The Blues Brothers (1980)

Fun facts to know:

  •  Dan Aykroyd claims that there was room in the film’s $30 million budget for cocaine in order to keep the crew awake during long shoots (and for John Belushi and his performances).
  • At one point the director had to flush a pile of coke down the toilet to prevent Belushi from using it. The actor was simply being handed vials of drugs on the streets of Chicago by his adoring hometown fans.
  • All the car stunts sent the film $10 million over budget.
  • Belushi made $500,000 for the movie while Aykroyd was paid just $250,000.
  • Dan Aykroyd proposed to Carrie Fisher during the filming and were engaged for a time, but never married.
  • For the movie’s 30th anniversary in 2010, the Vatican newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, called the movie a Catholic classic, and recommended it for viewing by all good Catholics.
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photo source: rollingstone.com

Starts off with a dynamite opening, where Jake (starring the talented Jim Belushi) meets up with his brother, Elwood (starring Dan Aykroyd, another talented individual) just outside of prison.  From the looks of it, prison possesses the gates to Heaven. The bright sunlight exuding through the gate entrance causes a clear distinct difference between the “shady” Jake and the “holy” establishment. Almost to signify the fact that prison is the only place where the Brothers are restricted from committing crimes. Even though they may be guilty in the eyes of the law, they are deemed “good” amongst the graces of their Lord. Ironic.

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source: decadentlifestyle.net

The most ironic part is the fact that Elwood picks up his brother from prison in an old-fashioned beat-down police car, both dressed like Men in Black agents. Apparently the only way to convince Jake that this car was worthy of being the new “Bluesmobile” (considering the last one was traded for a microphone), was to pull a suicidal stunt where by jumping a raised bridge over water. Oh, and it needed a working cigarette lighter plug, in order for it to be legitimate.

A visit to their old orphanage, where a spooky nun they call “Penguin” (probably because she wears the whole white/black facade) informs them both that the orphanage will be shut down if $5000 is not paid for back taxes. Being that this is the only home the two have ever known, they set off to save the orphanage, as well as to “redeem” themselves.

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Best way to redeem yourself? Through the wise preaching words of James Brown, as Reverend Cleophus. Who better to play such an inspirational character? As it turns out, James Brown insisted on actually singing for the scene instead of lip-synching, which most films tend to do. I’m not a religious person, but this song makes me feel good to the soul. You literally can’t help but move to this song. Both Blues Brothers each have a dance solo, and each are amazing in their own way. I have even taken it upon myself to somehow incorporate Elwood’s dance steps into my dance style. Hallelujah!!

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Jake gets this “bright” idea to put together the band again, in order to raise the $5000 needed. Unfortunately their mission attracted a wide array of individuals with their own ideas, mainly of revenge and justice. A dazzling cast of superstars make their way into this film, some for a minute, others in moments, but each one fits the bill. Big names such as: Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway (seen singing to the right), Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, John Landis, James Brown, and even Carrie Fisher as a mysterious woman scorned with a personal vendetta. Appearances were made by: Twiggy, John Candy, Kathleen Freeman, Steven Spielberg, Chaka Khan, and Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman), as well as many others. Frank Oz, the director of the Dark Crystal who also played Ms. Piggy and Yoda, cameos in the beginning as the officer returning the belongings of “Joliet” Jake Blues back to him.

Making enemies all along the way on their “mission from God” put them in quite a predicament, causing them to run from not only the law, but from angry country singers too. Even Nazis!! My favorites were the “hut hut hut” guys – the SWAT perhaps? The amount of car demolition done in this film made a world record (at the time) of 103 cars wrecked. Of course, it’s been beaten now, thanks to The Matrix Reloaded with the world record of over 300 wrecked vehicles. Quite a spectacle to watch with all the ridiculous car chase scenes. One is even done inside an actual mall! The one question going through your mind as you watch this film is, “why are all the cops such terrible drivers?” As chaotic as it all appears, you learn to accept the surreal-ness of it all, laughing at the  astounding way it seems to lack of physics. Just know that John Belushi really did do all his own cartwheels and flips, surprisingly. As they say, “God works in mysterious ways…?”

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photo source: imgur.com

Besides the wonderful music and dancing, I love how this film doesn’t use any CGI effects. Yes, you heard right. No CGI, whatsoever. Not something you see anymore in this day and age, unfortunately. Not to mention this film exceeded the expectations of the critics, for exhibitors warned that it was ‘a black movie and white people won’t see it’. Well, proved them wrong. Still to this day, it’s considered a classic. True to its roots, The Blues Brothers represents rhythm & blues in its correct fashion – full of soul. I give this film 9.5/10 stars!

  • Directed by John Landis
  • Written by Dan Aykroyd and John Landis
  • Produced by Robert K. Weiss
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Ever seen one of the most epic, and most popular, cartoons ever made with the hypnotic, beautiful music of Cab Calloway and his Orchestra? This gif doesn’t justify how exquisite Cab Calloways’ voice is so I highly recommend you look up a video of the beloved Betty Boop seen with ghosts and ghouls, called “Cab Calloway and Betty Boop – Minnie the Moocher (1932)” on YouTube.com. The song sung in the cartoon is the same song he sung in the film, but it had been altered because Cab had forgotten the correct lyrics. Truly though, the man knew how to move, and had a voice capable of sending chills down your spine…

 

 

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Author: Larryn LeFaye

Am a profound lover of magick, wonder, and imagination... Anything that piques my curiosity is something I strive to explore each day, one thing a day, everyday. Makes life fascinating, for there's so much to learn - and learn I shall...

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