Monday, March 5, 2012

A Reel 30

1982 was a significant year in movie history, with many films and events causing ripple effects that are felt to this day. Reel Speak will mark each film and event in the order that it occurred throughout the course of this year, with the first being today.

Thirty years ago today, actor/comedian John Belushi died.

Born in 1949, John Adam Belushi already had a flourishing career in television before making his short, albeit long-lasting mark in the movies. In between TV seasons, he filmed one of his best-known movies, ANIMAL HOUSE (1978). The film not only launched his film career, but it also started a new genre in the form of gross-out films; a genre that continues today in several forms. ANIMAL HOUSE, which had a simple plot of fraternity members challenging the administrators of their university, was selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress in the National Film Registry for being culturally significant in 2001.

Belushi would leave TV land in 1979 to pursue a full-time film career, but would only live long enough to make five more films; 1941, NEIGHBORS, GOIN’ SOUTH, CONTINENTAL DIVIDE, and THE BLUES BROTHERS.

And it was in THE BLUES BROTHERS where Belushi and his former TV co-star, Dan Aykroyd arguably made the biggest splash. Packed with an all-star cast and musical numbers by legendary voices in blues and rock, the film’s stars became cultural icons; instantly recognizable in their dark glasses and suits.

Despite being drubbed by critics, this Blogger always had fun watching Steven Spielberg’s zany 1941 comedy, in which Belushi played drunken air force pilot Wild Bill Kelso. The character stole the show every time he was on screen, and every time his plane entered the picture, you knew something funny and crazy was about to happen. It’s a shame Wild Bill was never seen again on screen, but not nearly as regretful as Belushi himself being absent from the movies for the past 30 years. No one could do what he could do, and no one has since. What made him what he was remains a mystery, but maybe something can be hinted at in his Jake Blues character…

“Well me and the Lord, we have an understanding”

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