Vanity Fair's history of the making of The Blues Brothers is amazing, a story as madcap and improbable as the movie itself (though there's a lot more coke in the story of the movie). This is one of my favorite films of all time -- at one point I could quote the whole movie by heart (which created a lot of dissonance when I saw the DVD release and they'd added scenes -- it was like discovering extra rooms in a house I knew so well I could get around with my eyes closed).
Weiss calls Sean Daniel. “Good news,” Weiss reports. “The first draft finally got here.” It is not the typical 120-page draft. “It’s 324 pages,” Weiss says. “We have a lot of work to do.”
The script contains great scenes and inspired ideas but is written in a kind of free-verse style. It includes lengthy, Aykroyd-esque explications of Catholicism, recidivism—you name it. It gets meta, with separate story lines detailing the recruitment of all eight backup musicians.
“The script is never-ending,” Ned Tanen thinks. “It doesn’t really work. It’s like a long treatment or something”—a treatment being a detailed outline the writer produces before writing a script. The Blues Brothers is scheduled to begin shooting in two months.
Landis, script in hand, locks himself away. He cuts, shapes, tones. Then he cuts some more. Three weeks later, he emerges with a script that’s down to size and, as they say, shootable. More or less. It still lacks certain basics, such as stage directions.
Soul Men: The Making of The Blues Brothers [Ned Zeman/Vanity Fair]