Tag Archives: John Candy

A Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T: The Last Of The Blues Brothers

What a kick in the nuts, today we lost Soul Sister Number One as Aretha Franklin has died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was one of the finest singers to ever walk this Earth and the world of music will be a little darker without her bright flame.

I was brought up on real R n’ B music, soul and the like. I still remember Sunday mornings as a kid when Mom would make us do housework before Nan and Granddad would visit for dinner. Mom would always put some music on while we polished, vacuumed and washed. Songs from people like Sam and Dave, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and of course Aretha Franklin would fill my ears and turn me into the fan of proper blues, soul and Motown that I am today.

But there was another element that turned me into the fan of what I like to call “real music”, a film and one of my all time favorite films ever, a musical film and a film Aretha was a part of herself – The Blues Brothers. The loss of The Queen of Soul today has got me thinking about the amazing talent involved in The Blues Brothers and how many of them we have lost over the years. So here, I’d like to pay my R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the stars of The Blues Brothers and even its sequel. Yeah I’ll throw in Blues Brothers 2000 as whether you liked the film or not, one can not deny it had some stunning people in it who are sadly no longer with us. This is for all those, in memorandum for all they have given us over the years.

The Blues Brothers Title

Walter Horton  1921 – 1981

“Big” Walter Horton appeared in the first film alongside John Lee Hooker on the street as they performed Boom Boom together.

John Belushi 1949 – 1982

One of the originators of the whole Blues Brothers craze, along with Dan Aykroyd. The duo created a phenomenon that has lasted decades and still attracts new fans to this day.

Cab Calloway 1907 – 1994

The oldest member of the family, he was born when the 1900s were till new. Cab provided one of the best scenes in the original film when he belted out Minne the Moocher.

John Candy 1950 – 1994

John Candy

His role as parole officer Burton Mercer in The Blues Brothers was one of his first movie acting roles after a successful career in TV.

Junior Wells 1934 – 1998

Wells made a small cameo in Blues Brothers 2000 as one of the band members during the Cheaper to Keep Her song.

Grover Washington Jr 1943 – 1999

Grover was a part of the ensemble group, The Louisiana Gator Boys from Blues Brothers 2000 where he was joined by several other musical legends.

Bobby Sheehan 1968 – 1999

Not just appearing in the sequel but also a founding member of the band Blues Traveler who feature in the film.

George Sperdakos 1931 – 2000

A character actor known for small roles in numerous films. He played a priest in Blues Brothers 2000.

Kathleen Freeman 1919 – 2001

Kathleen Freeman

Kathleen played Sister Mary Stigmata A.K.A The Penguin, the vicious nun Jake and Elwood have to visit in the first film and she returned for the sequel too.

Esther Ridgeway 1959- 2003

She was one of the entourage of friends that accompanied and joined in with Aretha Franklin as she sang Respect in the car dealership in Blues Brothers 2000.

Jeff Morris 1934 – 2004

Jeff played Bob of Bob’s Country Bunker where the boys did their Country & Western gig in the first film. He also returned for the sequel to reprise his role.

Ray Charles 1930 – 2004

Of course this man doesn’t need an introduction, its Ray Charles. He played (imaginatively) Ray of Rays’s Musical Exchange where Jake and Elwood get their instruments from in the first film.

Gracie Ridgeway 1957 – 2006

Along with her sister Esther, she was also part of the entourage that sang Respect with Aretha Franklin in the sequel.

Wilson Pickett 1941 – 2006

Wilson appeared in Blues Brothers 2000 playing the character Mr Picket at the “phone company” where he sang 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.).

James Brown 1933 – 2006

James Brown

The hardest working man in show business, The Godfather of Soul. He played Reverend Cleophus James in both films.

Billy Preston 1946 – 2006

Another one of the Louisiana Gator Boys supergroup that popped up in Blues Brothers 2000.

Lou Rawls 1933 – 2006

And yet again, one of the Louisiana Gator Boys from the sequel.

Bo Diddley 1928 – 2008

Yes he was another one of them Louisiana Gator Boys. That band had some serious talent in it eh?

Isaac Hayes 1942 – 2008

Guess what? Aside from recording the greatest song ever with Shaft. Yes Isaac was also a Louisiana Gator Boy in Blues Brothers 2000.

Wally High 1938 – 2008

Played one of the Russian thugs chasing after Elwood in Blues Brothers 2000.

Koko Taylor 1928 – 2009

A female in the Louisiana Gator Boys band from the sequel and known for he powerful blues singing voice.

Henry Gibson 1963 – 2009

Henry Gibson

A brilliant character actor who you would find popping up in a lot of comedy films of the 80s – one of which was The Blues Brothers where he played the leader of the Illinois Nazis.

Alan Rubin 1943 -2011

Known as Mr. Fabulous, Rubin was one of the members of The Blues Brothers band appearing in both films as the trumpet player.

Clarence Clemons 1942 – 2011

Along with the many others, Clemons was part of the Louisiana Gator Boys from Blues Brothers 2000.

Charles Napier 1936 – 2011

Played Tucker McElroy, lead singer and driver of the Winnebago for The Good Ole Boys Band in the first film. He was another one of those great character actors you’d see in many films.

John Lee Hooker 1942 – 2001

Johm Lee Hooker

One of the best blues musicians ever, he appeared in the first film singing Boom Boom on the street.

Pinetop Perkins 1913 – 2011

Along with John Lee Hooker, he was also on the street performing Boom Boom in the first film.

Donald “Duck” Dunn 1941 -2012

Another member of The Blues Brothers Band. “Duck” was the bass player as uttered some of the best lines in both of the films. “We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”

B.B. King 1925 – 2015

Played Malvern Gasperone who sells Elwood the police car that would become the new Bluesmobile in Blues Brothers 2000…he also became one of the Louisiana Gator Boys later in the film. As well as bring one of the most recognised blues musicians ever.

Carrie Fisher 1956 – 2016

Carrie Fisher

She played Jake’s stalker/ex-girlfriend in the first film hellbent on trying to kill Jake and his brother Elwood because she was stood up at the alter by Jake.

Matt “Guitar” Murphy 1929 – 2018

The lead guitarist of The Blues Brothers band and married to Aretha Franklin’s character in both films.

Aretha Franklin 1942 – 2018

Aretha Franklin

Which all brings me to the latest loss in The Blues Brothers family. A force to be reckoned with as the strong willed wife of Matt “Guitar” Murphy. She had two great performances in both films singing Think in The Blues Brothers and Respect in Blues Brothers 2000.

She will be missed, one of the very finest singers ever with a career that spanned six decades. I’ll Say A Little Prayer For You..

Don’t say Aretha is making a comeback, because I’ve never been away!

Aretha Franklin.

Advertisements

‘Atuk’: The Cursed Screenplay?

Now, before I get into the meat of this article, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I do not believe in curses. I believe in accidents and coincidence. No matter how bizarre or macabre a situation may seem, to me it’s an accident/coincidence with a possible, reasonable explanation. With that out of the way…

There have been several notable cursed movies over the years. With titles such as The Exorcist and The Omen being two of the most famous. Then there are curses associated with actors like Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee. Or even curses connected to a character such as Superman. Just a few examples of supposed curses in movies. But what about a cursed screenplay? Well yes, there is one of those, too, and one that is being blamed for the deaths in the ’80s and ’90s of some of the biggest names in comedy.

The Incomparable Atuk was a novel released in 1963 by writer Mordecai Richler. The book is a satirical tale about a Canadian Inuit who moves to Toronto and loses his simple lifestyle when he is seduced by the greed and pretensions of the big city.

It was going to be one of those fish out of water plots akin to other comedy movies like Crocodile Dundee or Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Rights to the book were bought in the 1970s by Canadian filmmaker Norman Jewison and the supposed cursed screenplay was written by Tod Carroll. If you feel brave and wish to read this cursed screenplay, then you can do so right here. I have to issue a warning, though, not because of a curse, but because the screenplay is not very funny.

But what about the deaths this screenplay is said to have been linked to?

1. John Belushi

It has been said that while Carroll was writing the Atuk screenplay, he had John Belushi in mind to play the title role. By the time the screenplay was completed in the early 1980s, Belushi had become a household name thanks to his time on Saturday Night Live, and things seemed to be working out perfectly. Everything was set to go into pre-production and Belushi apparently loved the script and really wanted to play the part too. The movie was set to begin filming in 1982 — but Belushi died of a drug overdose before that could happen.

2. Sam Kinison

The production of Atuk lay dormant for around a decade before the idea to try to get the film off the ground once again came about in the early ’90s. Known for his outlandish attitude and loudmouth comedic approach, Sam Kinison was signed on to play the lead role, and the film even commenced filming. However, after a few days of shooting – Kinison’s overbearing attitude and drug-fuelled lifestyle caused his life to unravel. He was soon fired from the Atuk production and shorty afterwards he was dropped by his agent. Then in 1992, Kinison’s car was struck by a drunk driver in a head-on collision, resulting in his death from the multiple internal injures he sustained.

3. John Candy

In 1994, Atuk’s production was fired up once more, and this time it was larger-than-life comedy actor John Candy who was suggested for the lead role. Candy was said to have been very interested in taking on the role and read the script with great interest, he was set to star in the movie. Sadly, he died of a heart attack before he could sign up for the movie.

4. Chris Farley

Even after the deaths of three stars connected to the film’s production, Atuk was still trying to find its star. It was 1997 when Chris Farley was suggested for the role, and he was all set to sign on for the film, too. Yet the cursed screenplay took another victim when Farley died of a drug overdose that same year.

Coincidentally, Belushi and Farley were both former SNL stars, both 33 at the time of their deaths, and they both died of a drug overdose — and both after expressing interest in playing the title role in Atuk.

5. Phil Hartman

This one is a little tenuous, I admit. It has been said that Farley took the Atuk script to his friend Phil Hartman with a plan to get Hartman involved in the movie too – in a possible supporting role. Six months after Farley’s death and Hartman was fatally shot several times by his wife, before she committed suicide.

So there you have it. An apparently cursed script that is connected to some of the biggest names in comedy from the ’80s and ’90s. But what of the screenplay today? Well, United Artists is said to be the copyright owner and still has the original script in its archives. Perhaps one day the studio will want to once again attempt to get the film off the ground. But would anyone want to sign up to star in a movie with a supposed cursed screenplay?

Harold Ramis

To a lot of people, the name Harold Ramis won’t really won’t be too familiar.
But to many others, the name is one of the best comedy writer/directors of the 80s and 90s and also did a bit of acting along the way too.

download

While the name may not be one that stands out to some people, maybe one of his many acting roles would.

HR 2

Yes, Harold Ramis played Dr. Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters.
But Ghostbusters is jumping ahead a little, so before I get too far ahead of myself, allow me to get back to the beginning and remember Harold Ramis correctly.

Born Harold Allen Ramis on November 21, 1944.
Harold was part of a group of comedians that all worked together that became known as The Second City improvisational comedy troupe in the 70s. With the likes of John Candy, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi among many others.
They were a comedy troupe that were taking American comedy into a new direction.

Ramis even became a joke editor for Playboy magazine.
Then in 1974 John Belushi brought Harold Ramis and other Second City performers, including Bill Murray, to New York City to work on The National Lampoon Radio Hour.
In 1976 Ramis became a performer and head writer of the late-night sketch-comedy television series SCTV.

Ramis eventually left SCTV to pursue a film career and wrote a script which would eventually become National Lampoon’s Animal House. Which went on to become the biggest comedy film of 1978.

Ramis next co-wrote the comedy Meatballs, starring Bill Murray and marked the start of a long term friendship between the two. His third film as a writer and his directorial début was Caddyshack relased in 1980.

CS

Caddyshack went on to become one of the most loved comedies of the 80’s and once again featured Ramis friend, Bill Murray.
So what was next for Harold? In 1984, Ramis collaborated with Dan Aykroyd on the screenplay for Ghostbusters as well as it’s sequel, Ghosbusters II in 1989 in which he also acted alongside his friend Bill Murray.

Which brings me to quite possibly my personal favourite Harold Ramis/Bill Murray team up…

GD

Written and directed by Harold Ramis, as well as making a cameo too. Groundhog Day is one of the very best comedy films of the 90’s

Alas, the Ramis/Murray friendship soured in the later years. In fact one of the main reasons we never got a Ghostbusters 3 was due to Ramis and Murray falling out in the mid 2000’s.
A friendship that was never fully repaired.

Ramis also wrote and directed the Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal starring Analyze This and its sequel Analyze That from 1999 & 2002 respectively.

In 2010, Ramis contracted an infection that resulted in complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis and lost the ability to walk. After relearning to walk he suffered a relapse of the disease in late 2011.

Harold Ramis died of complications of the disease on February 24, 2014 he was 69.

HR 3

Harold Ramis:Well, for me, it’s the relationship between comedy and life – that’s the edge I live on, and maybe it’s my protection against looking at the tragedy of it all. It’s seeing life in balance. Comedy and tragedy co-exist. You can’t have one without the other. I’m of the school that anything can be funny, if seen from a comedic point of view.

Please also check out my Groundhog Day overview.

btn_donate_LG