‘Blues Brothers’ 40th anniversary: Looking back at the ‘best movie ever made in Chicago’ and its legacy
Released on June 20, 1980 and featuring the first big-screen appearance of characters from Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers was the culmination of Dan Aykroyd’s life-long quest to bring soul, blues and R&B music back to the forefront of popular culture.
“The Blues Brothers” embraced Chicago as no other film has, before or since. The movie tapped directly into the heart of the city, harnessing its energy and will to get things done on a scale bigger than anywhere else. It exploited its sense of humor and willingness to laugh at itself.
When Aykroyd first met John Belushi in 1973, he was stunned to learn that the Chicago native didn’t have much love for the blues. As their friendship deepened, so did Belushi’s understanding of and passion for the music. Eventually the duo would form their own band and push past SNL boss Lorne Michael’s resistance to perform non-comedic musical numbers on the popular sketch show.
An invitation to open for Steve Martin at a series of shows at Los Angeles’ Universal Amphitheatre led them to recruit a powerhouse band of soul and R&B veterans and tape the live Briefcase Full of Blues album. The surprising success of that record, combined with Belushi’s star-making turn as Bluto in Animal House, immediately had checkbook-waving Hollywood executives scrambling for a Blues Brothers movie. (ultimateclassicrock)
Landis said in light of how Chicago Police treated protesters at the 1968 Democratic convention, “it gave me great pleasure to drive through the Richard J. Daley Center.”
Despite that knock on his father, the current Mayor Daley calls the movie “classic” and “fun.”
But while the Daley Plaza scene occurred at the center of the city, the movie also took viewers around the world to parts of Chicago rarely seen on the big screen before. Many will never be seen again.
The original Maxwell Street Market, prominently featured, is gone. The Plymouth Hotel, where the Blues Brothers slept as L trains rumbled by, was demolished in 1991, signaling the end of the Loop’s seedier side. Most of Harvey’s closed Dixie Square Mall, site of an over-the-top car chase, has been undeveloped for a quarter-century. (Chicagosuntimes)