picture is hanging on the wall of the office of Capt. Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) in the TV series Hill Street Blues (1981).
The movie's title refers to the "Electra Glide" police motorbike that give's the film itsElectra Glide in Blue (1973) title. The "In Blue" phrase of the film's title is a reference to the police force (policemen wear blue uniforms). The title of the movie is also a reference to the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide series motorcycles ridden by Patrolman John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) and his partner Zipper (Billy Green Bush). During the 1970s and 1980s the Electra Glide was in fact a staple of police departments both in the US and abroad. The make and models seen in the film according to the IMCDb are 1970 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motor-bikes.
Director James William Guercio has only ever directed one feature film - this movie. Reportedly, First Artists and Warner Bros. later hired Guercio to direct the Steve McQueen western Tom Horn (1980), but Guercio allegedly got fired one week into production.
John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) carries an unusual-looking sidearm. It is actually a standard Colt Python .357 magnum with a four-inch barrel, a popular police weapon in the 1970s. Wintergreen's weapon, however, sports an unusual two-tone finish, in which the frame is blued but the cylinder and barrel are nickel-plated. This was a sort of fad in the 1970s called a Pinto finish. It was offered as a custom option in many gun stores at that time.
The film was selected to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973 where the picture was generally disliked intensely by film critics. On the DVD, directorJames William Guercio says that the Cannes reception had the film being interpreted as being a "fascist" film.
James William Guercio only became attached to the film just ten days before principal photography was to commence. Guercio received a phone call from United Artists executive David Picker who asked him if he would like to make a film.
The rendition of the Stephen Foster's popular American song "Gentle Annie" heard during the film's opening sequence was taken directly from the sound-track of John Ford's classic 1939 western Stagecoach (1939).
The film was made and released about eight years after the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide motorcycle was first introduced in 1965. This make and model was notable for being the first ever big Harley motor-bike to have an electronic push-button starter.
According to James William Guercio's DVD commentary, the majority of the movie was filmed without government permits because the Arizona State Police did not want to co-operate with the production of the film.
Director James William Guercio and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall disagreed about the look of the film. A settlement was reached. Guercio, having grown-up and been influenced by the films of John Ford, wished to shoot the exteriors with such a Fordian aesthetic. In return, Hall could should the interiors any way he liked.
First of two consecutive movies where actor Robert Blake portrayed a police officer. Blake, who plays motorcycle cop John Wintergreen in this 1973 movie, also played a policeman, Vice Detective Patrick Farrel, in his next picture, 1974's Busting (1974).
This 1973 movie and the previous 1972 year's Dirty Little Billy (1972) represent the first ever on-screen cinema movie appearances (both uncredited) of actor Nick Nolte. Reportedly, according to director James William Guercio on the DVD, Guercio wanted to give Nolte a speaking part in this film, but said the production had run out money.
United Artists executives visited the set and complained that director James William Guercio was ten days behind in the shooting schedule. To resolve this problem, Guercio ripped out ten pages of the script, dropping the whole romantic subplot between Zemko and the hippie girl character played by Melissa Greene. Reportedly, Guercio then told the UA execs words to the effect of: "There we are. Now we are on schedule!".
Producer-director-composer James William Guercio used to be producer and manager for the popular rock band Chicago as well as being a some-time songwriter for them. Guercio produced the group's first eleven albums. The band's song "Tell Me" plays over the film's closing credits. Several members of Chicago are featured as hippies in the film. Peter Cetera plays "Bob Zemko", Terry Kath is "Killer", Lee Loughnane is "Pig Man" and Walter Parazaider plays "Loose Lips".
The movie was made and released about four years after Easy Rider (1969). That movie featured two hippies crossing America on motor-bikes. Electra Glide in Blue(1973) is considered to be a form of motor-cycle cop version of Easy Rider (1969) with a poster from that earlier movie classic even displayed in one scene in this film.