OK, now for the rest of the Blues Brothers evaluation
Aside from the cameo performances from James Brown, Ray Charles, et al, the "Blues Brothers" soundtrack is packed with some of the best selections of any soundtrack I've ever come across. (Other favorites currently include "The Big Chill", "Pulp Fiction", "Rushmore", and "The Big Lebowski"). My parents had already raised me on the Motown end of the soul spectrum, and I had become well-versed in Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. "The Blues Brothers" took that foundation and blew it through the roof. Here's a brief list of some of the fantastic tracks that aren't on the official soundtrack CD:
"Shake Your Moneymaker", Elmore James (the scene in Curtis' basement apartment)
"Soothe Me", Sam and Dave (plays right before the BB's are pulled over for running the red light)
"Hold On, I'm Comin'", Sam and Dave (follows "Soothe Me", precedes the mall chase)
"Let the Good Times Roll", Louis Jordan (the record Elwood plays in his apartment)
"Boom Boom", John Lee Hooker (played by JLH himself live on Maxwell Street)
"Your Cheatin' Heart", (I'm not sure who does this version, but I have another one by Patsy Cline), (the song playing when the BB's enter Bob's Country Bunker)
"I'm Walkin'", Fats Domino (plays when the BB's are "putting the word to the street" about the concert)
"Ride of the Valkries", Wagner (plays during the Illinois Nazi segment of the final chase)
This would be a great soundtrack by itself, but combined with everything else, it makes for one of the best soundtracks ever. The fact that the original tracks by the Blues Brothers themselves are so good is the clincher.
Bob's Country Bunker:
For better or for worse, this sequence says everything you need to know about my feelings about Country Music. To be completely honest, I do like some of the old school cowboys like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. And who can't like "The Gambler"? But whenever I go to some dance and someone puts on some Tim McGraw song, I can't help but think of Bob's Country Bunker, the Good Ole Boys, airborne beer bottles, chicken wire, and that trucker crying in his cold one during "Stand By Your Man".
Next to the Illinois Nazis, this may be the best subplot of the movie. Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher redefines the film Non Sequitur by showing up from time to time with everything from a missile launcher to a flamethrower to an AK-47 in her undying quest to take vengeance on her ex-fiancee and his dumbfounded brother.
The reason that Carrie's subplot and the movie in general is so classic is the utter deadpan attitude of the whole thing. Besides her over-the-top demolition exercises, we also see a 74 Dodge jumping the 95th street bridge, worshipers doing 15 foot hallelujiah leaps, and an entire blues band complete with horn section and four red-shag upholstered fender amps travelling in two sedans. And through it all, Jake and Elwood keep their shades on and their mugs straight, as if it was all a typical day's work.
This is also why some people don't get "The Blues Brothers". The humor is so zany and deadpan that people can't figure it out. Today's fan has gotten too used to "Dumb and Dumber" and Adam Sandler mugging for laughs with over-the-top behavior. They can't grasp the brilliant subtlety Dan Aykroyd wrote and John Landis created: a world where the joke is the very fact that there is no rimshot or laugh track.
The Final Chase:
Of course, the epitome of deadpan exaggeration is the final chase. When a car chase through a shopping mall is only the second-best chase in your movie, you know you've got something special. For the last half hour of the film, everyone from the Illinois State Police to the Good Ole Boys to the National Guard to the Illinois Nazis converge to finally try to take out the Blues Brothers in their desperate attempt to get the tax money to the Cook County Accessor's office at the Daly Plaza deep in the Chicago Loop. I've never bothered to count the sheer number of police cruisers destroyed along the way, the shots fired from handguns and assault rifles, or the number of times the Bluesmobile defies the laws of physics to evade their pusuers. All I know is that as good as the car chases are in "Bullitt", "French Connection", and "Bourne Supremacy", this one is the best.
I could go on and address The Penguin, the classic non-cameo bit roles (Sam and the Cheeze Whiz guy), the Chez Paul scene, or all the classic one-liners, but I think that would belabor the point. Maybe I'll write vol. 3 somewhere down the road, but I feel that for now, my point has been made.
READ VOL. 1