Car movie of the day: ‘The Blues Brothers’

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Editor’s note: Car guys, and even car girls, can take only so much of those Hallmark holiday movies that fill the airwaves and cable systems this time of year. As an automotive alternative, we’re offering our own suggestions of our favorite car movies for your viewing pleasure. Check out more of our favorite car movies here.


If not the best car-movie quotes of all time, they’re right up there:

“New Oldsmobiles are in early this year.”

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses.”

“It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it’ll run good on regular gas. What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?

All of those quotes are from Elwood Blues, star of The Blues Brothers, a hilarious 1980 movie by John Landis and starring Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi and a huge cast that includes James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, John Lee Hooker, Carrie Fisher, Mr. T, Joe Walsh, Steven Spielberg, Chaka Khan, Steve Lawrence, Twiggy, John Candy and Henry Gibson, among others.

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At the time of the movie’s release, a record 103 cars had been destroyed during its filming (that record stood for only two years). An old and vacant shopping mall also was all but destroyed during the filming of one of the movie’s many car chase scenes.

The mall car chase in Blues Brothers is likely one of the most famous film scenes ever. | Universal Pictures Screenshot
The mall car chase in Blues Brothers is likely one of the most famous film scenes ever. | Universal Pictures Screenshot

But not to worry because the brothers Blues were on a “mission from God.”

I volunteered to write this report for our month-long series because of a personal relationship to the movie’s opening segment, which was shot at the old Joliet Prison in Illinois. Until the mid-1960s, my grandfather was the warden to that prison.

As the camera pans the front of the prison, you can see windows in my grandparents’ second-floor apartment as well as a concrete sculpture of a dog that my cousins and I used to “ride” when we’d visit our grandparents, which required passing through two or three jail-style barred and locked doors.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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