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The Blues Brothers (1980)

Jake Blues, just released from prison, puts together his old band to save the Catholic home where he and his brother Elwood were raised.

Director:

John Landis
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Popularity
371 ( 42)
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Erhart Tom Erhart ... Prison Guard
Gerald Walling Gerald Walling ... Prison Guard (as Gerald Walling S.J.)
John Belushi ... Joliet Jake
Walter Levine Walter Levine ... Prison Guard
Frank Oz ... Corrections Officer
Dan Aykroyd ... Elwood
Kathleen Freeman ... Sister Mary Stigmata
Cab Calloway ... Curtis
Donald Dunn ... Donald 'Duck' Dunn (as Donald 'Duck' Dunn)
Alonzo Atkins Alonzo Atkins ... Choirmaster
James Brown ... Reverend Cleophus James
Chaka Khan ... Choir Soloist
Southern California Community Choir Southern California Community Choir ... Choir (as James Cleveland's Southern California Community Choir)
Armand Cerami Armand Cerami ... Trooper Daniel
Steven Williams ... Trooper Mount (as Steve Williams)
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Storyline

After the release of Jake Blues from prison, he and brother Elwood go to visit "The Penguin", the last of the nuns who raised them in a boarding school. They learn the Archdiocese will stop supporting the school and will sell the place to the Education Authority. The only way to keep the place open is if the $5000 tax on the property is paid within 11 days. The Blues Brothers want to help, and decide to put their blues band back together and raise the money by staging a big gig. As they set off on their "mission from God" they seem to make more enemies along the way. Will they manage to come up with the money in time? Written by Sami Al-Taher <staher2000@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Dangerous Combination Since Nitro and Glycerine. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Illinois Nazis" use a 1975 Ford LTD Wagon and a 1977 Ford Pinto Wagon. Henry Ford, who formed the Ford Motor Company, was rumored to be a Nazi sympathizer before World War II. See more »

Goofs

In his transient hotel room, Elwood plays a Decca record on his phonograph. The song we hear is Let The Good Times Roll by Louis Jordan (1946), but the label on the record indicates that it is instead Saturday Night Fish Fry, also by Louis Jordan (1949). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Prison Guard #1: Yeah, the Assistant Warden wants this one out of the block early. Wants to get it over with fast.
Prison Guard #2: Okay, let's do it.
[rattling the bars with his baton]
Prison Guard #1: Hey come on, it's time to wake up.
Prison Guard #2: Wake up. Let's go, it's time.
[striking the sleeping Jake with his baton]
See more »

Crazy Credits

As the film ends with the Blues Brothers and band playing "Jailhouse Rock", there are several cuts starting with the second verse that feature the castmembers who are professional singers singing lines of the song with their names on the screen. See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally intended to be an old-fashioned roadshow attraction. The original cut of the film had an intermission and may have run as long as three hours. Landis was asked to cut the film after premiering a lengthy director's cut (of an answer print) at the Picwood Theatre in West Los Angeles. That version has been lost. Landis originally tried to restore the original cut several years ago, but found that Universal had thrown out all the outs, trims, negatives, and mix tracks. Landis and George Folsey Jr. restored 18 minutes from another preview print on an AVID for the Collectors' Edition, and correctly timed the picture so that Stephen Katz's photography looks as it was intended to look. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rizzoli & Isles: Burning Down the House (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Time Is Tight
(uncredited)
Written by Donald Dunn, Al Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s
See more »

User Reviews

Genius Loves Company
14 August 2011 | by PutzbergerSee all my reviews

This movie merits classic status because it showcases five giants of American popular music -- Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin. But by 1980, America's musical taste had been so pasteurized by disco and country (Bee Gees vs. Kenny Rogers) that these blues and R&B legends might have been relegated to a PBS documentary if it weren't for the admirable efforts of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi to present their brilliance to a wider audience. To do that, however, they had to stitch together a knockabout comedy with a threadbare plot and loads of car chases which stops every 15 minutes or so for an awesome musical number. If that makes "The Blues Brothers" sound like an extended, excessive, extremely expensive episode of late-70s "Saturday Night Live," well, surprise, surprise, that's exactly what it is. But between the sketchy schtick and the fantastic musical guests, "The Blues Brothers" is as loaded with entertainment value as a stuffed Chicago pizza is with calories, and both are equally satisfying.

The plot, so to speak, centers on "Joliet" Jake (John Belushi) & Elwood Blues' (Dan Aykroyd) attempts to raise $5,000 for back taxes on the orphanage where they were raised. (Warning: the orphanage is run by the Catholic church. If you stop to wonder why a religious institution has to pay property taxes, you're really not going to get into the spirit of this thing.) They reassemble their old band, which fell apart after Jake went to prison, and embark on a lunatic journey across the greater Chicago area, destroying malls, alienating law enforcement and enraging Nazis along the way. You're distracted from the improbable storyline by director John Landis' gift for piling overkill on top of overkill, which in this movie even includes firebombs, machine gun fire and other pyrotechnics, most of it launched by a mysteriously enraged Carrie Fisher, who sleepwalks through this cameo like she's prescription-drugged into near catatonia (which she probably was). The comedy is broad but funny, and the Blues Brothers' numbers featuring Aykroyd and Belushi are surprisingly gritty considering the routine was always more about attitude that authenticity. But what elevates "The Blues Brothers" above the level of a well-made dumb comedy is its guest stars.

Big kudos to scriptwriters Aykroyd & Landis for naming Jake & Elwood's backing ensemble the "Blues Brothers Rhythm & Blues Band," a subtle acknowledgment that the Jake & Elwood characters always parodied more R&B (or, in the case of their "Gimme Some Lovin'" cover, phony R&B) than actual blues. They pay an even greater homage to bona fide electric Chicago blues with a scene featuring John Lee Hooker, performing his classic "Boom Boom," that has absolutely no connection to the rest of the movie (but is, nonetheless, excellent). As for the rest of the musical guests, none of them are famous for blues -- Cab Calloway was a jazz singer, and Ray Charles invented the kind of gritty soul which James Brown and Aretha Franklin perfected. But if you're the kind of purist who lets these kind of distinctions ruin your fun, you should probably skip this movie and go hang out at Buddy Guy's Legends. The rest of us can enjoy Calloway as the Blues Brothers' mentor, Brown as a charismatic preacher, Charles as a blind, gun-toting music store owner and Franklin as a soul food restaurateur. As actors, Cab and Aretha do pretty well, Ray is commendable and the filmmakers were wise enough not to give JB any dialogue (his control-freak tendencies might have prompted him to rewrite the entire movie). But that's all just a bonus, since their musical numbers are the great highlights of "The Blues Brothers," beautifully sung and enlivened by choreography that manages to look both polished and spontaneous. Aretha's version of "Think" is especially moving, since she's trying to convince her no-good husband, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, to stay on the straight and narrow and not take off with the Blues Brothers on their ridiculous adventure. She looks good, moves well and sounds just fine, even if she doesn't quite reach the high notes she hits in the recorded version. (But I'm going to assume that was her choice -- watch the credits and listen to what Aretha does with her throwaway line in the "Jailhouse Rock" number. Damn.) ReRe was in a career slump at the time and "The Blues Brothers" primed her for a return to superstardom. Nice work, Aykroyd & Belush.

By the way . . . skip "Blues Brothers 2000." It's pretty lame.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 June 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Return of the Blues Brothers See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,858,152, 22 June 1980

Gross USA:

$57,229,890

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$115,229,890
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints)| Mono (optical prints)| DTS (DTS: X)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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