Archive for the ‘John Belushi’ Category

I probably should be doing about 50 other things at this very moment, but I saw this great top-50 list today and was inspired it to immediately answer it.  I made my list very, very quickly, so in plenty of ways it’s the most honest form a list like this could ever arrive in.  While the numbering is fairly arbitrary (until the top five, where shit gets definite) and while the contents could easily change as soon as five minutes from now, this is still a fairly good representation of what a top fifty movies list from me should look like.  Anyway, let’s hit it.  Links where they fit.  I eagerly await any and all comments you might make!

50. Watermelon Man (1970).

49. Fletch (1985).

48. The Great Silence (1968).

47. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954).

46. The Hit (1984).

45. Knightriders (1981).

44. The Night Of The Hunter (1955).

43. Of Unknown Origin (1983).

42. Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973).

41. Prime Cut (1972).

40. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997).

39. Coffy (1973).

38. Trainspotting (1996).

37. In Bruges (2008).

36. Quick Change (1990).

35. Collateral (2004).

34. Out Of Sight (1998).

33. Halloween (1978).

32. Magnolia (1999).

31. Raising Arizona (1987).

30. Escape From New York (1981).

29. Shogun Assassin (1980).

28. Goodfellas (1990).

27. Purple Rain (1984).

26. True Grit (2010).

25. The Unholy Three (1925).

24. My Darling Clementine (1946).

23. The Insider (1999).

22. Alligator (1980).

21. Animal House (1978).

20. High Plains Drifter (1973).

19. Freaks (1932).

18. Beverly Hills Cop (1984).

17. An American Werewolf In London (1981).


16. Predator (1987).


15. Jaws (1975).

14. Shaft (1971).

13. Evil Dead 2 (1987).


12. The Wild Bunch (1969).

11. Manhunter (1986).

10. Mother, Jugs & Speed (1976).

9. Heat (1995).

8. King Kong (1933).

7. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982).

6. Big Trouble In Little China (1986).

5. Unforgiven (1992).

4. Dawn Of The Dead (1978).

3. Ghostbusters (1984).

2. Once Upon A Time In The West (1968).


1. The Good The Bad & The Ugly (1966).


The Blues Brothers is actually a very hard one to write about, for me anyway.  Writing about this movie is exactly like writing about music: It can be interesting to do, to a point, but eventually you really just need to listen to the song.  As much as I enjoy reading about and writing about movies, ultimately movies are made to be watched, and The Blues Brothers, maybe more than most, is easier watched than pontificated over.

Maybe it’s because, of all the comedies of the era, The Blues Brothers (arguably) comes the closest to pure cinema.  It’s about the music, the motion, the stunts, the spectacle, and the dancing, with frequent pitstops for jokes, both of the visual and the uttered variety.  There’s not a lot of wasted energy.  It’s an exuberant entertainment machine.

Also, while it may not necessarily be my favorite comedy of its era (though it’s up there), The Blues Brothers is one of the most unassailable.  It’s hard to think of a moment that doesn’t belong.  It’s hard to think of a single frame that could be changed.  You can’t fairly say that about some of the other classics.    Ghostbusters has that weird moment where Dan Aykroyd gets head from a ghost.  Animal House has the borderline-racist scene in the black night club (“Do you mind if we dance with your dates?”)  Caddyshack has that girl’s Irish accent (“No ya doon’t…!”)  The Blues Brothers has nothing like any of those.  It’s pretty damn determined, pretty damn thorough, pretty damn unstoppable.

Plenty has already been written about the music of The Blues Brothers.  It’s hard to say much new about it, but it’s also hard to understate its importance.  The Blues Brothers is a landmark film in the realm of American R&B and soul music.  It brought a renewed spotlight to crucial performers, some of whom were beginning to be forgotten at the time.  It rejuvenated the careers of James Brown, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin.  It features a show-stopping climactic performance by Cab Calloway, who also plays a major role.  It pauses briefly for an extended cameo by John Lee Hooker.  The Blues Brothers Band, which Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi fronted on-screen and off, was stocked with serious musicians, including Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn, of Booker T. & The MG’s and literally hundreds of classic records on the Stax label.  This movie was an atomic bomb of taste-making.  I can hardly be the only scrawny runt from the suburbs whose record collection owes plenty to the fact that The Blues Brothers exists.  Music is one of the most immediate factors which can date a movie.  That’s not a problem The Blues Brothers has to worry about, probably ever.  This movie’s sound is evergreen.

Do I exaggerate?

That’s Chaka Khan in the front row of JB’s choir, by the way.  Not the first or the last notable face to flash by in a movie which also includes Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, Paul Reubens, John Candy, Henry Gibson, Kathleen Freeman (you’d know her when you saw her), Charles Napier (him too), Joe Walsh, Steven Spielberg, and Mr. T (he’s uncredited).  This movie’s IMDB page has you covered for your Trivia Night.

It’s a classic.  Let’s stop talking about it and go watch it again.

Anthology Film Archives will be screening The Blue Brothers in August, as part of its stellar Hollywood Musicals Of The 1980s film series.  (Read what I wrote about Streets Of Fire, Purple Rain, and The Muppet Movie!)  Also, a new Blu-Ray edition is landing in stores on Tuesday July 26th, in case you can’t make it to the theater.


Posted: August 12, 2010 in Comedy, John Belushi, Movies, Opinions, Tributes

The John Belushi biopic is happening.  Belushi is one of my faves.  Far be it from me to presume that I know anything at all, but all the same,  I just posted this highly-subjective editorial about how I feel about the idea.

Constructive suggestion: How about a Jim Belushi biopic instead?


No, No, No, No, No, No, No: John Belushi Biopic Is Happening.

Thursday, 8/12/2010

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that a story of John Belushi’s abbreviated life has entered the script stage.  I’m one of the biggest John Belushi fans you know.  If I don’t want to see this movie, its producers need to worry about who will.
The reason why I don’t want to see a John Belushi biopic is because his story is a tragedy. It’s the story of a legitimate genius whose demons drove him to an unfairly early death. The reason why I still watch and rewatch and cherish vintage Belushi performances is because his performances are alive with joy, and they still, thirty years later, are incomparable acts of hilarious anarchy that retain all of their original power to entertain. John Belushi still brings joy to the world, and what’s more, all modern comedians who are compared to him pale at the process. You can enjoy modern comedians, but it’s not fair to compare them to Belushi. They just can’t.
That said, Belushi’s widow is on board with this project, and the super-successful Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover) is attached as producer – although he isn’t committed to direct as yet. With this kind of pedigree it’s reasonable to assume that this possible cinematic endeavor will have a stamp of quality upon it. But again, I don’t want to see it. I’m just not a fan of biopics anyway. Best case scenario, they’re showcases for actors who want awards. Would you rather watch Ray again, or would you rather put on an actual Ray Charles record? I know where I stand on that question.
Here’s who the Hollywood Reporter suggests will be considered in the casting checklist: Jack Black (too old – Black is in his 40s and Belushi died at 33), Zach Galifianakis (same deal), Seth Rogen (won’t do it), Jonah Hill (can’t dance), Tyler Labine (who?), and Ethan Suplee (not bloody likely). Before he rocked the pillars of cop shows in The Shield, Michael Chiklis played Belushi in an awfully-received biopic in the ‘80s – maybe he can weigh in on the benefits of taking on this thankless role. On the basis of looks alone, the modern entertainers who are the best Belushi lookalikes are Artie Lange, musician Greg Dulli, and Hurley from Lost, but I wouldn’t wish this kind of a tough job on any of those guys.
Compare this to the Richard Pryor situation. Richard Pryor wrote his own autobiography, and had his name on a 2004 biopic that somewhat inexplicably starred Eddie Griffin. Before his death in 2005, he signed off on a feature biopic that would have starred Mike Epps. (Marlon Wayans is now supposedly playing the role.) Pryor had a fascinating early life and he legitimately changed America when he hit it big, but even so, and even if he approved of the idea, I STILL wouldn’t want to see a Richard Pryor biopic. I just don’t want to witness the sad parts of my heroes’ lives. I have no need to wallow in their pain. I don’t get off on prurient details, the way that gossip aficionados seem to do.  I only ever wish the best for talented people, especially the ones whose work has been meaningful to me.  I take inspiration from what they achieved, and that’s the only part of their lives that I feel I have any right to, if any.
That’s just my opinion. I’m sure a lot of people feel differently. As for me, I’ll be over here with my well-worn DVD copies of Animal House, The Blues Brothers, 1941, and the early seasons of SNL.