Downplayed when it comes to the members of the Blues Brothers band. All the members are very well-known in the music industry and pretty much everyone in the world has come into contact with their work in some way, but if you hadn't seen the film you'd have no idea what they looked like. For example, Tom "Bones" Malone has worked as a sound technician, a composer, a studio musician and a producer. His resume has over 200 musicians and bands on it, including Aerosmith, Diana Ross, 50 Cent, and Frank Zappa, and the rest of the band has similar-looking resumes. Watch the video of "Dead Ringer" by Meat Loaf some time—see if any of Meat Loaf's drinking buddies look familiar...
Aluminium Christmas Trees: Someone living at 1060 West Addison is really possible; Wrigley Field has an apartment under the stands. It's been used as storage for decades but once was home to the head groundskeeper.
Backed By the Vatican: While not so during the production of the movie, in recent years they have admitted to finding it a good, religious movie.
Casting Gag: Paul Shaffer was the band's original keyboardist, but wasn't in the original film because—in addition to his SNL commitments—he was also working on Gilda Radner: Live from New York, a one-woman stage show which starred fellow former SNL regular Gilda Radner. He finally appeared in 2000 as Queen Mouset's assistant, and asks Murph if he wouldn't mind letting him have a crack at the keyboard.
Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Elwood says "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" is a Wilson Pickett song after they finish their rendition of it. While Pickett did cover the song in 1966, it was originally performed and co-written by Solomon Burke. Pickett, however, had the hit with it. When performing the theme to Rawhide, Elwood claims it is "an old Rowdy Yates tune". Rowdy Yates was Clint Eastwood's character on the show; the theme was written in 1958 by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington.
Deleted Scene: Lots of scenes were deleted from the film, later restored in an extended version. More interactions between Jake and Elwood were cut from the film, along with extended scenes from Bob's Country Bunker, the cops investigating Elwood's apartment, and the epic chase scene at the end, most noticeably when the Nazis start chasing Jake and Elwood.
Dueling Shows: Came out the same day as Can't Stop the Music, the movie starring The Village People. If you don't know which one won that fight, you probably shouldn't be surfing the Internet unsupervised.
Life Imitates Art: The shopping mall scene has a Toys "R" Us as part of a traditional enclosed shopping mall. While none existed at the time (the storefront used for the Toys "R" Us scene was believed to be the former Walgreens drugstore), the first Toys "R" Us store to be part of an enclosed shopping mall opened in California in 1985.
Missing Episode: The Blues Brothers recorded and filmed Johnny Horton's song "Sink the Bismarck" for the gig at Bob's Country Bunker. When it was decided not to use the song, the footage disappeared, and remains lost.
Missing Trailer Scene: The trailer has a Curtis ask Jake and Elwood, "How are you gonna raise $5,000 in eleven days without ripping off somebody?" This line doesn't appear in the film.
The trailer for Blues Brothers 2000 includes a deleted scene where the band lines up on a stage. Maury Sline and an unnamed gentleman are sitting in what appears to be a judging panel, and Maury says, "The Blues Brothers band? I thought you guys were all in jail!"
Old Shame: John Landis, who was more or less forced to make the sequel, was so unhappy with it when it was released that he dove right into his next film, Susan's Plan, to "cleanse his palate."
Product Placement: An extremely subtle one: John Candy's line asking for an Orange Whip. While also a cocktail,note One ounce rum, one ounce vodka, four ounces orange juice and two ounces cream, shaken and served over ice Orange Whip provided refreshments for the crew, and the costumer, Sue Dugan, was daughter of the director of sales for Orange Whip, Kenny Dugan, who asked the brand be mentioned in the film.
Production Nickname: John Belushi was nicknamed "The Black Hole" on the set, as he went through hundreds of pairs of sunglasses during production. He would do a scene and then lose the pair before filming the next one.
John Belushi's wife Judy Jacklin has a cameo as a waitress in the scene where Jake and Elwood meet with Murph and The Magictones.
The "'woman on the cutting-room floor" (Shirley Levine) in the credits is actually John Landis' mother.
The Red Stapler: The popularity of the film boosted the Ray-Ban Wayfarer, which was yet experiencing some renewed popularity thanks to the rise of the "New Music" movement. From a few thousands sold through the mid-1970s, sales rose to 18,000 during 1981 partly because of the film, bringing the model out from the verge of withdrawal.
Troubled Production: While it's obvious from all the on-screen mayhem why the movie cost so much to make (they actually dropped the Ford Pinto from a mile up, requiring a special FAA permit), there were a lot of other issues that aren't obvious on screen, as this ''Vanity Fair'' article showed:
Universal won a close bidding war with Paramount for the project, and of course they were overjoyed to have John Belushi, coming off a year when he'd starred in both a top-grossing film and a top-rate TV show and had a number one single. But they didn't have a script. After an experienced writing partner was unable to help him, Dan Aykroyd, who'd never even read a movie screenplay before, much less written one, took his time writing it. He delivered a 324-page monstrosity formatted more like free verse. Landis spent two weeks just cutting it down and converting it to something filmable.
The script was finished but the studio and the creative people hadn't settled on a budget. After the first month of filming in Chicago, where Landis kept Belushi under control and things went well, they finally saw it. "I think we've spent that much already," producer Robert K. Weiss half-joked when he saw that it was $17.5 million.
And then things went to hell. Belushi went everywhere in Chicago when he wasn't on set—and when he did, everybody was slipping him vials and packets of coke. That was in addition to what he could procure, or have procured for, himself, often consumed in his trailer or at the private bar on set he had built for himself, his longtime friends, the cast and any visiting celebrities. Carrie Fisher, whom Landis had warned to keep Belushi away from drugs if she could, said almost everyone who had a job there also dealt, and the patrons could (and did) score almost anything there. Dan Aykroyd, who unlike Belushi or Fisher kept his use under control, says there was money in the budget set aside for coke for night shoots.
After Belushi's late nights partying, he'd either be really late for unit calls, tanking almost a whole day's worth of shooting, or only an hour or two late... but then he'd go back to his trailer and sleep it off. One night, he wandered away from the set to a nearby house, where Aykroyd found him conked out on the couch after he'd raided the owner's fridge. On another, Landis went in to Belushi's trailer and found a gigantic pile of coke on a table inside, which he flushed down the toilet. Belushi attacked him when he came back, Landis knocked him down with a single punch and Belushi collapsed into tears.
Meanwhile, there was Executive Meddling to deal with. Fuming about the skyrocketing cost of the movie, Universal kept trying to get the filmmakers to replace the blues and soul stars like Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway in the case with more contemporary, successful acts like Rose Royce. Landis stuck to his guns, but because he did, some large theater chains refused to book it into theaters in white neighborhoods.
The production returned to Los Angeles for the last month of shooting, already way behind schedule and over budget. Fortunately Belushi calmed down and got it done. But right before shooting the final scene, which required him to do all sorts of onstage acrobatics while performing at the LA Palladium in front of an audience of hundreds of extras, he tried out some kid's skateboard... and fell off and seriously injured his knee. Lewis Wasserman, president and CEO of Music Corporation of America, Universal's then parent company, called the top orthopedist in LA and made him postpone his weekend until he could shoot Belushi up with enough anesthetics to get him through filming.
Fortunately, the movie was a box-office smash that has since become a Cult Classic.
What Could Have Been: Dan Aykroyd's original script was said to have been over 300 pages long, roughly the size of a phone book, since in his zeal over writing his first official screenplay, he ended up writing not just a single film but two films—the first film and a sequel that he called The Return of the Blues Brothers which in at least one documentary he described as "the Bible of the Blues Brothers" containing various bits of back story on all the characters and where they came from, but it was deemed too long and thus was scaled back. A similar thing would happen with Aykroyd's other famous property, Ghostbusters (1984).
The original script reportedly included special recruitment scenes for each band member. These scenes and many others cut from the original script are in the novelization of the film.
Legend has it that, as a gag, Aykroyd actually dressed up his first draft to look like a phone book when he turned it in.
Little Richard was asked to appear and perform in this film. He declined because he was only performing gospel, as opposed to secular music, at the time this film was made.
Jake's jilted fiancée was originally supposed to be blonde.
In the original script The Magictones were originally Mexican immigrants. Also, The Blues Brothers Band was scattered across three states. Among their new lives: Willie Hall (aka "Too Big") is a drug dealer, Steve Cropper (aka "The Colonel") is a pool shark-turned-Hutterite and Donald Dunn (aka "Duck") and Lou Marini (aka "Blue") work in different parts of security. The band took over a house in a developing neighborhood for rehearsal. To avoid the owners, Elwood detonates the home with cans of hairspray. Also, the Illinois Nazis were trying to buy the orphanage and set it up as their new headquarters.
Word of God: The novel, which is based on the original screenplay (which bares only a slight resemblance to the final version), expands on some points, such as what Elwood was doing between Jake getting locked up and the beginning of the film (he worked in an aerosol can factory as a maintenance guy, which is how he got that glue can. In a deleted scene, in fact, he is shown working at the factory on the assembly line, before going to his boss's office to tell him that he's quitting to become a preacher).