Challenge Week 33: The Blues Brothers


I didn’t know which way this one would go, frankly – comedies from the ’80s are pretty hit or miss with me. I knew it was a musical of some sort, which is a bonus, but I didn’t know really what kind of music or how it was integrated into the film. I must admit, I was worried for the first few minutes, which didn’t start off anything like I expected – instead we’re in a prison as Jake Blues (John Belushi) is released into his brother Elwood’s (Dan Ackroyd) custody.

The moment I knew I was going to love this movie was when they go to their childhood home, a Catholic boarding school, and see “The Penguin”, one of the nuns who raised them. She tells them the school needs money, which sets them off on their “mission from God,” but the main point is SHE FLOATS EVERYWHERE LIKE A BANSHEE. That bit of random absurdity was all I needed to be invested, and thankfully, as the boys get the band back together to try to raise the money for the school, the absurdity never quits.


Over the course of the movie, they’re wanted by the police, a bar owner they stiff, a rival band, a mysterious assassin, and a group of Neo-Nazis, which all culminates in one of the most amazing car chases I’ve ever seen. In the midst of all this is great classic rhythm and blues from, not joking, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, and Aretha Franklin. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t recognize all of these folks initially because classic R&B isn’t my main genre of choice, but this stuff is awesome – Franklin is a standout among consistently wonderful performances.

Anyway. This is one I’ve had at a low level on my radar, but probably wouldn’t have gotten to for quite a while, and I am SO GLAD this is in my life now. If I had to guess which movie from my challenge so far will get the most rewatches in my lifetime, it would be this one.

Thank you, Matthew!


Stats and stuff…

1980, USA
directed by John Landis, written by Dan Ackroyd and John Landis
starring John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Carrie Fisher, Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Candy

I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how The Blues Brothers entered my chart:

The Blues Brothers > I Was a Male War Bride
The Blues Brothers > Gone Baby Gone
The Blues Brothers > Raw Deal
The Blues Brothers > Wings of Desire
The Blues Brothers < L.A. Confidential
The Blues Brothers < Playtime
The Blues Brothers < Dog Day Afternoon
The Blues Brothers < Pride & Prejudice (2005)
The Blues Brothers > The Cat and the Canary (1927)
The Blues Brothers < 12 Angry Men
The Blues Brothers < Where the Wild Things Are
The Blues Brothers > Paris je t’aime

Final #222 out of 3699 films on my chart (94%)

It is now my #1 John Landis film, my #1 Dan Ackroyd film, my #3 Carrie Fisher film, my #3 Absurd Comedy, my #7 Action Comedy, my #4 Buddy Film, my #4 Chase Movie, and my #2 film of 1980.

The Blues Brothers was recommended by Matthew Thomas, a friend from the Flickcharters group on Facebook. Averaging together this #222 ranking with my #1153 ranking of his other film, Videodrome, gives Matthew an average ranking of 687.

A few quotes…

Elwood: We’re on a mission from God.

Police Dispatcher: Use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers HAS been approved.

Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western.

Elwood: Illinois Nazis.
Jake: I hate Illinois Nazis.

Elwood: It’s 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.

A few more screenshots…