The Blues Brothers is a 1980 musical comedy film directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as "Joliet" Jake and Elwood Blues, characters developed from a musical sketch on the NBC variety series Saturday Night Live. It features musical numbers by R&B and soul singers James Brown, Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and John Lee Hooker. The film is set in and around Chicago, Illinois, and also features non-musical supporting performances by John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier, and Henry Gibson. The story is a tale of redemption for paroled convict Jake (Belushi) and his brother Elwood (Aykroyd), who take on "a mission from God" to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they grew up. To do so they must reunite their rhythm and blues band, The Blues Brothers, and organize a performance to earn $5,000 to pay the tax assessor. Along the way they are targeted by a destructive "mystery woman", Nazis, and a country and western bandall while being relentlessly pursued by the police. Released in the United States on June 20, 1980, it received generally good reviews. It earned just under $5 million in its opening weekend and went on to gross $115.2 million in theaters worldwide before its release on home video.
"Joliet" Jake Blues (John Belushi) is paroled from prison after serving three years for armed robbery. Jake is irritated at being picked up by his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in a battered former Mount Prospect police car, instead of the Bluesmobile, a Cadillac the brothers used to own. Jake changes his mind about the worthiness of the ex-police car to become the new Bluesmobile after Elwood jumps the gap in a drawbridge in an Evel Knievel-like stunt. The brothers visit their childhood home, a Roman Catholic orphanage run by Sister Mary Stigmata, a nun nicknamed "the Penguin" (Kathleen Freeman), and learn that it will be closed unless $5,000 in property taxes is collected within eleven days. The brothers visit an evangelical church service where Jake has an epiphany: they can legitimately raise the funds by re-forming their rhythm and blues band, The Blues Brothers. Elwood's driving alerts two Illinois State Police troopers who learn of his suspended license. When they attempt to arrest him, he speeds off, escaping through the Dixie Square Mall. As the brothers arrive at the flophouse where Elwood lives, a mystery woman (Carrie Fisher) launches a bazooka attack that leaves them unharmed. The next morning, she detonates a bomb that demolishes the building, which also fails to injure the brothers and saves them from being arrested. Jake and Elwood begin tracking down members of the band. Trombonist Tom "Bones" Malone and the rhythm section of the group (Willie "Too Big" Hall, Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Murphy "Murph" Dunne) are playing in an empty Holiday Inn lounge, and are easily persuaded to rejoin. Trumpeter "Mr. Fabulous", now maître d' at a restaurant, is harder to sway, but Jake and Elwood rudely convince him. En route to meet saxophonist Louis "Blue Lou" Marini and guitarist Matt "Guitar" Murphy, the brothers break up a rally of "the Illinois Nazis" by driving the Bluesmobile through it, adding more enemies to the brothers' growing list. Marini and Murphy are at the soul food restaurant which Murphy owns with his wife (Aretha Franklin). Against her advice, the two musicians leave and rejoin the band. The reunited group get instruments and equipment from Ray's Music Store (with Ray Charles accepting an IOU). Jake is unable to book a gig in advance, but the band stumbles into a gig at Bob's Country Bunker, a country & western bar. After a rocky start, the band wins over the bottle-tossing crowd. At the end of the evening, however, not only is their bar tab greater than the payment for the gig, but the brothers infuriate the band that was actually meant to play, the Good Ol' Boys. Another car chase ensues, resulting in Bob and some of the Good Ol' Boys totaling Bob's pickup and a police cruiser driven by the two state troopers who had chased Jake and Elwood into the mall. More enemies to add to their ever-growing list. The Blues Brothers blackmail their old booking agent into securing a gig for thema performance at the Palace Hotel Ballroom, located 106 miles (171 km) north of Chicago. After being driven all over the area promoting the concert the Bluesmobile runs out of gas, making Jake and Elwood late for the concert. The ballroom is packed, and the concert-goers are joined by the Good Ol' Boys, scores of police officers, and Jake's parole officer (John Candy). Jake and Elwood sneak into the venue and perform two songs. A record company executive offers them a cash advance on a recording contract, more than enough to pay off the orphanage's taxes and Ray's IOU, and tells the brothers how to slip out unnoticed. As the brothers escape via a service tunnel, they are confronted by the mystery woman, whereupon it is revealed she is Jake's ex-fiancée. She fires an M16 rifle at them, but Jake charms her, calms her and passionately kisses her before dropping her into the service tunnel mud, allowing the two brothers to escape in the Bluesmobile. They head back to Chicago with dozens of state troopers, local police and the Good Ol' Boys in pursuit. Jake and Elwood eventually elude them all, leaving a trail of wrecked and piled-up police cars in their wake. After a gravity-defying escape from the Illinois Nazis, Jake and Elwood arrive at the Richard J. Daley Center, where the Bluesmobile literally falls to pieces. They rush inside the adjacent Chicago City Hall building, soon followed by hundreds of police, state troopers, SWAT teams, firefighters, Illinois National Guardsmen, and Military Police. Finding the office of the Cook County Assessor (played by Steven Spielberg, making a cameo appearance), the brothers pay the tax bill. Just as their receipt is stamped, they are arrested by a large crowd of armed law officers. Jake, Elwood, and the rest of the band are sent to Joliet Prison where they play "Jailhouse Rock" for fellow inmates.