Tag Archives: Saturday Night Live

The Blues Brothers

Elwood and Jake Blues and the Bluesmobile

Image via Wikipedia

Directed by John Landis
Produced by Bernie Brillstein, George Folsey Jr, David Sosna & Robert K. Weiss
Written by Dan Aykroyd & John Landis
Starring John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Carrie Fisher
John Candy
Henry Gibson

Additional Cast

Cab Calloway as Curtis
Carrie Fisher as Mystery Woman
Aretha Franklin as Mrs. Murphy
Ray Charles as Pawn Shop Owner/Himself
James Brown as Reverend Cleophus James
John Candy as Burton Mercer
Kathleen Freeman as Sister Mary Stigmata, “The Penguin”
Henry Gibson as Head Nazi
Steve Lawrence as Maury Sline
Twiggy as Chic Lady
Frank Oz as Corrections Officer
Jeff Morris as Bob
Charles Napier as Tucker McElroy
Steven Williams as Trooper Mount
Armand Cerami as Trooper Daniel
Chaka Khan as Choir soloist
John Lee Hooker as musician on Maxwell Street
John Landis as State trooper
Stephen Bishop as police officer with broken watch
Paul Reubens as Chez Paul waiter
Steven Spielberg as Cook County Assessor’s Office Clerk

The Blues Brothers Band

John Belushi as “Joliet” Jake Blues, lead vocals
Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues, harmonica and lead vocals
Steve Cropper as Steve “the Colonel” Cropper, lead guitar, rhythm guitar and vocals
Donald “Duck” Dunn as Donald “Duck” Dunn, bass guitar
Murphy Dunne as Murphy “Murph” Dunne, keyboards
Willie Hall as Willie “Too Big” Hall, drums and percussion
Tom Malone as Tom “Bones” Malone, trombone, tenor saxophone and vocals
Lou Marini as “Blue Lou” Marini, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone and vocals
Matt Murphy as Matt “Guitar” Murphy, lead guitar
Alan Rubin as Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin, trumpet, percussion and vocals

Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Stephen M. Katz
Editing by George Folsey Jr
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date June 20, 1980
Running time 133 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Fox Classics had a Blues Brothers marathon on New Year’s Day, screening the movie several times throughout the day. Even though I have seen this movie millions of times I just had to watch it again.

While the film is quite hilarious at times I don’t think that it is the funniest film of all time like a lot of people under the age of 40 have said. It’s probably the funniest film of the 80s though. I like the way that Belushi and Ackroyd play everything very straight regardless of whatever madness is occurring around them. There are a lot of good, funny, lines that have all gone down into movie folklore.

We’re on a mission from God!

I think the thing that I like most about this picture is the great music featured. Firstly there is the Blues Brothers‘ Band featuring Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi as well as the members of Stax records house band Booker T and the MGs. Then there are the cameos by John Lee Hooker, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and James Brown playing and singing some of their most famous hits from the past. The scene featuring Ray Charles singing Shake A Tailfeather is very funny.

Overall the film is very funny with lots of great music.

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Back To School

Directed by Alan Metter
Produced by Chuck Russell
Written by Steven Kampmann, William Porter, Peter Torokvei & Harold Ramis
Starring Rodney Dangerfield
Sally Kellerman
Burt Young
Keith Gordon
Ned Beatty
William Zabka
Sam Kinison
Robert Downey, Jr.
Paxton Whitehead
Adrienne Barbeau
Terry Farrell
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Thomas E. Ackerman
Editing by David Rawlins
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date June 13, 1986
Running time 96 min.
Country United States
Language English

Back To School is a typically 80s movie, featuring the schtick of Rodney Dangerfield and lots of generic 80s rock. This is not a bad thing. Rodney Dangerfield essentially plays Rodney Dangerfield, so if you know his comic persona you know what to expect, although he doesn’t do as much of the ‘no respect’ stuff here. One thing that I find amazing is that it took him so long to get any success. Although he was a stand-up comic in the 1940s and appeared on TV in the 60s, but it wasn’t really until the 80s and in particular Caddyshack and Back To School that he found widespread fame.

Back To School also features an early appearance by Robert Downey Jr. This would have been at around the same time that he was appearing in Saturday Night Live, but in Back To School he really doesn’t do much except act weird.

Overall there are a few laughs to be had and for better or for worse they don’t make ’em like this any more.

Back To School is available on Amazon for $11.49.

Rodney Dangerfield’s autobiography, It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs is also available on Amazon for $11.19.


The Rutles – All You Need Is Cash

Directed by Eric Idle & Gary Weis
Written by Eric Idle
Starring Eric Idle
John Halsey
Ricky Fataar
Neil Innes
Michael Palin
George Harrison
Bianca Jagger
John Belushi
Dan Aykroyd
Gilda Radner
Bill Murray
Running time 76 minutes
Language English

Years before This Is Spinal Tap and almost two decades before Homer’s Barbershop Quartet there was The Rutles, the first ever rock and roll mockumentary and the first spoof of the career of the Beatles. It was created by Monty Python’s Eric Idle and Neil Innes who also wrote the music. Innes was a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in the 1960s.

Anyone who knows the Beatles career and enjoys their music will enjoy this fantastically funny parody which also features a lot of cameos by the Python’s Michael Palin as well as respected musicians such as Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood and the Beatles’ own George Harrison, who was of course close friends with Eric Idle and the rest of the Python’s and was apparently a part of this project right from the start. Also appearing are many Saturday Night Live alumni such as Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi.

The plot of the movie follows the career of the Rutles, four Liverpool lads who took the pop world by storm after being discovered by Leggy Mountbatten, who went onto be their manager. The four, Ron, Dirk, Stig and Barry impressed the one-legged Mountbatten with how tightly they wore their trousers rather than their music. There was also a fifth member, Leppo, who left the group when he climbed inside a trunk with a small German fräulein and was never heard from again. Luckily, he couldn’t play anyway.

The film follows the career of the Pre-fab Four from their days playing at the Liverpool Cavern right through to their final album Let It Rot, and features lots of their musical highlights including Ouch!, Goose Step Mama, Cheese And Onions and Get Up And Go.

Apparently most of the Beatles loved the film. George of course had a cameo, while Ringo is said to have liked the happy scenes but thought that the sad ones cut a bit too close. John loved the film and refused to return the preview tape he’d been given, but warned that one song, Get Up And Go, was a little too similar to Get Back and thought that McCartney may sue. Paul refused to comment on the film and was apparently a little frosty towards Idle for a while after, but Linda was said to be a fan.

This film served as inspiration for This Is Spinal Tap as well as the numerous Beatles parodies that have appeared over the years. I feel that this is better than Spinal Tap and is undoubtedly the best of the Beatles parodies.

As a side note, this was one of the first videos that I ever saw back in the early 80s. This movie was a preview on most videos that we borrowed, which is how I learnt of the films existence as a 7-year-old. (Other movies always found as previews include Idi Amin, Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and King Kong!)


This Is Spinal Tap

Directed by Rob Reiner
Produced by Karen Murphy

Written by Christopher Guest
Michael McKean
Harry Shearer
Rob Reiner

Starring Rob Reiner
Michael McKean
Christopher Guest
Harry Shearer
Fran Drescher
Bruno Kirby

Music by Christopher Guest
Michael McKean
Harry Shearer
Rob Reiner

Cinematography Peter Smokler
Editing by Kent Beyda & Kim Secrist
Distributed by Embassy Pictures
Release date March 2, 1984
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Many people claim that This Is Spinal Tap is one of the funniest movies of all time and that it was the first ever mockumentary, yet in my mind it is one of the most overrated films ever made.

Even though Spinal Tap is at times a very funny movie it cannot live up to the hype that its’ fans give it. Perhaps it is a case of familiarity breeding contempt as over the years we have seen many of the best jokes over and over again and the more I hear them the less funny they are.

The thing that irks me about This Is Spinal Tap is how it is hailed as the first ‘mockumentary’ yet it was preceded by Neil Innes and Eric Idle’s The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash by five years. This would have been known to at least one of Spinal Tap’s creators, Harry Shearer, who was a cast mate on Saturday Night Live in 1979. The Rutles movie was partly financed by SNL’s producer Lorne Michaels and features cameos from SNL’s (then) cast members John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Al Franken and Bill Murray.

Still, This Is Spinal Tap does feature Squiggy as one of the band members, whilst Nanny Fran acts as the bands publicist. This is one of those movies which I guess everyone has to watch once, but if you watch it anymore than that it quickly wears out its welcome.