That mission from God paid off: “The Blues Brothers” officially has bested “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “A League of Their Own,” “The Untouchables” and “Call Northside 777,” among others, to claim the title of No. 1 movie made in and/or set in Illinois.
First seen by millions in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, Jake and Elwood Blues as played, sung and danced by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, took their act into movie theaters by way of director John Landis’ lavishly destructive and locally beloved 1980 bash.
The film topped a recent online poll, the first in a state promotional effort celebrating “the Illinois Top 200,” sponsored by Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; the State Journal-Register newspaper and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Illinois turns 200 on Dec. 3.
“You got your wish,” the Lincoln Presidential Library (@ALPLM) tweeted me Monday. “Ferris Bueller did not take the top spot.”
The nominees in the poll included “The Untouchables,” “The Sting,” “Medium Cool,” “In the Heat of the Night” (a Mississippi-set drama filmed in Sparta, Ill.) and my favorite on the list, the best-ever film version of the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur newspaper comedy “The Front Page”: “His Girl Friday.”
That 1940 Howard Hawks picture is strictly Hollywood soundstage in look, feel and fact. But the source material is unmistakably part of Chicago’s literary tradition of scoundrels, crooks and amorality.
There is, however, a fascinating debate regarding the precise locale of “His Girl Friday,” which remains intriguingly fluid in the shooting script. Is it truly a Chicago-set story? Stay tuned for a column on that subject.
The “Illinois Top 200” project continues, meantime, with online voting underway to select Illinois’ top businesses. In this corner: McDonald’s and the Pullman Company! In the opposite corner: Rand McNally, United Airlines and DeKalb Ag Research! Go to www.IllinoisTop200.com and please vote wisely. This is serious.
And no, you can’t write in “Ferris Bueller.”
Michael Phillips is a Tribune critic.