For the 30th anniversary of the movie, The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano called the film "a Catholic classic", recommending it as good viewing for Catholics.
Just before the Blues Mobile crashes through the Toys-R-Us, a man asks if they have a "Miss Piggy," while holding up a a stuffed Grover toy. This is a nod to the cameo appearance by Frank Oz, the man who provides both Muppets' voices. The man with the toy is Gary McLarty, the stunt coordinator of this film and of Animal House (1978).
There is a tribute to another of John Belushi's famous Saturday Night Live characters in the movie, courtesy of Kathleen Freeman's portrayal of the long-suffering Reverend Mother. In the film, while in the midst of chastising Jake and Elwood for the foul mouths, she first breaks a small ruler, then reaches behind her for an even larger one, brandishing it with a grand flourish, like a sword, as a tribute to Belushi's very popular "Samurai" warrior.
The Springfield High School class of 1980, from Akron Ohio, had a surprise in their yearbook; personal behind the scenes photos, while in character, of both John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on the set of the Blues Brothers movie. This turns out to be courtesy of Belushi's uncle, who was the owner of a photography studio in the city. As a personal favor, both stars agreed to appear in the shots with the family members for the advertisement/school supporter section of the yearbook, with one of the pictures showing Belushi holding an antique camera with a sign on it which reads: "Look Mean... but smile!"
The Head Nazi, played by Henry Gibson, gives a taunting speech to the assembled counter protesters and leads his men in a pledge of allegiance to Adolf Hitler, taken almost word-for-word from the documentary The California Reich (1975). He introduces his Nazi group as the "American Socialist White People's Party". The acronym of which, ASWPP, is a diminutive of "Ass Wipe".
Before Jake and Elwood go into the Soul Food Cafe, 'John Lee Hooker' gets into an argument with his band about his writing "Boom, Boom" (seen in the extended DVD version). If you listen closely as they are leaving the diner with Matt Murphy and Blue Lou, you can hear the argument still going on. And if you look closely as the camera tracks Blue Lou darting into the Bluesmobile, the argument has now escalated into a fight.
The record label president who offers the Blues Brothers a recording contract identifies himself as representing "Clarion Records, the largest recording company on the eastern seaboard." There actually was a Clarion Records - a budget label that was only in operation for a couple of years in the 1960s. However, it was owned by what had become, by the time of the movie, one of the largest American record companies: Atlantic Records, which, in real life, was not only a renowned blues/R&B;/soul label (home of many of the artists mentioned or featured in the movie), but which also released the Blues Brothers' albums - including the movie soundtrack.
The Soul Food Cafe, where Aretha Franklin sings, was Nate's Deli on Chicago's famed Maxwell Street. It is now a parking lot.
Some of the performers were not used to lip-syncing to their pre-recorded songs - the standard procedure for movie musicals. James Brown ended up singing his number live with a recorded backing (the rest of his choir was lip-syncing). John Lee Hooker's performance of "Boom Boom" was recorded live at Chicago's Maxwell Street Market. Aretha Franklin's performance is cut together from many, many takes, using the parts where her lip-syncing was actually in sync.
In a scene restored to the DVD release, Elwood parks the Bluesmobile in a tiny Chicago Transit Authority storage shed underneath a bank of transformers for the CTA trains. Dan Aykroyd had written this as part of an elaborate scene showing the Bluesmobile being "charged up" by the transformers to explain how the car could perform its impossible stunts. Director John Landis discarded the complicated explanations, saying, "It's just a magic car!"
The boat going under the bridge that Jake and Elwood jump at the beginning of the film is the W.W. Holloway. She was originally launched in 1906, laid up on Dec 7, 1981 and scrapped in 1986. In the movie she is wearing the paint scheme of Oglebay-Norton, the last shipping company to operate her.
In the public restroom where The Good Old Boys' front man discovers the graffiti/advertisement for the Blues Brothers show at the Palace Hotel, the name "Rick Baker" can be seen written in red to the right of the illustration of Jake & Elwood. Rick Baker was the makeup and effects artist for director John Landis's first feature film, Schlock (1973). Following the Blues Brothers, Landis called on Baker's talents once again for the film An American Werewolf in London (1981), and finally as the effects artist for Michael Jackson's long-form music video Thriller (1983)
After the concert, the state troopers chase the Blues Brothers back to Chicago. The scene where several state trooper cars crash off the highway embankment was filmed at the Rt. 12 overpass in Wauconda, IL. They had trouble getting the cars to flip over when they went down the embankment, so they dug a hole into the embankment to help the cars flip over as they hit it.
During the filming of the opening scene, security guards of the prison fired shots at the helicopter filming the overhead shots, thinking that the helicopter was attempting to spy on the structure.
Elwood's license number, B263-1655-2187, unfortunately isn't for someone by the name of Elwood Blues. By dissecting the license number, you can find out information about the holder. Birthdate: July 1st 1952 (Dan Aykroyd's birthday). Gender: Male. First Initial: D. Middle Initial: E. Last Name: Starts with a B, followed by a guttural or sibilant (C, G, J, K, Q, S, X, or Z), followed by a short liquid (R), followed by a dental (D or T). The driver's license number turns out to be what Dan Aykroyd's license number would be, if he had obtained an Illinois license, simply substituting the leading 'A' with the 'B' for "Blues"; thus the number shown in the film is a "hybrid" and is an invalid Illinois number. The book "Blues Brothers: Private" by Judith Jacklin (Judith Belushi-Pisano) gives Elwood's birthday as December 6, 1953. Therefore, Elwood's driver's license number should have been B420-2105-3347.
John Landis' signature running gag "See you next Wednesday" appears in this film as a billboard for a movie featuring a huge gorilla.
When recording the soundtrack for the movie, Cab Calloway was needed to record his hit "Minnie the Moocher" in better quality than his original album. When he came into the studios he was prepared to do his new disco version that was just released. Of course, the film makers wanted nothing to do with this and asked for the original version, which Calloway reluctantly gave them. When Cab Calloway asks the band if they knew the song Minnie The Moocher, Murphy Dunne answers, "I knew a hooker once named Minnie Mazola" to which Calloway replies, "no the SONG Minnie The Moocher"
Murphy Dunne is the son of the then-president of the Cook County Board, George Dunne, who helped convince then-mayor Jane Byrne to allow filming at the Daley Center.
Colleen Camp's playboy poster, also featured in Apocalypse Now (1979), is hanging on the wall of Elwood's apartment.
During filming, John Belushi apparently got drunk, went to a stranger's house, asked if he could have a glass of milk and a sandwich and then crashed on their couch for a couple of hours before the cast and crew found him.
Lobbying from the Italian-American community ensured that the line "The Mafia's out there" was re-dubbed to "The Mob's out there" when the Blues Brothers was shown on television.
The bridge that the Illinois Nazis drive off of during the car chase was in downtown Milwaukee. It was a ramp as part of an interchange that had not been fully developed. Later that ramp was torn down and replaced.
The scene where the bluesmobile is driving at 115 MPH on Wells and Wacker Drive is real. The film crew received permission to clear the street for two 100 MPH passes. Stunt pedestrians were added after the first pass to add realism.
The interior for the Blues Brothers' concert was the Hollywood Palladium. Audience members were recruited through radio station promotion. The exterior was Chicago's South Shore Country Club, locate at 7059 South Shore Dr. Chicago, Ill., which was later purchased by the city and reopened as the South Shore Cultural Center.
During the making of the movie, one of the actors (un-named) drove the "Blues Mobile" 100 miles West on Interstate 80, to the city of Spring Valley, Illinois. He was promptly arrested for no registration (the plate was a prop), and no valid drivers license. With a telephone call, the set director was more concerned with the return of the vehicle than with the return of his actor.
In the new DVD version of the film, there are several added scenes. Elwood appears in one (sans sunglasses!) to tell his boss that he needs to quit because he wishes to become a priest.
Elwood's Drivers license number is #B263-1655-2187 Elwood had 116 outstanding warrants for parking and 56 for moving violations. This can be seen when Trooper Mount and Trooper Daniel ran his D/L history when he was first pulled over.
Producers rented the Dixie Square Mall in south suburban Harvey, Illinois for the mall chase scenes. The mall had been closed for over a year. (False) rumors began in the community that the mall was being refurbished and would be reopened after filming was complete. Universal was later sued for over $87,500 for failure to make good on a deal to "return the mall to its original condition" which was never agreed upon. After years of political wrangling, most of the mall remains; only the Montgomery Ward anchor store and mall power plant have been demolished.
The t-shirt Matt Murphy wears is from Uncle Tom's Tavern in Stone Mountain Georgia. The place was famous for its rowdy fights. It has been closed for many years now.
Carrie Fisher guest-hosted the SNL episode the Blues Brothers debuted in.
Paul Shaffer was an original member of the Blues Brothers Band and was supposed to be in the film. But because he was also working on Gilda Live (1980), according to Shaffer's memoir, Belushi fired him for being disloyal to the band.
The receipt that is stamped by the tax assessor clerk (played by 'Stephen Spielberg'), is #6829, dated August 9, 1979, and correctly reflects that $5000 cash for St. Helen of the Blessed Shroud Orphanage was received from "Jake & Elwood Blues" with an address of 1060 West Addison, Chicago. The receipt is signed "R. J. Daley" - a reference to Mayor Richard J. Daley for which the plaza they drove through (with the Picasso sculpture) was named.
Elwood's fake address at Wrigley Field (1060 West Addison) is used on the receipt they get for paying the $5000.
The infamous "Bluesmobile" is a 1974 Dodge Monaco. The vehicles used in the film were used police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol (mocked up to look like Mt. Prospect, Illinois patrol cars), and featured the "cop tires, cop suspension and cop motor - a 440 cubic-inch plant" mentioned by Elwood in the film. A total of 12 Bluesmobiles were used in the movie, including one that was built just so it could fall apart. Several replicas have been built by collectors, but one original is known to exist, and is owned by the brother-in-law of Dan Aykroyd.
At time of release, this film held the world record for the number of cars crashed.
Every time we see the window in Elwood's apartment a train goes past.
The exteriors and many interiors at Daley Center were shot on location, including the shot of the Bluesmobile plowing through the courthouse lobby. In a 1998 interview for Universal, John Landis credited mob help for getting permission from the Cook County Board of Commissioners for this (alluding to the Board being mob-controlled at that time).
Before the falling-Pinto scene could be filmed, the filmmakers had to get an "Air UN-worthyness certificate" from the Federal Aviation Administration for the Pinto. This was done by conducting preliminary drop tests to ensure that it would not behave as an airfoil and drift from its target line, but would drop "like a brick" when dropped from a great height.
Graffiti on the bridge the Blues Brothers hide their car under during the show reads, "John *heart* Deborah." This is a reference to director John Landis and his wife, costume designer Deborah Nadoolman.
At the end, after the Universal Studios logo is shown, there is an ad for Universal Studios in Hollywood. Below "When in Hollywood, visit Universal Studios", it says "Ask For Babs". The same appeared in Animal House (1978) (Babs is the Animal House character Babs Jensen), and it reappeared in Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) underneath a new Universal Studios Hollywood logo at the end of that movie.
Singer/guitarist Joe Walsh can be seen during the "Jailhouse Rock" sequence at the end. He still had long hair and a long mustache at the time and is the first prisoner to jump up on a table and start dancing.
Elwood removes his hat three times in the film: when going to sleep in his room, to break the window to get into the Palace Hotel, and towards the end of the movie when the Bluesmobile falls apart. His sunglasses are never removed. Jake removes his sunglasses once, when he is talking to Carrie Fisher, but never removes his hat. In the DVD and cable versions, Elwood doesn't wear sunglasses when he quits his job.
The scene in which the band appears in a sauna, clad only in towels, is an allusion to the cover photo on the 1973 Blood Sweat & Tears music album "No Sweat", in which the BST band appears in a sauna in identical pose. Lou Marini and Tom Malone, two of the Blues Brothers Band members, were also in BST and appear in both sauna scenes.
The Blues Brothers once held the record for crashing the most police cars in a movie at approximately 30. The record was eventually broken by Blues Brothers 2000.