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The Blues Brothers
USA 1980
Directed by John Landis
Running time 142 minutes
Rated M
4.5 stars


One of the most enduring cult film of all time The Blues Brothers is a superior comedy which had it origins in Saturday Night Live, the iconic television show on which Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Ackroyd) and the Blues Brothers Band made their initial appearances.

Although not strictly a musical it has more music than most examples of the genre, and runs through most of the usual permutatations from stage performance to cast breaking into song mid-narrative. The song list and cast roll-call is tremendous and was only possible because the 70s disco craze had obliterated awareness of so many of the performers including James Brown, Ray Charles, Jon Lee Hooker and Aretha Franklin who were hence going cheap.

Belushi was hot property after the huge success of Animal House and the studio greenlighted Ackroyd's script without batting an eyelid although Belushi was already heavily into a Bluto-ish life of drug and alcohol abuse. With its low-key style, the filom may not look or feel like it, but with a budget of $US26 million it was an expensive film for its time, most of the money going on the extraordinarily mayhemic, joyfully destructive stunts including trashing a real shopping mall and dozens of police cars. Despite getting largely negative critical reaction on release it went on to become a huge hit and still today has not lost a jot of its irreverent energy and implacable hipness, whilst the soundtrack, which became part of everyone's lives for the next decade, has only improved with time, particularly now that so many of the performers, captured here in fine style, have moved on.

FYI: Carrie Fisher who plays Jake's pursuing ex-lover was an item with Ackroyd at the time and is the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. She went on to marry Paul Simon.

 

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