What can R.J. Cutler‘s Belushi (Showtime, 11.22) possibly add to what we already know about the late genius-level comedian, whose wanton drug-taking led to his premature death in March ’82?
Pic shares “previously unheard audiotapes” of colleagues and collaborators Dan Aykroyd, Carrie Fisher, Lorne Michaels, Penny Marshall, Chevy Chase, Jim Belushi, Harold Ramis, Jane Curtin, Ivan Reitman, etc.
Belushi’s glory days were between ’72 and mid ’78 — from the time he joined National Lampoon’s Lemmings and then became writer, director and actor for The National Lampoon Radio Hour, to the first three and a half years with SNL (starting in ‘mid 75) and his breakout performance in Animal House. It was mostly cocaine and downswirl after that.
After Animal House, the best film Belushi ever made was Continental Divide (’81).
Cutler directed, wrote and produced the 108-minute doc.
I somehow missed the fact that Cathy Smith, the backup singer, groupie and drug dealer who injected the coke-heroin speedball that killed Belushi on 3.5.82, died three months ago (8.16.20). She was 73.
From “Belushi’s Attempted Romcom,” posted on 4.25.19:
In the comment thread of my 4.24 Long Shot review, “AuggieBenDoggie” noted the basic premise — dorky, blunt-spoken journalist (Seth Rogen) falls for a dishy Secretary of State (Charlize Theron) who’s way, way out of his league — and asked if it isn’t the same basic idea behind Continental Divide (’81), in which John Belushi played a stocky reporter who tumbled for Blair Brown‘s Rocky Mountain scientist.
In both films the women reciprocate the feelings of the male journalists and actually invite them into their beds. Except that the Belushi-Brown pairing is a lot less of a stretch than the Rogen-Theron romance, which has struck some as fairly ridiculous.
HE reply: Yes, there’s a rough similarity between Long Shot and Continental Divide, but the latter — directed by Michael Apted, written by Lawrence Kasdan — is a much more grown-up, more emotionally earnest comedy — a galaxy apart from Long Shot. As in “actually tethered to a semblance of the real world.”
Compared to Long Shot, Continental Divide is a Lubitsch film. And Belushi isn’t half bad as the tough, Mike Royko-like Chicago journalist.
By the way: Here’s a striking photo of Belushi’s sheet-wrapped body being rolled out of the Chateau Marmont in front of a journalist wolf-pack. It kind of reminds me of the last moments of Sunset Boulevard — the same mix of pity, sadness and lurid headlines. The photo is part of a Hollywood Reporter excerpt from Shawn Levy‘s “The Castle on Sunset” (Doubleday, 5.7), which I’ve read and highly approve of.