The Blues Brothers: An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic

Atlantic Monthly. Mar. 2024. 480p. ISBN 9780802160980. $28. FILM
The Blues Brothers has retained its prominent place in the cultural zeitgeist 40-plus years after its release; its iconic line “We’re on a mission from God” is one of the most memorable in movie history. The film’s longevity is a testament not only to its cameos from music legends—Aretha Franklin, James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles—but also to the comedic stars at its center: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Their time on Saturday Night Live, as part of the show’s first cast, is given its proper due in this book by de Visé (King of the Blues), which takes readers into the chaos of the making of the film and its aftermath. The narrative becomes even more riveting as filming of The Blues Brothers kicks off, and it’s also more tragic as it shows the steady decline that ultimately led to Belushi’s tragic death in 1982.
VERDICT Will be popular with fans of pop culture and aficionados of film and TV history, as it not only covers the creation of The Blues Brothers abut also serves as a dual biography of Aykroyd and Belushi.
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