For this week’s “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something in the topic of “MOVIES” and go with Planes, Trains & Automobiles. This movie was released in 1987, and had 2 of the best comics of that day…and even to today’s standards. The movie was a crack-up and one that so many felt familiar with the adventure.
The movie is one that you could watch during the time of Thanksgiving and be thankful if you only have to drive a few blocks. Our family all lives out of state, so we just stay home and enjoy time together. If for some reason, you are of an age that makes it difficult to remember Planes, Trains & Automobiles, here’s a preview of the movie that we all saw before it came out:
Did you ever watch the Planes, Trains & Automobiles movie when you were younger? or have you seen it on TV or Netflix later in life? Let me know what you thought of it, and if you have any memories of it in your life!
More Info on the Planes, Trains & Automobiles Movie:
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a 1987 American comedy film written, produced and directed by John Hughes. The film stars Steve Martin as Neal Page, a high-strung marketing executive, who meets Del Griffith, played by John Candy, an eternally optimistic, outgoing, overly talkative, and clumsy shower curtain ring salesman. They share a three-day odyssey of misadventures trying to get Neal home to Chicago from New York City in time for Thanksgiving with his family.
Neal Page is an advertising executive in marketing trying to return to his family for Thanksgiving in Chicago after being on a business trip in New York City, but is delayed by an executive who cannot decide which mock-up will be used for an ad. After their meeting ends without a decision, Neal tries to find a cab and successfully hails one, but it is stolen by another man (Kevin Bacon in a cameo appearance). Del Griffith, a travelling salesman who sells shower curtain rings, has interfered by leaving his trunk at the edge of the street, causing Neal to fall over while racing the man for the cab. Del then unknowingly snatches a taxi ride that Neal has bought from an attorney. The two meet again at JFK Airport where they board a plane to O’Hare. Their plane is diverted to Wichita due to a blizzard in Chicago. What should have been a 1-hour and 45-minute New York-to-Chicago flight turns into a three-day ordeal, in which everything that can go wrong does.
The pair resort to various means to try and reach Chicago, but one attempt after another is defeated either by bad luck or Del’s incompetence. Forced to share a room in a cheap motel on the first night, Neal loses his temper with Del and lambastes him. In response, Del admits that he regards Neal as a cold cynic and says that despite how Neal feels, he likes himself and is liked by others because he is not afraid to be the way he is. Neal calms down and the two men go to sleep. During the night their cash is stolen by a burglar.
The following day they attempt to reach Chicago by train. However, the locomotive breaks down, leaving the passengers stranded in a Missouri field. After reaching Jefferson City, Del sells his remaining shower curtain rings to buy bus tickets, but neglects to tell Neal that they are only valid to St. Louis. Upon arrival, Neal again offends Del over lunch and the two part ways. Neal attempts to rent a car, but finds the rented car’s space at the distant rental lot empty. After walking through the cold to the airport terminal, Neal vents his anger at the rental agent to no avail. In desperation, he attempts to hail a taxi to Chicago, but insults the dispatcher who then attacks Neal. Del arrives in time to rescue Neal with his own rental car. While driving, the pair find themselves arguing again; the situation is made worse when Del nearly gets them killed on a freeway after spinning the car, driving in the wrong direction, and scraping between two semi-trailer trucks. While they take a moment to compose themselves by the side of the road, Del’s carelessly discarded cigarette sets fire to the rental car. Neal initially gloats over Del’s predicament, thinking that he is liable for the damage to the car. Neal’s amusement quickly turns to anger when Del reveals he used Neal’s credit card to rent the car after their cards were accidentally switched on the first night.
With his credit cards destroyed in the car fire, Neal sells his designer watch to a motel clerk to pay for a room for himself. Del is broke and attempts to sleep in the car, which has lost its roof in the fire. Neal eventually feels sympathy for Del and invites him in from the cold and snowy night. Neal relaxes as the two consume Del’s collection of airline liquors and laugh about the events of the past two days. The pair resume driving to Chicago the next morning, but their badly damaged car is impounded by the police. They finally make it to Chicago, two days late, in the back of a refrigerator truck.
The two men part ways at the LaSalle/Van Buren CTA station. While riding the train, Neal remembers some of the cryptic comments Del made about his wife during the journey and realizes that Del may be alone for the holiday. He returns to the station, sees Del sitting by himself and asks why he has not gone home. Del reveals that he does not have a home; his wife died eight years earlier. Neal returns home to his family and introduces them to Del, whom he has invited to Thanksgiving.
In a post-credits scene, the same executive from the very beginning of the film is still in the conference room trying to decide which ad to choose, with a partially eaten Thanksgiving dinner on the table.
Some of the Planes, Trains & Automobile Characters:
Steve Martin (Neal Page) was born August 14, 1945, and is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer and musician. Martin came to public notice in the 1960’s as a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later as a frequent guest on The Tonight Show. In the 1970’s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. Since the 1980’s, having branched away from comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, as well as an author, playwright, pianist and banjo player, eventually earning him an Emmy, Grammy and American Comedy awards, among other honors. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Martin at sixth place in a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics. He was awarded an Honorary Academy Award at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards in 2013. While he has played banjo since an early age, and included music in his comedy routines from the beginning of his professional career, he has increasingly dedicated his career to music since the 2000’s, acting less and spending much of his professional life playing banjo, recording, and touring with various bluegrass acts, including Earl Scruggs, with whom he won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 2002. He released his first solo music album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, in 2009, for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
John Candy (Del Griffith) was born October 31, 1950, and passed away March 4, 1994. He was a Canadian comedy actor known mainly for American films such as Spaceballs (1987), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), and Uncle Buck (1989). Candy rose to fame as a member of the Toronto branch of the Second City and its related Second City Television series, and through his appearances in such comedy films as Stripes, Splash, Cool Runnings, Summer Rental, The Great Outdoors, Spaceballs, and Uncle Buck, as well as more dramatic roles in Only the Lonely and JFK. One of his most renowned onscreen performances was as Del Griffith, the loquacious, on-the-move shower-curtain ring salesman in the John Hughes comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles. While filming the Western parody Wagons East!, Candy died of a heart attack in Durango, Mexico, on March 4, 1994, aged 43. His final two films, Wagons East! and Canadian Bacon, are dedicated to his memory.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Did You Know?
- No transportation company wanted to appear inept or deficient in any way, so crews had to rent twenty miles of train track and refurbish old railroad cars, construct a set that looked like an airline terminal, design a rent-a-car company logo and uniforms, and rent 250 cars for the infamous Rent-a-Car sequence.
- In the airport scene in Wichita, when the airline employee announces that the flight has been canceled, you can see on the board behind him that the destination of the flight is “nowhere”.
- Neal’s house was also a set built from scratch, consisting of seven rooms and taking five months to complete. It ended up costing $100,000, which angered Paramount executives and caused turmoil on the set.
- John Hughes’ original choice for the train station and platform was the station in Kankakee, Illinois, 60 miles south of Chicago. The cast and crew were in town for a week waiting for weather cold enough to make snow… and several interior scenes were filmed at an abandoned warehouse using a “cover set”.
- According to editor Paul Hirsch original cut of Planes, Trains & Automobiles was actually 220 minutes long. He and John Hughes edited it down to 120 minutes. This version was test screened and it was probably used to edit trailers for the film, which is why they show lot of deleted scenes. Movie was then edited again down to 90 minutes for theatrical release. According to Hirsch, 120 minute version still exists but he doesn’t know where it is.
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