Bored with his highway traffic duties, Arizona motorcycle patrolman John Wintergreen is assigned to Homicide where his polite investigative style irks his macho boss.


Robert Boris (screenplay), Robert Boris (story) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Blake ... John Wintergreen
Billy Green Bush ... Zipper (as Billy 'Green' Bush)
Mitchell Ryan ... Harve Poole
Jeannine Riley ... Jolene
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Willie (as Elisha Cook)
Royal Dano ... Coroner
Hawk Wolinski Hawk Wolinski ... VW Bus Driver (as David J. Wolinski)
Peter Cetera ... Bob Zemko
Terry Kath Terry Kath ... Killer
Lee Loughnane ... Pig Man
Walter Parazaider ... Loose Lips
Joe Samsil Joe Samsil ... Sgt. Ryker
Jason Clark Jason Clark ... L.A. Detective
Michael Butler ... Truck Driver
Susan Forristal Susan Forristal ... Ice Cream Girl


A short Arizona motorcycle cop gets his wish and is promoted to Homicide following the mysterious murder of a hermit. He is forced to confront his illusions about himself and those around him in order to solve the case, eventually returning to solitude in the desert. Written by Martin H. Booda <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's A Good Cop. On A Big Bike. On A Bad Road. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


James William Guercio was a very successful record producer (The Buckinghams, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago). Several members of Chicago appeared in cameos: Peter Cetera as Bob Zemko; Terry Kath as Killer; Lee Loughnane as Pig Man; Walter Parazaider as Loose Lips. See more »


The pool table that "Zipper" falls off of and tips on its side, is righted in the overhead shot after he is killed by John. See more »


John Wintergreen: I hate that motorcycle they make me ride. I'm here to tell you there ain't nothing in the world I hate worse than that elephant under my ass.
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Alternate Versions

John Wintergreen is called John Winterberg in the German version. See more »


Referenced in Terminal City: Episode #1.2 (2005) See more »


Tell Me
Written by James William Guercio
Sung by Terry Kath (uncredited)
Big Elk Music ASCAP
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User Reviews

Criminally obscure film has more to offer than 90% of modern day fare.
17 January 2005 | by Poseidon-3See all my reviews

Before he found himself on the wrong side of a murder investigation, Blake was noted for playing an unconventional cop on the TV show "Baretta" (and also the flip side as a brutal killer in the film "In Cold Blood".) Here he is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole as a California Highway Patrolman with dreams of more. At 5'4", he is a full head shorter than the shortest of his fellow motorcycle-riding fellow officers. Though his cohort Bush balances his days between sitting on his bike reading comic books and listening to the radio with pulling over anyone even remotely suspicious, Blake yearns to be a better cop than that and, ultimately, a detective. When (after a thoroughly gripping opening sequence) a man is found shot to death, Blake seizes the opportunity to piece the situation together and becomes the driver and right hand man to hotshot detective Ryan. As the pair attempts to solve the mystery of the man's death, their faults, attributes and insecurities are laid bare (notably in an extended scene with Riley, a barmaid who has known both men for a long time.) Finally, the truth of the death comes to light, but only after significant turmoil, carnage and some surprises. Blake is terrific in the lead. He perfectly captures the awkwardness mixed with ambition of his character. He has many memorable scenes, more than a few of which that poke fun at his size (though he was in great physical shape at the time.) Bush lends strong support as his rather amoral buddy. Ryan is splendidly authoritarian and paints a memorable portrait of a man who is a big shot (especially in his own mind) every time and everywhere except when it counts. He is perfect in the role. Cook has a very showy and effective role as a mentally challenged old man who discovers the body. Riley is effective in her sleazy, but sympathetic role, but her big scene does seem out of place somehow and shifts the focus of the movie more than it probably ought to. Dano, a strong character actor in countless TV and film projects, does an excellent job as a jaded coroner (a far cry from "Quincy M.D.", he not only eschews a surgical mask, but smokes a cigarette during the autopsy!) The film is gorgeously photographed and extremely creatively directed. It had to be way ahead of its time in terms of camera-work. The texture and atmosphere of the scenes is beyond most of what is cranked out today. It's also loaded with quirkiness and irony (some might say overloaded.) In any case, it's a unique viewing experience with many rewards for the patient and incisive viewer. There's also a motorcycle chase that rivals any of the best from this period. Like so many films, the only way it can be fully appreciated is in the widescreen format. The glimpses of Monument Valley are welcome and add much to the visual appeal of the film. The film isn't completely flawless, but it is highly memorable. The title refers to the make and color of a motorcycle.

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Release Date:

4 October 1973 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Legend of Big John See more »

Filming Locations:

Winslow, Arizona, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Guercio-Hitzig See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Todd-AO)| 4-Track Stereo


Color | Black and White (final scenes)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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