Friends, it was indeed 40 years ago today when Dan Aykroyd as well as the late and great John Belushi saw the film debut of their characters of Elwood and Jake Blues – in John Landis’ The Blue Brothers. A musical comedy that may not have found it’s audience when it initially opened a month and three days after Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – coming in second place on it’s opening weekend with the sequel to Star Wars holding onto the top spot. But over the years thanks to not just the VHS and DVD rentals but the near-constant airings of The Blues Brothers on television – I think it is safe to say that the film has finally been embraced by pop culture aficionados by and large.
Granted the 1980 film wasn’t the first time that Jake and Elwood Blues had been seen – that occurred two years earlier thanks to Saturday Night Live and opening for Steve Martin at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheatre. In actuality the genesis of the characters began all the way back in 1973 – when Belushi stopped by the 505 club in Toronto, which was owned by Aykroyd. Flash forward a mere seven years later and not only had the duo managed to line up an extremely impressive roster of musicians, released a double platinum album with Briefcase Full of Blues but they had now produced a feature length musical comedy. One that sees Jake and Elwood racing against time to secure the necessary funds to save a Catholic orphanage, crossing paths with dreaded Illinois Nazis as well as a country and western band, and attempting to escape the long arm of the law – all the while performing alongside the likes of the legendary Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. In addition to reminding people they encounter on their journey that they were “on a mission from God”.
I was lucky enough to catch The Blues Brothers at the 62 Drive-In – that local outdoor theater of my youth that I have managed to talk a bit about on both the Saturday Frights as well as Pop Culture Retrorama podcast. I loved the film then and 40 years later I still find it has the ability to crack me up every time that I get a chance to sit down and watch it. In fact I think so highly of the movie that I chose it as the subject of the ninth episode of the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast. So if you will pardon the shameless plug – why not give it a listen – you might be surprised by the amount of hurdles that everyone involved in the film had to overcome for The Blues Brothers to reach the silver screen.
In closing out this nod to the 40th anniversary of The Blues Brothers – I would like to know when you first saw the film, why not share your memories of the movie in the comments?
Friends, this particular Pop Culture Retrorama podcast is running a bit late to say the very least. The show today is all about 1980’s The Blues Brothers in addition to how the likes of Dan Aykroyd and the late and great John Belushi came up with the characters of Elwood and Jake Blues. In truth this show should have been out weeks ago but as I touch upon in the episode itself there was quite a bit of research to be done in addition to the fact there is a whole lot of stories that have been told about the making of this cult classic musical. That is what The Blues Brothers is by the way, sure there is comedy and some amazing car chases and a record breaking number of vehicle pile-ups – but at it’s heart this still amazing film is 100% a musical. If nothing else after listening to the podcast I hope I am able to help you see the light on that matter.
For this podcast on The Blues Brothers I delve into the rather interesting backstory of how John and Dan met and became friends – it might surprise you how long the basic idea of the characters were gestating in the mind of Aykroyd. I also discuss some of the hurdles the duo had to overcome before getting the chance to bring Jake and Elwood to the big screen – as mentioned in the show some of the mind-boggling troubles with the production of the film itself was revealed thanks to an amazing 2012 article I found from Vanity Fair by Ned Zeman. If you really want to learn about some of the more heavier aspects of 1980’s The Blues Brothers you owe it to yourself to read Zeman’s article.
As I always do with the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast – I have shared my personal connection to the subject matter. In this case when I first saw the film and my happy recollections of how my Father responded to the film’s humor. In addition I have provided a few brief clips from the film itself and even a little bit of audio goodness by way of the Blues Brothers band.
If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for us to cover in a future episode -or possibly you have comments on the current show itself, email them to me at VicSagePopCulture@gmail.com You can also contact me on Facebook or even Twitter. Or perhaps check out the Pop Culture Retrorama Facebook page? There you can find posts a couple of times a day – featuring vintage commercials, comic book ads and toys.
The theme used at the beginning and ending of this episode was provided by Earl Green, if you enjoy his work, make sure to check out his exceptional spot on the internet – TheLogBook.com – let him know we sent you.
I want to thank you as always for taking the time to listen to the show – I would like to ask that if you do enjoy the podcast, help to spread the word to those you know who appreciate pop culture. I hope you will enjoy my discussion of The Blues Brothers!
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