Released in 1980, The Blues Brothers is one of the great comedy films. It’s also one of the few good films based off of SNL characters. In this episode we will revisit the movie and try to understand why it is critically acclaimed.
We can’t discuss The Blues Brothers without bringing up the tragic death of co-star John Belushi. After the release of The Blues Brothers it would seem Belushi was destined for stardom. He had a very successful four year tenure at Saturday Night Live as one of the original cast members of the 1975 season. He was able to gain some notoriety thanks to his bombastic energy, wild demeanor, and proclivity for physical comedy. During this time and the rest of his career, Belushi would struggle with drugs which cost him his job at SNL more than once.
After the wild success of National Lampoon’s Animal House Belushi was poised for another great success with The Blues Brothers. He was, of course, successful.
The next two years would not see the same fortune, however. Belushi was the star in a couple of not-so-well-received films, Continental Divide and Neighbors.
By the time 1982 came around, Belushi was a mess. Those close to him reported him a constant state of disarray. His clothes were dirty, he had clearly not bathed, and his apartment was a disaster. He was busy working on the script for a film titled Noble Rot which he was desperately attempting to sell to Paramount Pictures.
On March 5, 1982 Belushi was discovered dead in his apartment by his personal trainer. His cause of death was ruled to be combined drug intoxication. The drugs in his system were cocaine and heroine. His occasional drug dealer, Catherine Evelyn Smith, was eventually extradited and sentenced to a 15 month sentence on manslaughter charged.
Depsite his premature death, Belushi has left a lasting impact on the comedy community. He has been noted as the greatest SNL cast member of all time. To this day, comedians are still influenced by his unique to comedy. It was a tragic loss for the community and he won’t be forgotten.