Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Blues Brothers


The movie clearly set the record for number of cars destroyed in its final car chase. They had a full-time garage to restore the cars to drivable condition. I wondered how much that all cost, and it turns out, not much. Not for the cars, anyway. They bought a lot of clapped-out highway patrol cars from California, for $400 a pop. Junked them afterward. Filming the chase in the city streets of Chicago was a real challenge, though, as the cars really were going that fast, they didn’t undercrank the cameras. So some of the takes were up to a mile long, and they had to have assistant directors in every doorway and at every cross street. Very labor intensive.

It was a minor miracle that they were allowed to shoot in the Chicago streets at all. I’m sure Mayor Daley would not have gone for it, but Jane Byrne wanted to show the city as a good location. She even granted permission to take over Daley Plaza for several days with hundreds of extras.

The other famous scene of wanton destruction was in an abandoned mall that they had to dress from one end to the other, replacing all the plate glass with candy glass, filling the stores with stuff, and then using dozens and dozens of stunt performers to jump out of the way as the cars came speeding by.

But that’s just the technical stuff. I really love this movie. It is the very definition of “over the top.” By the time they dropped that Ford Pinto from half a mile over the city, I was ready to believe anything. Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi are terrific, and don’t disgrace themselves at all when performing with some of the greatest names in rhythm and blues: James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and my personal favorite, Cab Calloway. The musical numbers are just great. It’s just one of the most fun movies ever made. Too bad the sequel stunk up the place.