I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Elwood Blues (Dan Ackroyd) arrives at Joliet State Pennitentary to pick up his brother Jake (John Belushi) who has just been released from jail. Jake is ticked that Elwood would come to get him in an old police car. Once Elwood explains that the car is built tough, all is forgiven.

They pay a visit to the orphanage they were raised in. The head nun explains that the place has fallen on hard times, and will be closed down unless $10, 000 is raised to keep it open. Jake and Elwood tell her that they have no problem getting the money, but the nun knows they mean to get it by stealing it. After she beats them down with a ruler, they run into the janitor (Cab Calloway), the guy who gave them their love of blues and soul music when they were kids. He suggests that they visit the church headed by Rev. Cleothus James. Jake balks at this, but he and Elwood eventually agree to go. The Rev. James (James Brown) gives a bang up service, and Jake is hit by the light. "The band!" he cries. "We've got to get the band back together!"

This movie gets crazier and more hillarious as it follows the brothers adventures in getting their old band back in gear to raise money for the orphanage. They run into many obstacles including neo-Nazis, the cops, and one very pissed off woman (Carrie Fisher) seeking to kill Jake for a promise he broke to her years earlier. The film is constant goofy fun from beginning to end. It is the best of the movies that have been made featuring characters featured on TV's "Saturday Night Live" (1975 to present). For weeks after seeing this film for the first time, every time I saw a Chicago police car, I would break out laughing. The crash ups and chases involving the cops were spectacular, especially in a scene that takes place in front of Chicago's City Hall.

Ackroyd and Belushi were great friends in real life. It was Ackroyd who turned Belushi on to the blues. He was amazed that his friend wasn't hip to the music. He reportedly told him, "You're from Chicago, and you don't know about the blues?" The two men had great chemistry, and they made one more film together, a dark comedy called Neighbors. Unfortunately, Belushi passed away from a drug overdose in 1982. Also no longer with us are some of the other stars in the film: Ray Charles, who plays a music store owner, John Candy ("SCTV"), Cab Calloway, and blues man John Lee Hooker. Carrie Fisher is an actress and writer, best known for playing Princess Leia in the first three Star Wars movies. Her mother is singer/actress Debbie Reynolds. Steven Williams appears in a small role as a state policeman; he also played a cop on the series "21 Jump Street" (1987-1990). Henry Gibson is seen as a nasty neo-Nazi; he was a cast member on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968-1973).


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