“We’re on a mission from God.”
Great car chases? Check.
For this month’s member bonus episode, our members voted for a return to great car chases, and of the movies on the list, The Blues Brothers shot to the top. Is it nostalgia that draws us all back to this film over and over again? The great musical performances? Is it that strong a comedy? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we return to our Great Car Chases series to discuss John Landis’ 1980 film The Blues Brothers.
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We Need to Talk About John Landis.
This is the fifth movie of Landis’ that we’ve discussed on the show, yet we’ve never really brought up the horrific accident on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie during Landis’ segment that killed two children and actor Vic Morrow. We figure it’s time to have that discussion and see if we can sort out the complexities of artists and art. There isn’t an easy answer in general, but it does seem clear that Landis – particularly from the accident and beyond – should be judged more harshly than, say, a director whose criminal activities didn’t take place on set.
But The Blues Brothers is more than just John Landis…
All that aside, a lot of other people were involved in The Blues Brothers, and we’re here to celebrate them, notably Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi. Clearly, they share a love for this rhythm and blues music and feel it’s important to celebrate the history of the music by including many great performers in the film like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, and John Lee Hooker. Plus, John and Dan as Jake and Elwood Blues seriously know how to perform.
But the movie is also an element of its time. Not only do we have the American Nazi party represented (even if it is to mock them), we also have the characters treating the female characters with little respect. It was a misogynistic time, and we certainly feel it here.
Looking specifically at why it’s in this series (and perhaps not our Couples on the Run series), the car chases are extravagant. Landis spent more than twice the initial budget presented by the studio and a lot of that went into creating some of the biggest car chases with the most cars destroyed than any other movie – even action movies. In fact, its record for the most cars destroyed in a film wasn’t broken until this film’s not-so-great 1998 sequel.
This is one of the eleven films born from Saturday Night Live sketches, and it’s generally considered one of the best ones. It’s certainly one of the most successful of the bunch. We spend a bit of time digging into the history, success, and longevity of these spinoffs.
Is this a film that works for younger generations or is this truly a product of its time that doesn’t work that well for people who aren’t dads? Well, we both love it but then again, we’re both dads. So maybe that’s saying something. Then again, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing rose-colored glasses. Hit it. So watch the film then tune in right here or on your favorite podcatcher. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!
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When the movie ends, our conversation begins.
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