A road trip movie, a buddy comedy and teen-angst director du jour, John Hughes’ first attempt at a holiday movie. It’s a classic double-act farce that might not fit that well in the decade it came out in. There are no guns or bad guys like 48 Hours or Lethal Weapon; no winks at Cold War anxiety a la Spies Like Us; and no time machine like Bill and Ted used in their excellent adventure. What it does share with a number of his best works is that mix of Norman Rockwell and Frank Capra in Reagan’s America late 80’s vibe. Steve Martin’s Neal wants to get home to his family for the November holiday; John Candy’s Del, as we find out by the end, doesn’t even have a home to go home to. Despite whatever hell they’ve put each other through, they’re friends after all is said and done – and you should always invite friends over for Thanksgiving when they’ve got nowhere else to go. So for this episode of the 80’s Flick Flashback, guest co-host Laramy Wells joins Tim Williams to do their best to make the trek from New York City to Chicago by way of Witchita (and even Wisconsin) as they discuss “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”.
Here are some additional behind the scenes trivia we were unable to cover on this episode:
- Jeri Ryan — of Star Trek: Voyager fame — messed up her first movie role and got herself fired. During the bus scene, Candy and Steve Martin were "doing goofy things between takes," Ryan told Mr. Showbiz (via SFFChronicles). After three days of laughing too hard at Candy and Martin's antics when cameras rolled, the up and coming actress was told not to come back. Even previous Hughes collaborators weren't safe. Jeffrey Jones, Principal Ed Rooney from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, had his part cut from the movie, too.
- McClurg, probably best known as Grace, Principal Rooney’s secretary in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, played the St. Louis car rental employee upon whom Neal dropped 18 F-bombs. For the first few takes, McClurg simply raised her finger and had a standard phone conversation with a customer. Then Hughes told her to improvise talking on the phone about Thanksgiving. She then came up with the stuff about needing roasted marshmallows and taking care of the crescent rolls because she can’t cook based on her own life. When she finished, Hughes asked her how she came up with those details so quickly. When McClurg explained she just got it from her own life just like he does with his scripts, he said, “Oh yeah!” She claims people to this day ask her to tell them they’re f*cked.
- The exterior of the rental car was designed to resemble that of the Griswolds' station wagon, from John Hughes' previous production, National Lampoon's Vacation (1983).
Sources: Wikipedia, Imdb, Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office Mojo, Looper.com, MentalFloss.com, RollingStone.com, YouTube - “Getting There Is Half the Fun: The Story of Planes, Trains and Automobiles” & "The Lost Version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles: A Docu-Mini"
Intro & Outro Music: “Total Eclipse” by Nathaniel Wyver
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