Tuesday, December 27, 2016

EXTRA: No more for 'mystery' woman packing flamethrower and an M-16

I still recall a moment from a bus tour of Chicago I once took – not one of those floofy types of tours with a double-decker bus where we see the Hancock Building and other downtown structures.

This one was of the Calumet area of Chicago on the Southeast Side, and I still remember at one point our bus was passing through The Bush when the guide pointed out a dumpy little storefront at 85th Street and Burley Avenue – telling us that it was used as a set for that 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”
SURE ENOUGH IT was the building that once had the sign on it identifying it as the “Curl Up and Dye” hair salon – which appeared in one scene where Carrie Fisher (who was the mystery woman out to kill John Belushi’s “Jake Blues” character) was reading the field manual for the proper way to use a flamethrower.

Just one of several weapons she burnished during that film (ultimately relying on an M-16 military-style assault rifle for the scene where she finally caught up with Jake, her one-time fiancé who had spurned her).

As a native of the nearby South Chicago neighborhood, it always amused me to think that Fisher (who by that point had already given us her hair-bun adorned performance in Star Wars that most people are remembering Tuesday as the high point of her career) was actually once in The Bush.

Which was, at its peak, a neighborhood for the people who actually lived in the nearby steel mills that used to exist, and now is a place for their extended families who for whatever reason haven’t been able to move on with their lives.

NOT EXACTLY THE kind of place that would be expected to have a Hollywood-style tinge to it. Although the nearby 95th Street bridge over the Calumet River is the one that will forevermore live for the scene where the Blues Brothers drove their car over its open expanse.

That is what popped into my mind when I learned Tuesday that Fisher, who was 60 (which is barely older than I am), died from complications due to that heart attack she suffered during the Christmas holiday weekend while riding on an airplane.

Fisher, who appeared in, and directed, a string of films during an interesting career that also included authoring some books, is no longer with us physically. Although her memory will live on through the output of her work -- which really does consist of more than just an absurd hairdo or a "gold" bikini -- that we’ll be able to check out for decades to come.

Then, there's the great unanswered question -- is Fisher's mystery woman character now traversing the heavens in search of Belushi's "Jake Blues" still seeking revenge? Or does Jake finally "do right" by his woman, and they spend eternity happily ever after?


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