The Blues Brothers (film)

The Blues Brothers
Movie poster with two of the main characters on the right-side of the image: They are both wearing black suits, hats, and sunglasses and facing forward. The man on the right is resting his arm on the shoulder of the man on the left. A police car is present on the left side of the image behind them. At the top of the image is the tagline, "They'll never get caught. They're on a mission from God." At the bottom of the poster is the title of the film, cast names, and production credits.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Landis
Produced by Robert K. Weiss
Written by
Based on The Blues Brothers
by Dan Aykroyd
and John Belushi
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Stephen M. Katz
Edited by George Folsey, Jr.
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • June 20, 1980 (1980-06-20)
Running time
132 minutes [1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million [2]
Box office $115.2 million [3]

The Blues Brothers is a 1980 American musical crime comedy film directed by John Landis. [4] It stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from " The Blues Brothers" musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live. The film's screenplay was written by Aykroyd and Landis. It features musical numbers by rhythm and blues (R&B), soul, and blues singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. The film is set in and around Chicago, Illinois, where it was filmed. It features non-musical supporting performances by John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier, and Henry Gibson.

The story is a tale of redemption for paroled convict Jake and his brother Elwood, who set out on "a mission from God" to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised. To do so, they must reunite their R&B band and organize a performance to earn $5,000 needed to pay the orphanage's property tax bill. Along the way, they are targeted by a destructive "mystery woman", Neo-Nazis, and a country and western band—all while being relentlessly pursued by the police.

Universal Studios, which had won the bidding war for the film, was hoping to take advantage of Belushi's popularity in the wake of Saturday Night Live, Animal House, and the Blues Brothers' musical success; it soon found itself unable to control production costs. The start of filming was delayed when Aykroyd, new to film screenwriting, took six months to deliver a long and unconventional script that Landis had to rewrite before production, which began without a final budget. On location in Chicago, Belushi's partying and drug use caused lengthy and costly delays that, along with the destructive car chases depicted onscreen, made the final film one of the most expensive comedies ever produced.

Concerns that the film would fail limited its initial bookings to less than half those a film of its magnitude normally received. Released in the United States on June 20, 1980, it received mostly positive reviews. It earned just under $5 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross over $115 million in theaters worldwide before its release on home video. It has become a cult classic, spawning the sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, 18 years later, which was a critical and commercial failure.


Jake Blues is released from prison after serving three years for armed robbery, and is picked up by his brother Elwood in a battered former Mount Prospect police car, replacing their old Cadillac. Jake approves it as "the new Bluesmobile" after Elwood demonstrates its capabilities by jumping an open drawbridge. The brothers visit the Roman Catholic orphanage where they were raised, and learn from Sister Mary Stigmata that it will be closed unless $5,000 in property taxes is collected. During a sermon by the Reverend Cleophus James at the Triple Rock Baptist church, Jake has an epiphany: They can re-form the Blues Brothers Band, which broke up while Jake was in prison, and raise the money to pay the tax bill.

That night, Elwood is pulled over for running a red light, and the state troopers attempt to arrest him for driving with a suspended license (resulting from 116 parking tickets and 56 moving violations). After a high-speed chase through the Dixie Square Mall, the brothers escape. The next morning, as the police arrive at the SRO where Elwood lives, a mysterious woman detonates a bomb that demolishes the building, but miraculously leaves Jake and Elwood unharmed, and saves them from being arrested.

Jake and Elwood begin tracking down members of the band. Trombonist Tom "Bones" Malone, drummer Willie "Too Big" Hall, rhythm guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and keyboardist Murphy "Murph" Dunne are now performing as a lounge band, Murph and the Magictones, at a Holiday Inn, and quickly agree to rejoin. Trumpeter Alan Rubin, now the maître d' at an expensive restaurant, turns them down, but the brothers refuse to leave the restaurant until he relents. On their way to meet the final two band members, saxophonist "Blue Lou" Marini and guitarist Matt "Guitar" Murphy, the brothers find the road blocked by a Nazi Party demonstration on a bridge; Elwood runs them off the bridge into a Jackson Park lagoon. Marini and Murphy, who now run a soul food restaurant, ignore the advice of Murphy's wife and rejoin the band. The reunited group obtain instruments and equipment from Ray's Music Exchange, for which Ray accepts an IOU.

As Jake attempts to book a gig, the mystery woman blows up the phone booth the brothers are using; once again, they are miraculously unhurt. The band stumbles into a gig at Bob's Country Bunker, a honky-tonk outside of the city. They win over the rowdy crowd by playing the theme to Rawhide and " Stand By Your Man," but run up a bar tab higher than their pay, and infuriate the country band that was actually booked for the gig, the Good Ol' Boys.

Realizing that they need one big show to raise the necessary $5,000, the brothers persuade their old agent to book the Palace Hotel Ballroom, north of Chicago. They mount a loudspeaker atop the Bluesmobile and drive all over the Chicago metropolitan area promoting the concert—and alerting the police, the Illinois Nazis, and the Good Ol' Boys of their whereabouts. The ballroom is packed with blues fans, police officers, and the Good Ol' Boys. Jake and Elwood perform two songs, then sneak offstage and leave the band to continue the show. A record company executive offers them a $10,000 cash advance on a recording contract, more than enough to pay the tax bill and Ray's IOU, and shows them how to slip out of the building unnoticed. As they make their escape via a service tunnel, they are confronted by the mystery woman, who proves to be Jake's jilted ex-fiancée. She fires a volley of shots at them from an M16 rifle but fails to hit them. Jake offers a series of ridiculous excuses, which she accepts, and the brothers escape in the Bluesmobile.

Jake and Elwood race back toward Chicago, pursued at high speeds by dozens of police cars, the Good Ol' Boys, and eventually the Nazis. They elude them all with a series of improbable maneuvers, including a miraculous, gravity-defying escape from the Nazis. At the Richard J. Daley Center, they rush inside the adjacent Chicago City Hall building with hundreds of law officers in hot pursuit. At the office of the Cook County Assessor, the brothers pay the tax bill and are arrested by the mob of law officers immediately afterward. The band is sentenced to prison, where they play " Jailhouse Rock" for a group of joyous, dancing inmates.

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