Tag Archives: John Landis

3 Amigos, Instant Classic

 

Steve Martin wrote Three Amigos (1986) (originally called The Three Caballeros) with Saturday Night Live Creator Lorne Michaels and Singer-Songwriter Randy Newman in 1980. Randy Newman also contributed 3 original songs for the film, but to this day, this remains to be the only screenplay he ever co-wrote. They planned on having Martin, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi play the 3 main roles, but the movie got stuck in the creative process for a few years. Steven Spielberg considered directing this film in 1981, but chose ET instead. His cast would have been Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Robin Williams.3 amigos chevy chaseJohn Landis came on board to direct and Chevy Chase and Martin Short were cast. If Martin Short were unable to do it, Landis said that he would have cast Rick Moranis in his place. Landis was a favorite director of Lorne Michaels and had previously directed Saturday Night Live alum movies; Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and Spies Like Us.  3 amigos martin short

The first part of the movie deals with a studio and the 3 amigos being fired. Fran Drescher filmed several scenes for this, but all of them were cut from the final film. Interestingly, there’s some fun references in the film at this time, like when the 3 amigos sneak back into the studio they cross a billboard advertising the movie, The Dueling Cavalier, which is the movie made by Don Lockwood and Lena Lamont in the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain.”3 amigos steve martin

I have to add that the actor who played “El Guapo” was Alfonso Arau, and he is hilarious in the movie. He would actually go on to a successful directing career, directing Like Water For Chocolate, A Walk in the Clouds, and TV versions of Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons and John Grisham’s A Painted House.3 amigos alfonso arau

Overall, I love this film, but I do wonder what film we would have had if John Landis were allowed to finish the post production of the film, but the studio was worried about the negative publicity as John Landis was going through court proceedings regarding the deaths of actors Vic Marrow, Renee Chen, and My-ca Dinh Le on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie. That was an incredibly tragic accident, but I do think John Landis has proven himself to be a fantastic director and would have made an even better version of Three Amigos if he had been able to finish the film himself.

Stunt Team for The Blues Brothers

 

The nod for Best Movie Stunt for 1980 goes to the stunt team for Blues Brothers.  The last 20 minutes of the film is one long car chase! 103 cars were wrecked during filming. At time of release, this was a world record, not beaten until 104 cars were wrecked in filming ‘Blues Brothers 2000 (1998)’.  At one point the blues mobile really was driven 118 mph under the elevated train line in Chicago.  They had to get special permission to do this.blues-brothers (1)

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 that saw only the the Montgomery Ward anchor store and mall power plant being demolished while the rest of the dead mall rotted unused, deals were finally struck that led to every part of the structure being torn down and cleared away in 2012.  By the way, it’s the director, John Landis, driving the second police vehicle in this chase.  He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to trash a mall.Blues_Brothers_car_chase

In the final car chase scene, the production actually dropped a Ford Pinto, representing the one driven by the “Illinois Nazis,” from a helicopter at an altitude of more than a mile—and had to gain a Special Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration to do it. The FAA was concerned that the car could prove too aerodynamic in a high-altitude drop, and pose a threat to nearby buildings. The shot leading up to the car drop, where the “Illinois Nazis” drive off a freeway ramp, was shot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin near the Hoan Bridge on Interstate 794. The Lake Freeway (North) was a planned but not completed 6-lane freeway and I-794 contained an unfinished ramp that the Nazis drove off. Several Milwaukee skyscrapers are visible in the background as the Bluesmobile flips over, notably the U.S. Bank Center.

The film used 13 different cars bought at auction from the California Highway Patrol to depict the Bluesmobile, a retired 1974 Mount Prospect, Illinois Dodge Monaco patrol car. The vehicles were outfitted by the studio to do particular driving chores; some customized for speed and others for jumps, depending on the scene. For the large car chases, filmmakers purchased 60 police cars at $400 each, and most were destroyed at the completion of the filming. More than 40 stunt drivers were hired and the crew kept a 24-hour body shop to repair cars.  For the scene when the Blues Brothers finally arrive at the Richard J. Daley Center, a mechanic took several months to rig the car to fall apart. In the end, it was the most expensive sequence ever filmed in Chicago at over $3.5 Million.  Blues Brothers was directed by John Landis for Universal Pictures.blues_brothers_original

Things to look up (go to IMDB page):

  • John Landis
  • Universal Pictures
  • Blues Brothers
Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!
Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM