Sunday, November 27, 2011

Performing a Public Service:
Cab Calloway in The Blues Brothers

Whatever one may think of John Landis or Dan Aykroyd as either artists or people, they both deserve kudos for preserving a modern day performance of Minnie the Moocher by Cab Calloway on film in The Blues Brothers (1980).   Aykroyd wrote him into the script and Landis gave him full attention for a lavishly filmed performance on stage.  Watching the movie the other day on Netflix, and seeing John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd perform with Cab Calloway, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Steve Cropper, Donald "Duck" Dunn, John Lee Hooker* and Ray Charles, I wondered to myself, "Did they appreciate the talent amassed for this film that would never be together again?"



Of course they did.  How could they not?  I've never been a cult-follower of The Blues Brothers like many others (though I do like it) but I'm glad it exists.  I'm glad it's out there and so many performers who weren't connected to film got a chance to be preserved on film forever after.  Besides, where else can you find Charles Napier, Carrie Fisher, Twiggy, John Candy, Paul Reubens, Steve Lawrence and Henry Gibson all playing bit player back-up in the same place at the same time?   If there were ever a film whose preservation of talent on celluloid surpasses the importance of the film itself, this might be the one.

*He doesn't actually perform with them but he's there just the same.