2020 marks the 40th anniversary of John Landis’ The Blues Brothers (‘80), allegedly one of the biggest and most unmitigated cocaine movies ever made. HE is trying to recall other significant cocaine flicks of that era. Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, for sure. Let’s try and come up with a fairly comprehensive list. The HE community can do this!
It’s also worth recalling, I think, the elephant-fart aroma that this film spread across the land. It was a comedy, of course, and so a certain raucousness was unavoidable. But it was also about a couple of Paul Butterfield-like devotees of Chess records, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Poseurs, certainly, but sincere about it. Guys who’d responded to the heart, ache and grit of the Chicago blues and were looking to spread the gospel, so to speak. On SNL and in live shows John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd‘s Blues Brothers act was funny and cool, but when Landis stepped in it all turned brazen and soul-less — over-produced, over-scaled, over-emphasized.
From Janet Maslin’s 5.20.80 N.Y. Times review: “There isn’t a moment of The Blues Brothers that wouldn’t have been more enjoyable if it had been mounted on a simpler scale. This essentially modest movie is reported to have cost about $30 million, and what did all that money buy? Scores of car crashes. Too many extras. Overstaged dance numbers. And a hollowness that certainly didn’t come cheap.
“A film that moved faster and called less attention to its indulgences might never convey, as The Blues Brothers does in all but its jolliest moments, such unqualified despair.”