The Blues Brothers (1980)
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John Belushi disappeared while filming one of the night scenes. Dan Aykroyd looked around and saw a single house with its lights on. He went to the house and was prepared to identify himself, the movie, and that they were looking for Belushi. Before he could, the homeowner looked at him, smiled and said, "You're here for John Belushi, aren't you?" The homeowner told them Belushi had entered their house, asked if he could have a glass of milk and a sandwich, and then crashed on their couch. Situations like that prompted Aykroyd to affectionately dub Belushi "America's Guest".
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Carrie Fisher became engaged to Dan Aykroyd during this shoot shortly after he saved her from choking, by applying the Heimlich maneuver.
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Some performers were not used to lip-syncing to pre-recorded songs, standard procedure for movie musicals. James Brown ended up singing his number live with a recorded backing (the rest of his choir was lip-syncing). John Lee Hooker's performance of "Boom Boom" was recorded live at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market. Aretha Franklin's performance is cut together from many, many takes, using the parts where her lip-syncing was actually in sync.
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The following off-screen dollar amounts reflect inflation from 1979 (the year of production & principal photography) adjusted for 2022:
- Permission to film in downtown Chicago was given after John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd offered to donate $50,000 to charity after filming. This comes out to $178,684.15 in 2022 adjusted for inflation
- Producers rented the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois, for the mall chase scenes. The mall had been closed for over a year. Rumors spread in the community that the mall was being refurbished, and would be reopened after filming was complete. Universal was later sued for over $87,000 ($310,910.42 in 2022 adjusted for inflation) for failure to "return the mall to its original condition", something that had never been agreed upon. After years of political wrangling, the Montgomery Ward anchor store and mall power plant were demolished, while the rest of the dead mall rotted. The rest of the mall was finally torn down and cleared away in 2012
- Universal had planned a gala Chicago premiere, but in May 1980, Universal president Ned Tanen said "Things threatened to get out of hand. Universal has decided instead to donate $50,000 ($178684.15 in 2022 adjusted for inflation) to charities, chiefly orphanages in Chicago." The film opened in Chicago at the Chicago Theater and 15 other Chicago-area theaters and drive-ins
- All the people in the concert were fans of the Blues Brothers. They had volunteered for a free concert, and were promised $100,000 cash. This comes out to $405,621.38
- When John Landis found out that film's budget was $17.5 million, he said, half-jokingly, "I think we've spent that much already." This comes out to $68,955,635.16
- At the time, it was one of the most expensive films ever made, costing $30 million. For comparison, Steven Spielberg's contemporary film 1941 (1979) cost $35 million ($141,967,484.16). It was even rumored that Landis and Spielberg engaged in a rivalry, the goal of which was to make the more expensive film. Its been suggested that it was amiable, since they were both friends at the time and have cameos in each others film. Coincidentally, both films feature Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and John Candy. Unfortunately, Spielberg ended the friendship because of a fatal accident that occurred during filming Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), even though John Landis was acquitted in court of criminal charges.
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John Belushi was nicknamed "The Black Hole" because he went through hundreds of pairs of sunglasses during production. He would do a scene, and then lose the pair before filming the next one.
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A world record 103 cars were wrecked during filming. "The Junkman (1982)" broke the record 2 years later, wrecking 150 cars and a plane. That record held for 2 decades, until over 300 cars were wrecked during the filming of "The Matrix Reloaded (2003)."
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During filming, James Brown got separated from the vehicle caravan and drove the Bluesmobile 100 miles west on Interstate 80, to Spring Valley, Illinois. When he stopped at a gas station for directions, he was arrested by local police for no registration (the plate was a prop), and no valid driver's license. A telephone call was made to the production. The set director was more concerned with the return of the vehicle than with the return of his actor.
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The scene in which Henry Gibson taunts the assembled counter protesters, and leads his men in a pledge of allegiance to Adolf Hitler, was taken almost word-for-word from "The California Reich (1975)." Gibson introduces his Nazi group as the "American Socialist White People's Party", the acronym of which, ASWPP, is a diminutive of "ass wipe."
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The Bluesmobile has a Sam & Dave 8-Track in it, and their music ("Hold On, I'm Comin'") is heard in the scenes before the mall chase sequence. Steve Cropper, one of the lead guitarists in The Blues Brothers Band, as well as bass player Donald "Duck" Dunn, were members of Booker T. & the M.G.s, the backing band for Stax Records. The band played with Sam & Dave on all of their Stax releases.
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The Bluesmobile drove under the elevated train line at 118 mph. The film crew got permission to clear the street for two 100+ mph passes. Stunt pedestrians were added after the first pass, to add realism.
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For the 30th anniversary of the movie, The Vatican newspaper "L'Osservatore Romano" called the film "a Catholic classic", recommending it as good viewing for Catholics.
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After the concert, the State Troopers chase the Blues Brothers back to Chicago. The scene in which several troopers' cars crash off the highway embankment was filmed at a closed section of Illinois State Highway 53 in Palatine, Illinois. They had trouble getting the cars to flip over when they went down the embankment, so they dug a hole into the embankment to help the cars flip over as they hit it.
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Singer and guitarist Joe Walsh can be seen during the "Jailhouse Rock" sequence at the end. He still had long hair and a long mustache at the time, and is the first prisoner to jump up on a table and start dancing.
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Dan Aykroyd's script was originally titled "The Return of the Blues Brothers" and was three hundred twenty-four pages. It was intended to be a two-part film. John Landis spent three weeks paring the script down.
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When Cab Calloway originally recorded "Minnie The Moocher" in the 1930s, the chorus lyrics were simply "Ho-dee-hody" rather than the lengthened "Hody-hody-hody ho". In an interview, Calloway explained that one time when he was singing the song, he suddenly forgot the words, so he immediately shouted "Hody-Hody-Hody-ho!", and carried on the song that way. That proved to be more popular with fans than the original, so he had been singing it that way ever since.
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Dan Aykroyd's original script was so long that, as a joke, Aykroyd had it bound in the covers of the Los Angeles Yellow Pages.
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Most of the chase scenes had to be filmed twice. The first times, pedestrians had been cleared from the area for safety reasons. However, the lack of reference made the chases look fake, as if they had been sped-up. They were then filmed again, with extras, to give a frame of reference.
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According to Dan Aykroyd, cocaine was included in the film's budget to help the cast and crew stay awake during night shoots. According to Aykroyd, John Belushi enjoyed it the most, and felt that it enhanced his performance.
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The Soul Food Café, where Aretha Franklin is depicted as singing, was Nate's Deli on Chicago's famed Maxwell Street. The whole block was torn down c.1995 to build two dormitories for the University of Illinois - Chicago. Her number was actually filmed on a studio set.
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The "'woman on the cutting-room floor" (Shirley Levine) in the credits is the mother of John Landis.
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Before the falling Pinto scene could be filmed, the filmmakers had to get an "Air UN-worthiness certificate" from the Federal Aviation Administration for the car. This was done by conducting preliminary drop tests, to ensure that it would drop "like a brick" when dropped from a great height.
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While filming of the opening scene, guards at the prison fired at the helicopter filming overhead shots, thinking it was an attempt to spy on the structure.
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When recording the soundtrack, Cab Calloway was needed to record his hit "Minnie the Moocher" in better quality than his original album. When he came into the studio, he was prepared to do the disco version, which had just been released. The filmmakers asked for the original version, which Calloway reluctantly gave them.
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According to John Landis, John Belushi sprained his back falling down the stairs in the desk from the Penguin's office. He was in a back brace and on painkillers for the rest of filming.
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The line "They broke my watch!" occurs three times in the film, each time spoken or voiced over by a policeman on the losing end of a car chase with the Blues Brothers
- [5:01]The broken watch theme starts when Jake's broken watch is returned to him when he is released from prison at the beginning of the film.
- [31:55]The first line is in the shopping mall after the Blues Brothers get away
- in the rollover ditch
- [2:08:51]the third is in the pile-up under the elevated train line.
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The Springfield High School class of 1980, from Akron, Ohio, had a surprise in their yearbook, personal behind-the-scenes photos, while in character, of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on the set of the film. This turned out to be courtesy of Belushi's uncle, who was the owner of a photography studio in the city. As a personal favor, both agreed to appear in the shots with the family members for the advertisement and school supporter section of the yearbook, with one of the pictures showing Belushi holding an antique camera with a sign on it which reads, "Look mean, but smile!"
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Paul Shaffer was an original member of the Blues Brothers Band, and was supposed to be in the film. According to Shaffer's memoir, he was also working on "Gilda Live (1980)," and John Belushi fired him for being disloyal to the band.
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When Aretha Franklin is describing Jake and Elwood to Matt Murphy, she says "They look like they're from the CIA or something." The Blues Brothers wardrobe of dark suits and sunglasses originated as Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's costumes on a few Saturday Night Live (1975) episodes in which they played Secret Service agents guarding Chevy Chase's President Gerald Ford. In those skits, they wore black suits and sunglasses.
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At the end, after the Universal Studios logo is shown, there is an ad for Universal Studios in Hollywood. Below "When in Hollywood, visit Universal Studios", it says "Ask For Babs." The same appeared in National Lampoon's National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) (Babs is the Animal House character Babs Jensen), and it reappeared in Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) underneath a new Universal Studios Hollywood logo at the end of that movie.
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- [1:47:15]Burton Mercer (John Candy) orders three orange whips. This line was not scripted; Candy just improvised. While also a cocktail, Orange Whip provided refreshments for the crew, and costumer Sue Dugan was the daughter of the Director of Sales for Orange Whip, Kenny Dugan, who asked the brand be mentioned in the film.
- Mike Johansen named his orange & white cat "Orange Whip". The cat passed away in 2019
- A drink recipe is featured in the book 'Cocktails Of The Movies'; ISBN-13: 978-3791387444.
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John Wayne's son Ethan Wayne was a stunt driver on the film.
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The popularity of the film boosted Ray-Ban's Wayfarer sunglasses, which were then experiencing some renewed popularity thanks to the rise of the "New Music" movement. From a few thousand sold through the mid-1970s, sales rose to eighteen thousand during 1981, partly because of the film, bringing the model out from the verge of withdrawal. Their later use in the similarly Chicago-set Risky Business (1983) solidified their renewed popularity.
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[1:22:16]At the Bob's Country Bunker gig, Jake introduces "Stand By Your Man" by saying it's a favorite of the horn section. The horn section doesn't play in the song.
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Graffiti on the bridge under which the Blues Brothers hide their car during the show reads "John *heart* Deborah". This is a reference to John Landis and his wife, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman.
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Carrie Fisher was the guest host of SNL in "Saturday Night Live: Carrie Fisher/The Blues Brothers (1978)," in which the Blues Brothers were the musical guest.
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In 2020, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Director and co-writer John Landis said: "Having The Blues Brothers chosen to be included in the National Film Registry is both a great honor and a delightful surprise. The film is the result of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's genuine passion for rhythm and blues and our mutual love for these great African American artists and the city of Chicago."
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The exteriors and many interiors at Daley Center were shot on-location, including the shot of the Bluesmobile plowing through the courthouse lobby. In a 1998 interview for Universal, John Landis credited mob help, for getting permission from the Cook County Board of Commissioners for this (alluding to the Board being mob-controlled at that time).
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The Bluesmobile is a 1974 Dodge Monaco. The vehicles used in the film were used police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol, and featured the "cop tires, cop suspension, and cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant" mentioned by Elwood in the film. A total of twelve Bluesmobiles were used in the movie, including one that was built just so it could fall apart. Several replicas have been built by collectors, but one original is known to exist, and is owned by the brother-in-law of Dan Aykroyd. Dodge Monacos from 1974-77, including the upscale Royal Monaco, especially those which came with the A38 police option, are now considered collector's items. They have been used as replica Chicago P.D. and Illinois State Police cars, including Bluesmobile tribute cars. This has led to the scarcity of this generation of Mopar C-bodies, leading some replica squad cars and Bluesmobiles to use the Plymouth Gran Fury or Chrysler Newport instead. Universal Studios Hollywood has a replica Bluesmobile on the lot; it's a 1974 Dodge Coronet, since the Monaco has became so rare.
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In a scene restored to the DVD release, Elwood parks the Bluesmobile in a tiny Chicago Transit Authority storage shed underneath a bank of transformers for the CTA trains. Dan Aykroyd had written this as part of an elaborate scene showing the Bluesmobile being "charged up" by the transformers to explain how the car could perform its impossible stunts. John Landis discarded the complicated explanations, saying, "It's just a magic car!"
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The scene where Jake and Elwood are sneaking out of the concert into the tunnel was actually filmed underneath Chicago in a defunct electric narrow-gauge railway system. The railroad was used to carry coal and freight its ashes out of town. Later, one of the tunnels under a river was breached and the tunnels flooded, filling most of the basements in downtown Chicago with riverwater.
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The film was considered to be a box office bomb until it became a blockbuster in overseas markets.
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Every time the window in Elwood's apartment is visible, a train goes past.
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Murphy Dunne is the son of the then-president of the Cook County Board, George Dunne, who helped convince Chicago mayor Jane Byrne to allow filming at the Daley Center.
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In the original script, the Illinois Nazis were trying to buy the orphanage, and set it up as their new headquarters.
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When John Belushi wasn't on-set, he went everywhere in Chicago. When he did, everybody was slipping him vials and packets of coke. That was in addition to what he could procure, or have procured, for himself, often consumed in his trailer, or at the private bar on-set he had built for himself, his longtime friends, the cast, and any visiting celebrities. Carrie Fisher, who John Landis had warned to keep Belushi away from drugs if she could, said almost everyone who had a job there also dealt, and the patrons could (and did) score almost anything there.
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When Jake and Elwood are stuck in traffic, backed up by Nazi marchers, they ask a cop what is going on, and he tells them, "Those bums won their court case, so they're marching today." Elwood scoffs, "Illinois Nazis", and Jake agrees, "I hate Illinois Nazis." This is a reference to a mid 1970s incident, in which the Nazi Party of America planned a public demonstration in Skokie, Illinois (the population of Skokie was not only heavily Jewish, but also contained an unusually large number of Holocaust survivors). After the local governments provided various impediments to the Nazis' march, they eventually took the matter to the Supreme Court, which led to a 1977 decision in favor of the Nazis' First Amendment right to Freedom of Assembly. The group subsequently did hold several Nazi rallies, but in Chicago instead of Skokie.
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The scene in which the band appears in a sauna, clad only in towels, is an allusion to the cover photo on the 1973 Blood Sweat & Tears music album "No Sweat", in which the band appears in a sauna in identical pose. Lou Marini and Tom Malone, two of the Blues Brothers Band members, were also in BST and appear in both sauna scenes.
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At the time, it was one of the most expensive films ever made, costing $30 million. For comparison, Steven Spielberg's contemporary film 1941 (1979) cost $35 million. It was even rumored that Landis and Spielberg engaged in a rivalry, the goal of which was to make the more expensive film. Its been suggested that it was amiable, since they were both friends at the time and have cameos in each others film. Coincidentally, both films feature Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and John Candy.
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Lobbying from the Italian-American community ensured that the line "The Mafia's out there" was re-dubbed to "The Mob's out there" when the film was shown on television.
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Dixie Square Shopping Center was used to film the shopping center sequence. Merchandise was purchased wholesale to stock shelves and whatever was not destroyed was returned. The sequence involved three hundred collisions, involving one hundred twenty cars, of which sixty vehicles were destroyed.
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According to Dan Aykroyd, many theaters in the American South refused to show the film because they felt that there were too many African-Americans in it. Aykroyd believes the film would have done even better at the box office if not for the racism in the American South.
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The record label president who offers the Blues Brothers a recording contract identifies himself as representing "Clarion Records, the largest recording company on the eastern seaboard." There actually was a Clarion Records, a budget label that was only in operation for a couple of years in the 1960s. However, it was owned by what had become, by the time of the movie, one of the largest American record companies: Atlantic Records, which in real life was not only a renowned blues, R&B, and soul label (home of many of the artists mentioned or featured in the movie), but which also released the Blues Brothers' albums, including this film's soundtrack.
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Right before shooting the final scene, which required him to do all sorts of on-stage acrobatics, while performing at the Hollywood Palladium in front of an audience of hundreds of extras, John Belushi tried out some kid's skateboard, and fell off and seriously injured his knee. Lew Wasserman, the head of "Universal Pictures," called the top orthopedist in Los Angeles, and made him postpone his weekend until he could shoot Belushi up with enough anesthetics to get him through filming.
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Over five hundred extras were used for the next-to-last scene, the blockade of the building at Daley Center, including two hundred National Guardsmen, one state and city police officers, with fifteen horses for the mounted police (and three Sherman tanks, three helicopters, and three fire engines).
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Before Jake and Elwood go into the Soul Food Café, John Lee Hooker gets into an argument with his band about his writing "Boom, Boom" (seen in the Extended Edition DVD). Later, as Jake and Elwood leave the diner with Matt Murphy and Blue Lou, the argument can still be heard going on in the background. If you look closely, as the camera tracks Blue Lou darting into the Bluesmobile, the argument has escalated into a fight.
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[1:38:14]When Burton Mercer (John Candy) picks up his phone and says "Get me troopers Daniel & Mount", it's an homage to Sean Daniel and Thom Mount, two Universal Pictures executives who pushed their bosses to let John Landis make National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) several years earlier. Both interviewed on the "Double Secret Probation" edition of the DVD.
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[1:07:04]When Carrie Fisher is in the hair salon doing her nails, and reading the instruction manual for the flamethrower, the three pictures on the table are Fisher's character and Jake Blues. In every picture, Jake is wearing his sunglasses and hat.
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Prospects for a successful release did not look good. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi had left "Saturday Night Live (1975)" at the end of the previous season, reducing their bankability. Belushi's fame had taken a further hit after the commercial and critical failure of "1941 (1979)" at the end of the year.
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Little Richard was asked to appear and perform in this film. He declined, because he was only performing gospel music at the time this film was made.
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The limousine seen outside the Chez Paul belonged to the owner of the restaurant. He almost had a heart attack when the stunt driver smashed through a letter box on his first attempt at parking.
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Elwood removes his hat three times in the film:
- [37:05]when going to sleep in his room
- [1:47:25]to break the window to get into the Palace Hotel
- towards the end of the movie, when the Bluesmobile falls apart. His sunglasses are removed once in the scene (included only in the extended version) where he quits his job at the glue factory "to become a priest". (However, he is wearing clear safety goggles throughout this sequence.)
- Jake is seen without hat and sunglasses for the opening sequence in the prison, until he is given them by the corrections officer. His face is not seen at this time.[1:59:49]he removes his sunglasses once, when he is talking to Carrie Fisher, but never removes his hat.
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[29:52]In the mall chase, the woman who throws up cake in front of Davidson's and is deaf stunt woman Kitty O'Neil.
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Just before the Good Ol' Boys' RV drives into the river, it passes by a building whose sign reads, "Mister Bill's Barbecue," referring to the popular Saturday Night Live (1975) short.
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[1:29:33]After Jake and Elwood leave Bob's Country Bunker, they pass a billboard advertising the movie See You Next Wednesday. (It also appears on the cinema sign behind where the Nazi Pinto crashes through the road.) This is an Easter egg co-writer and director John Landis slips into all of his movies as a homage to Stanley Kubrick (it's a line from "2001: A Space Odyssey.") The star of "SYNW" is listed as Donald Sutherland, who appeared in Landis' "Animal House.". This line can also be heard as Michael Jackson watches his movie in the Thriller video, directed by John Landis. Director John Landis tries to insert references to that fictional movie into all of his films
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The bridge off which the Illinois Nazis drive during the car chase was in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was a ramp as part of an interchange that had not been fully developed. Later, that ramp was torn down and replaced.
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The t-shirt Matt Murphy wears is from Uncle Tom's Tavern in Stone Mountain, Georgia. The place was famous for its rowdy fights. It has been closed for many years now.
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The Blues Brothers recorded and filmed Johnny Horton's song "Sink the Bismarck" for the gig at Bob's Country Bunker. When it was decided not to use the song, the footage disappeared, and remains lost.
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The first line of dialogue that Jake (John Belushi) says is "Well thank-you. The day I get out of prison my own brother picks me up...in a Police car! " is a subtle homage to legendary comedy double act, Laurel & Hardy. Belushi and Dan Ackroyd were both big fans of Laurel & Hardy as children and as this film is also about a comedy duo of underdogs with a musical inclination, Ackroyd added the line into the script and Belushi deliberately said it in the style of Oliver Hardy to acknowledge the influence.
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While at the phone booth, Elwood asks Jake "Who you gonna call?" This same line became the tagline for "Ghostbusters (1984)," which Dan Aykroyd wrote, and in which he starred. Furthermore, the part of Peter Venkman was initially written with John Belushi in mind, though due to Belushi's untimely death, it went to Bill Murray instead.
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The SCMODS (State County Municipal Offender Data System) Readout for Elwood is as follows:
- Blues, Elwood
- Illinois License: B263-1655-2187
- Currently under suspension
- Warrants Outstanding: Parking 116
- Moving Violations: 56
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The fleabag hotel where Elwood rents a room is the Plymouth Hotel at Van Buren and Plymouth Ct. next to the El in Chicago. It is the same hotel - and actually the same closet-sized room - rented by Kirk Douglas' character in "The Fury" released a year earlier. In that film, Douglas performs a remarkable stunt for a 63-year-old actor, by walking onto a ledge outside the building and leaping onto an El stanchion to escape pursuing villains.
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Jesuit priest Gerald Walling plays one of the prison guards, and is credited with the honorific "SJ" (for Society of Jesus).
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In the public restroom where the Good Ole Boys' front man discovers the graffiti, and advertisement for the Blues Brothers' show at the Palace Hotel, the name "Rick Baker" can be seen written in red to the right of the illustration of Jake and Elwood. Baker was the special make-up effects artist for John Landis' first feature film, Schlock (1973). Following the Blues Brothers, Landis called on Baker's talents once again for An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Michael Jackson's long-form music video Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983).
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In the original script, The Magictones were Mexican immigrants. Also, The Blues Brothers Band was scattered across three states. Among their new lives: Willie Hall, a.k.a. "Too Big", is a drug dealer, Steve Cropper, a.k.a. "The Colonel", is a pool shark-turned-Hutterite, and Donald Dunn, a.k.a. "Duck", and Lou Marini, a.k.a. "Blue", work in different parts of security.
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Colleen Camp's Playboy Magazine poster, also featured in Apocalypse Now (1979), is hanging on the wall of Elwood's apartment.
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When Jake Blues is being processed for release from prison, the guards tell the clerk that Blues is from the "Maximum Wing, Block Nine", a reference to a song recorded by the Blues Brothers called "Riot in Cell Block #9."
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The rough draft of the script, written by Dan Aykroyd, was more of a free form than a clear story. It didn't have a clear beginning, middle, or end.
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Released on the same day as Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Both movies starred Carrie Fisher and Frank Oz
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"Universal" kept trying to get the filmmakers to replace the blues and soul stars with more contemporary, successful acts like Rose Royce. John Landis stuck to his guns, but because he did, some large theater chains refused to book it into theaters in white neighborhoods.
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The dancing scene outside of Ray's Music Exchange had 100's of people dancing in the street. This sequence was supposed to have taken place in the summer as most everyone is wearing summer ware when in fact it was freezing cold that day, only about 25 degrees.
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The Bluesmobile's Illinois license plate is BDR-529. It's a reference to Dan Aykroyd's motorcycle club, The Black Diamond Riders. Their clubhouse was located at #529 on a street in Toronto.
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The original trailer for the film contains scenes that were not included in either the original release or the Extended Edition DVD. Among these is a scene in which Curtis asks the Brothers, "How are you gonna get $5,000 in eleven days without ripping off somebody?" There is also a snippet of the second verse of "Rawhide" ("My heart's calculatin', my true love will be waitin'"), which was omitted from the released versions of the film.
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The "Palace Hotel Ballroom", where the band performs its climactic concert, was at the time of filming a country club, but later became the South Shore Cultural Center, named after the Chicago neighborhood where it is located. The interior concert scenes were filmed in the Hollywood Palladium.
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The first cut of the film lasted two and a half hours, with an intermission. After one early screening, Lew Wasserman demanded it be shortened, and 17 minutes were cut.
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The interior for the Blues Brothers' concert was the Hollywood Palladium. Audience members were recruited through radio station promotion. The exterior was Chicago's South Shore Country Club, located at 7059 South Shore Dr., which was later purchased by the city, and reopened as the South Shore Cultural Center.
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The tenth most popular movie at the U.S. and Canadian box-offices in 1980.
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Cab Calloway's basement room and Ray Charles' music store, framed photos of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy are on display. The framed photos are a tribute to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
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This was the first movie to film on location in Chicago after the depiction of a Chicago Police officer taking a bribe in M Squad: The Jumper (1959) resulted in Mayor Richard Daley banning location filming in the city for his entire time in office. This is alluded to in the movie when Mr. Wonderful mentions to a customer on the phone that Mayor Daley is dead.
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On all DVD and Blu-ray releases, the credits end differently than originally shown. Universal's late 70s and early 80s "Produced at Universal Studios, California USA" card is shown, followed by the "Ask for Babs" shot. Once the "Ask for Babs" shot fades out, the song ends, and so does the movie. In the original 1980 theater and VHS versions, an MPAA R-rating card comes before the Universal logo and Ask for Babs shot. The song ends once the Ask for Babs shot fades out, but the audience is heard cheering and rooting loudly over a black screen for thirty seconds before the movie officially ends. The DVD and Blu-ray releases edit out the end cheering.
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Curtis is an homage to Curtis Salgado, a Portland, Oregon, blues musician, who inspired John Belushi, while he was in Oregon filming National Lampoon's Animal House (1978).
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In the basement of the orphanage, Elwood reminisces about his youth, thanking Curtis for "singin' Elmore James tunes, and blowin' the harp for us down here". The song playing at the time is "Shake Your Moneymaker", by Elmore James.
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In the original script, the band took over a house in a developing neighborhood for rehearsal. To avoid the owners, Elwood detonates the house with cans of hairspray.
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When the Bluesmobile crashes through the widow of the record store, a cardboard cut out of Robin Williams is visible, promoting his new album "Reality...What a Concept!" Williams was one of the last people to have talked to Belushi on March 5, 1982, the night of his fatal overdose.
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Film debut of Aretha Franklin.
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Since the Bluesmobile is an ex-police car, it has the "radio delete" plate installed in the instrument cluster above the heater controls where the radio should be installed, but Elwood has installed an 8-track player in the center air conditioning duct instead. The 8-track playing when they get pulled over before the mall chase is "The Best Of Sam & Dave" (Atlantic Records # ATL TP 8218).
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The film quickly surpassed its original budget, and back in Los Angeles Lew Wasserman grew increasingly frustrated. He regularly confronted Ned Tanen, the executive in charge of production for Universal, in person over the costs. Sean Daniel, another studio executive, was not reassured when he came to Chicago and saw that the production had set up a special facility for the 70 cars used in the chase sequences. Filming there, which was supposed to have concluded in the middle of September, continued into late October.
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While the band mixed its 1978 album "Briefcase Full of Blues", a live recording of concerts, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Manager Bernie Brillstein outlined the concept of the movie to Universal Studio Executive Sean Daniel in a telephone call. Based on the popularity of National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) and Saturday Night Live (1975), Daniel offered the duo a movie deal. By March 1979, Aykroyd had written a 324-page screenplay titled "The Return of the Blues Brothers." When John Landis came on board in Spring 1979, after dropping out of The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981), he helped streamline the script to a workable length.
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Bob's Country Bunker was a set built for the film on the backlot of Universal Studios. It stood for a while after filming was done, and was visible on the backlot tour, but was then torn down. Also located on the lake that was in front of Bob's, was the house used in "The Great Outdoors" (1988), which also featured Dan Aykroyd and John Candy.
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According to Lou Marini, even though there are only three horn players in the band (himself, Tom Malone and Alan Rubin), on every song there are four of them playing in the horn section. The fourth member being another member of the original version of The Saturday Night Live Band, Lew Del Gatto.
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Universal won a close bidding war with Paramount for the project.
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The production used six Ford Pintos, four of which were wrecked, and 12 specially outfitted Bluesmobiles. Before the Pinto could be dropped 1,400 feet (120 stories) in downtown Chicago, Chicago officials and the F.A.A. required filmmakers to test drop two Pintos.
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Olivia Newton-John was considered for the role of the Mystery Woman. But she was unavailable as she was working on Xanadu (1980).
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Both Aretha Franklin and Matt Murphy who plays husband and wife and owners of the Soul food cafe passed away in 2018.
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Ralph Foody (the police dispatcher) was also in the fake black & white gangster movie, "Angels With Filthy Souls" in Home Alone (1990) (filmed on location in Chicago) and he was a Chicago police captain in Raw Deal (1986). He is a Chicago police dispatcher in this film. He also played a police detective in Code of Silence (1985).
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The choice of Marquette Park as the location where Elwood drives the Bluesmobile across a lagoon bridge, disrupting the Nazi demonstration, with the iconic line "I hate Illinois Nazis", is no accident. The National Socialist Party of America, led by Frank Collin, marched at Marquette Park on July 9, 1978. Incidentally, a documentary film about this incident, Marquette Park II (1978), contains about five seconds of footage of a young Rahm Emanuel, elected mayor of Chicago on May 16, 2011, protesting against the Nazi march.
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This movie features four artists who would later have their own bio films - Wired (1989) (John Belushi), Ray (2004) (Ray Charles), Get on Up (2014) (James Brown), and Respect (2021) (Aretha Franklin).
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Kathleen Freeman (the penguin) previously appeared in Singin' in the Rain (1952) with Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds.
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Dan Aykroyd was only 27 years old at the time of filming. John Belushi was 30. See "filming dates" under the filming locations section.
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[23:57]Before Elwood is pulled over the first time, Murph and the Magic Tones, in their Cadillac, are visible behind the Bluesmobile on the highway.
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A sign that reads "Al Bennett Hubcaps" is a reference to car dealer Al Bennett, popularly known as the "dealing man" from Flint, Michigan, in the 1970s.
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The boat going under the bridge that Jake and Elwood jump at the beginning of the film is the W.W. Holloway. She was originally launched in 1906, laid up on Dec 7, 1981 and scrapped in 1986. In the movie, she is wearing the paint scheme of Oglebay-Norton, the last shipping company to operate her.
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After the release of the movie, the original car that fell apart in front of Daley Plaza was roped off in front of River Oaks Theater in Calumet City, Illinois.
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On one occasion, John Landis went in to John Belushi's trailer and found a gigantic pile of coke on a table inside, which he flushed down the toilet. Belushi attacked him when he came back, Landis knocked him down with a single punch and Belushi collapsed into tears (Landis denies this ever happened).
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The Howard Johnson's in the film was the real-life O'Hare Oasis, located on the Illinois Tollway. The Oases were tollway service plazas.
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The stage show of the Blues Brothers at the Palace Hotel Ballroom is called "The Blues Brothers Rhythm and Blues Revue" in the movie. This is likely an homage to the 1955 variety show called "Rhythm and Blues Revue". This original show saw Cab Calloway performing the song "Minnie the Moocher" as he again does in "The Blues Brothers".
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2000 list of the 500 movies nominated for the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
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The premise of the underlying plot was somewhat unrealistic. It would be unlikely that a church-owned orphanage would have to pay a property tax bill since, in Illinois, as in much of the rest of the world, property owned by religious groups and other not-for-profit organizations is tax exempt. However, while the script was being written, a legislative proposal to tax such property was under consideration.
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At their concert, Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) uses a Shure 520DX "Green Bullet" blues harp microphone.
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The motor home driven by The Good Ole Boys is referred to as a "Winnebago". However, it is a Southwind, approximately a 1978 model, manufactured by Fleetwood. Winnebago is a manufacturer of motor homes, but has nothing to do with the Southwind company.
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Jake and Elwood steal the speaker from Oscar F. Mayer grammar school.
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Dan Aykroyd tasked Howard Shore; then the musical director of Saturday Night Live (1975); to find professional musicians for the Blues Brothers Band. Shortly thereafter, Shore began his collaboration with director David Cronenberg, which included The Fly (1986). Kathleen Freeman appeared in the original, The Fly (1958).
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In the scene when Jake and Elwood are questioning Mrs. Tarantino in the whereabouts of the two members of their band, they do it as a sort of a Dragnet (1951) spoof. Dan Akyroyd who played Elwood would later appear as Joe Friday in the comedy Dragnet (1987).
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A distressing number of viewers have failed to recognize that the entire premise of The Blues Brothers follows the theme of "comic impossibility," or comic amusement, where the normal rules of suspension of disbelief and physics do not apply. That fifty police cars would pile on top of each other, that the police would follow the Blues Brothers and destroy a shopping mall and follow them at ridiculous speeds through downtown Chicago, that the Nazi car fell from a height higher than the Sears tower, that the Blues Mobile flipped around backwards and landed on its wheels, that the Blues brothers survived a missile attack and a building demolition attack (the St. Regis hotel where they were staying--all of these are part of the theme of comic amusement where the normal rules of physics do not apply. It's supposed to be more like a comic book than a real-life drama.
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When riding up the elevator at the courthouse, near the end of the movie, to the eleventh floor, the camera shows the buttons. They go eleven then thirteen, whereas many buildings do not have a thirteenth floor.
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A book titled "Blues Brothers: Private", written and designed by Judith Belushi-Pisano and Tino Insana was released to compliment the film. It takes the form of paperwork and clippings collected by Sister Mary Stigmata (the character played by Kathleen Freeman in the film) and stored in her personal files. Among other things, it reveals that Carrie Fisher's character in the movie is named Camille Ztdetelik and came with a detachable replica of the poster used to promote the band's gig at the Palace Hotel Ballroom.
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Marks the only time competing actors John Candy and John Belushi appeared in the same scene in a movie together. Belushi and Candy were often competing for the same roles, being the same kind of rotund, over-the-top slapstick Second City/SNL performer. For example, Candy got a role as Aykroyd's zany rival in "The Great Outdoors", a role probably originally envisioned for Belushi. Candy and Belushi also both starred in "1941" but had no scenes together in that film.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 2004 list of 400 movies nominated for the top 100 America's Greatest Music in the Movies for the song "Think."
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When the leader of the Illinois nazi's chases after the Blues Brothers in the final big chase, you hear Richard Wagner's 'Walkürenritt' (ride of the Valkyrie). These Walküren were mythological females, bringing back the dead from the battlefield to Walhalla. They ride on horses through the sky, which is parodied when the nazi's in their car are launched in the air.
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Maury Sline (Steve Lawrence) mentions Lake Wazzapamani while telling the Blues Brothers where to perform their big show. Lake Wazzapamani is also claimed by Curly Howard and Larry Fine (Curly & Moe of The Three Stooges, respectively) as their birthplace in the Three Stooges short No Census, No Feeling (1940).
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The speaker that Elwood and Jake tie to the roof of the Bluesmobile is a Canadian CLM model 927290P air raid siren.
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The film's production schedule in 1979 is reflected in a scene about 30 minutes into the movie when Jake & Elwood are driving towards the transient hotel. In a medium-shot, there is an image of a movie theatre marquee listing a "$1.75 special" ($7.10 in 2022 adjusted for inflation) for three films: Escape from Alcatraz (1979), The Warriors (1979), and Up in Smoke (1978). The first two films were entirely 1979 releases in real life, while the last film was released late in 1978 but became a cult hit and a huge box office sensation (which kept it in fairly wide distribution long enough to share theaters in 1979 with films that were much more recent releases).
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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.
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The line about the "handy dandy notebook" and the mail song were deleted from the final cut of this movie.
13 different Dodge Monaco's were purchased at auction to be used as the Bluesmobile. When all 13 cars died, they tried to continue using these dead cars in a project called "13 Ghost Cars". It was never greenlit.
In the opening sequence, one of the two guards escorting Jake to be checked out of prison is Jerry Orbach. He is a Broadway actor and most noted as "Baby's" father in Dirty Dancing and as Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order. Died in 2004.
During the car chase in the mall, Jake and Elwood drive through a formalwear shop. The reflection of an Oldsmobile dealership is visible, with the last 4 letters "A S T O". This is likely a reference to DePasto Oldsmobile from Animal House.
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Crawdaddy! reporter Miami Mitch (Glazer) wrote a novelization of the film based on an earlier version of Dan Aykroyd's screenplay, which is quite different from the film version and mainly focuses on tracking down all the different band members in different places. Miami Mitch had previously written the liner notes to the Blues Brothers' 1978 debut album "Briefcase Full of Blues" that included referenced so their youth in the orphanage and the influence that Curtis had on their lives.
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On the set, there was a version (on cassette) the Blues Brothers band did of "Rawhide" that included the lyrics "Stun 'em, shock 'em, kill 'em, ride 'em in, cut 'em out.. Rawhide. It was recorded but never used.
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Ralph Foody is a Chicago police dispatcher in this film. In Raw Deal (1986) he was a Chicago police captain. He also played a police detective in Code Of Silence (1985).
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Elwood's license number, B263-1655-2187, unfortunately isn't for someone by the name of Elwood Blues. By dissecting the license number, you can find out information about the holder. Birthdate: July 1, 1952 (Dan Aykroyd's birthday). Gender: Male. First Initial: D. Middle Initial: E. Last Name: Starts with a B, followed by a guttural or sibilant (C, G, J, K, Q, S, X, or Z), followed by a short liquid (R), followed by a dental (D or T). The driver's license number turns out to be what Dan Aykroyd's license number would be, if he had obtained an Illinois license, simply substituting the leading "A" with the "B" for "Blues"; thus the number shown in the film is a "hybrid", and is an invalid Illinois number. The book "Blues Brothers: Private" by Judith Jacklin (Judith Belushi-Pisano) gives Elwood's birthday as December 6, 1953. Therefore, Elwood's driver's license number should have been B420-2105-3347.
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In an interview with John Amos on Howard Stern, Amos, who met Howard's writer in a steam bath club, said that John Belushi "swore by them," which might have to do with Belushi in the steam bath scene.
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Elwood and Jake get champagne and Elwood uses the wrong glass. Symbolizing The duo, tall and skinny, short and fat.
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[1:19:00]At Bob's Country Bunker, the Blues Brothers perform "Gimme Some Lovin". The original song is selected on a jukebox in Mr. Destiny (1990) by John Belushi's brother, Jim Belushi.
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The dive hotel Elwood and Jake go to looks just like the hotel room that Kirk Douglas was in when he was running from the bad guys in The Fury (1978). The scenes in the movies were in Chicago and next to the El trains.
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The movie is part of the german "KulFaZ" series. Thus, it was aired as the 4th entry in that series in July 2022 on german TV station Tele5. (KulFaZ is a german abbreviation, means "the best cult films ever". 2 hosts present the flick by giving background information.) They rated the movie after watching it; Blues Brothers achieved amazing 54 out of 60 points and reached the first place on the KulFaZ list.
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The pinball machines visible in Bob's Country Bunker are from left to right Gottlieb's 4 Square (1971), Bally's Odds & Evens (1973), and Williams' Blue Chip (1976)
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[28:38]While driving through the mall parking lot, Jake calls Elwood "Motörhead". Later in the movie, a restaurant called "Lemmy's" can be seen inside the mall during the car chase scene. Lemmy was the singer for Motorhead.
Steven Spielberg appears in this film as a favor to director John Landis, who frequently casts fellow directors in small roles. Spieberg has done the same in three of his films: Francois Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park (1993), and David Lynch in The Fabelmans (2022).
Filmed during the summer & fall of 1979 (with a few re-shoots into early 1980) and released worldwide in the latter half of 1980. Contrary to some claims, the film was not a flop although due to its spiraling budget it was not the massive hit Universal Studios had hoped for on it's initial release. However it proved to be extremely popular on home video rental when it was released the following year and was easily the best selling Betamax cassette for the distributors in 1981.
Murphy Dunne also played a piano player in High Anxiety (1977) and The Big Bus (1976).
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In Curtis's basement room there is a Kewanee Type R boiler. Kewanee Boiler Corp was located in Kewanee IL 150 miles west of Chicago. They manufactured commercial and residential boilers from 1868 until 2002. Their pressure guages and cast iron furnace doors are now highly prized collectibles.
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Jake's jilted fiancée was originally supposed to be blonde.
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Sharon Schaffer's debut as a stunt double.
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The following amounts are adjusted for inflation in 2022:
- The $23.07 given back to Jake Blues when he gets his belongings back upon his release comes out to $82.44
- The June 6, 1979 version of the screenplay by Aykroyd and Landis is almost identical to the extended DVD cut of the film, except that it features a deleted scene right at the start. After being released from jail, Jake is taken to a whorehouse located behind the prison by Elwood. They meet a madam called Cecille and three hookers, Connie, Penny and Streak (who has short black hair with a pink streak down one side). Cecille picks out Streak for Jake. Elwood asks for a cup of tea, and Penny puts a kettle on. Connie offers to show Elwood how to play a video game on the TV set, but even before the tea is ready, Jake is done and hands Cecille the only money he has, $23.07 ($82.44 in 2022 adjusted for inflation). After they leave, Jake asks Elwood what happened to their Cadillac (their first lines in the movie)
- [13:15] The $5,000 that the orphanage owes in property tax (the plot for the entire movie) comes out to $17,868.41
- [51:13]The waiter (Paul Reubens) quotes $120.00 for the Dom Perignon champagne. This comes out to $428.84. The $10 soup comes out to $28.59
- [1:08:31]The $350 that Ray offers to buy back the amplifiers from Murph comes out to $1250.79. Murph had paid $800 ($2858.95) just 6 months prior
- The $2000 that Ray wants for the keyboard ("I'll throw in the black keys for free") $7147.37
- [1:14:10]The estimated $8 in change after the phone booth at the Howard Johnson's comes crashing down comes out to $25.02
- [1:22:09]After The Blues Brothers play Rawhide at Bob's Country Bunker, there is a sign next to one of the pinball machines warning minors that there is a five hundred dollar fine. The rest of the sign is illegible. $500 in 1980 comes out to 1786.84
- [1:25:17]After the band plays at Bob's Country Bunker, Bob tells Jake that the band drank $300 ($1072.10) in beer. In 1980, the average price of a bottle of beer was about $1.50 ($5.36). That means the ten members of the band drank about 200 beers, or about 20 each, that night
- The $1400 that Jake tells the former bouncer to take to Ray's Music exchange comes out to $5003.16
- The receipt stamped by the tax assessor clerk (Steven Spielberg) is #6829, dated August 9, 1979, and correctly reflects that $5,000 ($20,281.07 in 2022 adjusted for inflation) cash for St. Helen of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage was received from "Jake & Elwood Blues", with an address of 1060 West Addison, Chicago, Illinois (Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs). He signs the receipt "R.J. Daley", a reference to the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, for whom the plaza through which they drove (with the Pablo Picasso sculpture) was named.
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For the church scene, the production team recruited a professional gospel choir and recruited from local dance schools and put an advert out for adults under 30 with gymnastic experience.
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The film was parodied in The Unpredictable Michael Barrymore Live (1983) (Video).
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"gruppenfuhrer" means "group leader" in German.
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Carrie Fisher (Mystery Woman) & Cindy Fisher (Eldest daughter at the Chez Paul, whom Jake was trying to "buy") are not related.
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According to the American Film Institute Catalog entry for this film, concert attire worn by Roy Orbison inspired the outfits worn by The Blues Brothers.
Final feature film for Cab Calloway.
Paul Shaffer, the pianist with the Saturday Night Live (1975) band was cast in this film, but was unable to participate due to contract obligations with the show and was replaced by Murphy Dunne.
The Mystery Woman's red car is a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix.
On the wall above and behind Burton Mercer (John Candy) in his office are photos of the then late Mayor Richard J. Daley and the mayor of Chicago at the time this film was made Jane Byrne.
The resolution for the Blu-Ray (HD) video is 1292x708 if you count the black bars on the sides, 1192x708 for the picture itself.
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Cindy Fisher (the eldest daughter in the Chez Paul restaurant scene whom Jake Blues tried to buy) turned 20 during filming.
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Sheilah Wells (Claire; Bob's wife at Bob's Country Bunker) had her 38th birthday during filming.
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Chaka Khan: In the choir at The Triple Rock Church.
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Frank Oz: Just before the Bluesmobile crashes through the Toys"R"Us, a man asks if they have a "Miss Piggy", while holding up a a stuffed Grover toy. This is a nod to Oz, the man who provides both Muppets' voices (a toy version of two more Muppets Oz also performed are visible in the same shot: Animal is sitting next to the counter and Cookie Monster is visible on a shelf in the background). The man with the toy is Gary McLarty, the Stunt Coordinator of this film, and of "National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)."
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Paul Reubens: the waiter serving Jake and Elwood, when they go to find Mr. Fabulous.
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Judy Jacklin: A waitress when Jake and Elwood meet with Murph and The Magictones.
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John Landis: The state trooper driving the second car, the one that shows up after the first car calls for backup, that chases the Bluesmobile through the shopping mall.
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John Landis: [filmmakers] Appearances by Frank Oz and Steven Spielberg.
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John Landis: [Ipanema] The music in the elevator.
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John Landis: [See You Next Wednesday] on the roadside billboard the cops were hiding behind.
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