The Blues Brothers: An American Classic

Blues Brothers

As I stated on my about page, The Blues Brothers is my favorite movie of all time. Some of my reasoning for this is personal, some can be attributed to my fantastic taste in cinema. Either way, The Blues Brothers is an underrated, under-watched movie with timeless comedy and the best car chase scenes in film.

In terms of the personal reasons for my enjoyment of the film, this is also my grandpa’s favorite movie. Growing up, whenever it was too cold or too wet to go outside, my grandpa would turn on this movie to pass the time; it did a great job of passing the time, too, clocking in at almost 2.5 hours. As Don Draper said, “Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent.”

Personal feelings aside, The Blues Brothers is an all-around fantastic movie with an all-star cast including Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Carrie Fisher, John Candy, and many, many more (including a cameo from legendary director Steven Spielberg). The film was released in 1980 and is considered one of the top films of the year among stiff competition like Star Wars Episode V, The Shining, and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is also one of only three movies rated above 50% on Rotten Tomatoes based off of Saturday Night Live skits. The other two being Wayne’s World and its sequel (view the full list of SNL movies here).

Leading actors Belushi and Aykroyd so perfectly embody their characters, Jake and Elwood Blues, that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else playing their parts, and it would be an abomination if Hollywood attempted to recast and remake this movie. As he always does, John Belushi steals the show with his loud and arrogant persona, which is perfect for the portrayal of a character who was recently released from prison and now believes he’s on, “a mission from God.” Jake is perfectly culminated in this scene near the end, when Carrie Fisher’s character finally confronts him after trying to kill him throughout the movie.

On top of great lead actors and cameos from some of Hollywood’s best of the late 70’s, the film appropriately featured musical guests from many different eras of music. Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles are the most prominent of these musicians to contribute to a film that, when you look past the mass destruction of vehicles, is primarily about music.

Speaking of the mass destruction of vehicles, The Blues Brothers held the record for most cars destroyed in a film for a short period of time at 103 (it lost the record two years later to The Junkman, a movie about destroying cars). While the movie is chock-full of police chases, none is quite as iconic as the final chase scene which included three tanks, three helicopters, three firetrucks, 15 horses, and 50 squad cars, not to mention over 500 extras who all played soldiers, police officers, and neo-nazis. This scene is widely regarded to be the best police chase in cinematic history and it will be hard to top considering the sheer scale of it. This chase wasn’t even the most expensive one in the movie either. That honor goes to the mall chase, in which they destroyed a $25 million mall

If none of these points have convinced you that The Blues Brothers is a true American classic, I don’t know what will. It’s clearly my favorite movie, so maybe I’m biased. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s worth hunting down and giving it a watch. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, the least I can do is offer up a few of the most memorable lines.

Best Quotes

Elwood: Illinois Nazis
Jake: I hate Illinois Nazis!

 

Elwood: There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it!

 

Jake: How often does the train run by here?
Elwood: So often, you won’t even notice.

 

Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Cocktail Waitress: Oh, we got both kinds. We got Country AND Western!

 

Elwood: Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don’t fail me now.

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