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The Blues Brothers (1980)

A unique comedy and musical mastepiece — Written by JakeBlues on 07.06.2012

There are movies that, simply, can only be described with the word "cult": The Blues Brothers is definitely one of them.

There are movie whose cultural impact on a generation is unique: again, The Blues Brothers is one of them.

There are movies that are almost impossible to categorize in a certain genre, as one of their distinctive features is to fluctuate between genres: The Blues Brothers is one of those movies.

When the film was originally released, in 1980, the world was listening to disco music and rock, blues and rhythm and blues were almost completely forgotten.
The idea to invest time and money on a movie that is 100% focused on blues and rhythm and blues was therefore simply bold, if not daring.

Not to add the fact that musical movies as well were almost forgotten, and the Blues Brothers is, by all means, a musical.

The original screenplay, created by actor Dan Aykroyd, at the beginning was more than 1.000 pages long, and director John Landis had to cut hundreds of pages to reach a workable version for a movie.

The idea of the leading characters, Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues, was born on TV, in that unique laboratory of comedy that was NBC's Saturday Night Live in the late Seventies.
Born as a musical interlude between different parts of the TV program, the songs and dances of The Blues Brothers and their band became so popular with the live studio and TV audiences, to quickly convince a cinema studio like Universal that it could be easily transformed into movie material.

In addition to the creativity of Aykroyd and Landis, there was also a comedy genius involved, under the name of John Belushi.
An actor whose face, attitude, expressions, walk, voice and dancing was, is, and will always be unique and unforgettable.

As Joliet Jake Blues, together with his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), with just this movie they were to become as popular and iconic as Laurel & Hardy or Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Their portrait of the two leading roles, with their black suits, black hats and black sunglasses, with the way they move and dance, it's simply unbeatable.

Add to that a director that was leaving in those years his state of grace period, such as John Landis, and the magic is somehow explained.

The plot is full of great ideas, there are many scenes that are genuinely funny and entertaining even after several views, the dialogues are just fantastic, especially when Belushi and Aykroyd talk to each other ("Elwood: Shit! Jake: What? Elwood: Rollers. Jake: No? Elwood: Yeah. Jake: Shit").

Two more elements add to all the above, contributing to turn the movie into an all time masterpiece: the musicians and the city of Chicago.

As rhythm and blues was almost forgotten, music geniuses such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, etc. were almost jobless in those days: their appearances and wonderful performances in The Blues Brothers gave to all of them a reborn career, and their music contributed to create one of the best soundtracks in cinema history.
The very musicians of the band of the blues brothers, in the movie, are all great professionals and both their musical performances and their acting in non leading roles also add to the overall quality of the movie.

Then, there is Chicago.
For many many years, the mayor of Chicago didn't like to have movies shot in his city, and therefore the fantastic skyline and atmosphere of Chicago was missing in films.
A change in the administration and the vast popularity of Belushi (a true son of Chicago) and Aykroyd, allowed essential parts of the movie to be shot in downtown Chicago, remembering everybody that this is one of the most visually stunning cities in the world.
The car chases and the vast amount of police cars destroyed around Chicago, and the final, epic scene in Daley Square (a real breakthrough, for director John Landis) quickly became quintessential, in the city's history.

What more can be added about this comedy and musical masterpiece?
"Elwood: It's a 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it!"

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