STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
MSRP: $19.98
• Original Screen Test
• Photo Gallery
• Rolling Stone Article
• TV Interview
• An Inside Look

The Pitch

“Remember when a Best of SNL compilation meant something?“

The Humans

The Not Ready For Prime Time Players, plus Elliot Gould, O.J. Simpson, Robert Klein, Michael O’Donoghue, Margot Kidder

The Nutshell

Dan Aykroyd had the college smarts. Chevy Chase had the ironic detachment. John Belushi was a force of nature, pure and simple. He was the most chaotic, dangerous member of the original Saturday Night cast, at the same time capable of vanishing into subtle, detailed characterizations. His death at 33 is still deeply felt, over twenty years later.

The Package

Once you get past the annoying menu design, this is more or less the same collection of clips that appeared on the old Best of Belushi videocassette, with the notable addition of “The Wolverines”. The extras are decent— a Today Show excerpt, in which Belushi and Aykroyd talk to Gene Shalit, is quite illuminating, while An Inside Look is a series of new interviews with surviving SNL veterans.

Image quality is very good: though there’s plenty of blurring and smearing characteristic of ‘70s video technology, colors are solid and dropouts are nonexistent.

The Lowdown

For a “Best of”, the choice of sketches and performances seems kind of arbitrary. I would have dropped the second Weekend Update monologue in favor of, say, “Duelling Brandos,” and the Superhero Party sketch doesn’t have enough of Belushi in it to merit its presence here. I’d also like to have seen more historical material—the first appearances of characters and catchphrases, that sort of thing. “Corleone Family Therapy,” “Luck of the Irish,” and the Blues Brothers’ “Soul Man” earn their keep.

Paul Schiller’s famous “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” in which an aged Belushi visits the graves of his fellow cast members, has been restored from the VHS version to something like its full length, which is nice. And more heartbreaking with every passing year.

7 out of 10