kottke.org posts about The Blues Brothers

The Making of The Blues BrothersJan 08 2013

Ned Zeman tells the story of how The Blues Brothers came to be made for Vanity Fair.

Aykroyd spends his free time speeding through outskirts and befriending coroners. Belushi, being Chicago's favorite son, does anything he wants. Everything about him -- his lunch-bucket charm, his utter lack of pretense -- makes Belushi a figure of such resounding local popularity that Aykroyd calls him "the unofficial mayor of Chicago."

A trip to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, boggles Landis. "Like being with Mussolini in Rome," he remembers. Belushi, having entered one of the stadium's crowded bathrooms, smiles and shouts, "O.K., stand back!" Everyone retreats from the urinals. Belushi does his business. Then, zipping his fly and beaming, he says, "O.K., back you go!"

"John would literally hail police cars like taxis," Mitch Glazer says. "The cops would say, 'Hey, Belushi!' Then we'd fall into the backseat and the cops would drive us home."

But the drug habit that would claim his life two years later also made Belushi a weight on the production.

One night at three, while filming on a deserted lot in Harvey, Illinois, Belushi disappears. He does this sometimes. On a hunch, Aykroyd follows a grassy path until he spies a house with a light on.

"Uh, we're shooting a film over here," Aykroyd tells the homeowner. "We're looking for one of our actors."

"Oh, you mean Belushi?" the man replies. "He came in here an hour ago and raided my fridge. He's asleep on my couch."

Only Belushi could pull this off. "America's Guest," Aykroyd calls him.

"John," Aykroyd says, awakening Belushi, "we have to go back to work."

Belushi nods and rises. They walk back to the set as if nothing happened.

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