Chicago Sun-Times “The Blues Brothers” 40th Anniversary Coverage: Here’s the Southeast Side church where the Blues Brothers see the light — thanks to James Brown


“In ‘The Blues Brothers,’ John Belushi’s character was so inspired by preacher James Brown he glowed — radiating in a beam of light — and then he flip-flopped down the center aisle of the Triple Rock Church.

“In real life, on any given Sunday, arm-waving children, dressed in bright purples, blues, yellows and greens, dance enthusiastically at the Pilgrim Baptist Church of South Chicago, where the movie was filmed. Colorful bonnets — from turquoise to pink to white — dot the pews. The music is loud and powerful, and the Rev. Hillard Hudson, holding his hands in the air and wearing a coat laced with crosses, screams, ‘There is nothing wrong with celebrating for Jesus!’ Parishioners shout back, ‘Hallelujah!’ and ‘Praise the Lord!’ It’s a scene only slightly less energetic than Brown’s over-the-top rendition of ‘The Old Landmark’ in ‘The Blues Brothers.’ The scene pays homage to Chicago as the birthplace of gospel.

“The 103-year-old Pilgrim Baptist church is still alive and well at 3235 E. 91st, although it has gone through changes since the Blues Brothers went to ‘get wise’ and ‘get to church,’ as Cab Calloway, in the role of their orphanage mentor Curtis, urged them to do.

Although the interior of the church was shot in Hollywood, the re-creation was so exact that the pastor at the time wondered if film crews had sneaked inside. As it was, crews filmed outside — a glorious shot that showed off the large, leaning cross atop a high steeple — and in a vestibule as the Blues Brothers head inside. That steeple — which led locals to coin the name ‘Church with the Crooked Cross’ — was why director John Landis decided to film there, he said.

The movie producers paid to install stained-glass windows in front of the church to match the intricate ones in the rest of the building. Since then, however, most of the original stained glass sits covered in dust in a back storage area because the church can’t afford to have them repaired.” (Newbart, 6/21/20)

Read the full story at Chicago Sun-Times

Here’s the Southeast Side church where the Blues Brothers see the light — thanks to James Brown; Sundays at Pilgrim Baptist Church jump and ring with praise and hallelujahs, Dave Newbart, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/21/20


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