Trading Places has, since its release, been scrutinized both positively and negatively, earning praise as one of the greatest comedy films and Christmas films ever made while also drawing criticism for its use of racial humor.
Anyone familiar with John Landis collaborations, such as The Blues Brothers and Beverly Hills Cop 3, may recognize many of the cast members from this film, such as Giancarlo Esposito and Al Franken, who make guest appearances.
Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy shined in this movie. Their scenes together on the train are hilarious, each trying to outdo each other with physical comedy. Aykroyd describes it as an intense scene to film with both actors bumping elbows often; so enjoyable was this scene that it has become an iconic classic of 1980s comedy.
Trading Places centers on an experiment by Randolph and Mortimer Duke’s wealthy employers, specifically involving two commodities brokers played by Dan Aykroyd (A) and street hustler Eddie Murphy (M). Their roles switch in an exchange-trade experiment designed by Randolph. Trading places are named for commodity trading being their line of work.
At its debut, this film received widespread critical acclaim, with reviewers noting its reinvention of the screwball comedy genre. Box-office success followed, becoming one of the top movies released that year and one of the year’s top films overall. Furthermore, critics lauded its originality and casting choices while earning it two BAFTA awards – for Jamie Lee Curtis and Denholm Elliott, respectively.
Trading Places features more than just Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy; for the attentive viewer, it features numerous cameo appearances by iconic performers such as singer Bo Diddley as a pawnbroker, Muppets puppeteer Frank Oz as a police officer, Richard Hunt playing Wilson (the Duke brothers’ broker on the securities exchange floor), singer Bo Diddley as a pawnbroker, Muppets puppeteer Frank Oz as an officer of law enforcement, singer Bo Diddley as an expert pawnbroker; singer Bo Diddley as pawnbroker; Muppets puppeteer Frank Oz voiced police officers; Richard Hunt as Wilson (broker on securities exchange floor), Muppets puppeteer Frank Oz as police officer (while Richard Hunt played his character from within).
Tom Davis and Al Franken from Saturday Night Live star in this film as train baggage handlers and securities exchange managers, respectively. Jim Belushi appears as a partygoer to pay tribute to John Belushi (deceased). Elmer Bernstein composed its musical score, previously working on The Blues Brothers, and was nominated for an Academy Award nomination back then.
Murphy was relatively unknown at the time of filming; having just started his acting career on Saturday Night Live in 1980 as Mister Robinson (an anagram for Mister Rogers) and convict-poet Tyrone Green were just some of the memorable characters he created. Soon enough, though, Murphy won everyone thanks to his charismatic charm, quickly landing his first significant movie role alongside Nick Nolte in 48 Hours.
Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder had initially been cast to portray the Duke brothers; however, he could no longer continue with this project due to Pryor’s drug abuse affecting his health. Instead, Eddie Murphy, who impressed on set for Stir Crazy, became their choice as a replacement.
Trading Places was an incredible hit at the box office and cemented Murphy as one of Hollywood’s leading stars. Since then, he has appeared in successful movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Daddy Day Care; he also voiced Donkey for the Shrek franchise receiving BAFTA and MTV Movie Award nominations.
Trading Places at Alliance Theatre features an extraordinary creative team led by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Soldier’s Play, A Raisin in the Sun). Television and film writer Thomas Lennon provided Book; Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner co-wrote Music & Lyrics with Tony Award-nominated choreographer Fatima Robinson while Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche reprised their roles as cast members of the 1983 film adaptation.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis decided to leave college after studying law for one semester instead pursuing acting. She quickly secured minor roles on TV shows like Quincy M.E and Columbo. She appeared in Operation Petticoat, an original military comedy television series inspired by her father’s 1959 movie of the same name.
Her career took off after being cast as Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s horror movie Halloween in 1979; this role earned her the moniker of “scream queen,” leading to roles in numerous horror, thriller, and slasher movies in subsequent years.
Jamie Lee Curtis was an award-winning actress, yet she still struggled with numerous personal problems. She found it challenging to maintain healthy relationships with either parent and faced difficulties at school due to ADHD; furthermore, she struggled to deal with her mother’s alcoholism and drug use, ultimately being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and spending some time in a mental hospital.
In 2002, she returned in the hit Disney film Freaky Friday as she played a mother who swaps bodies with her daughter – for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination! Kelly Curtis is her older sister, and there are also half-siblings from his side.
Jamie Lee Curtis has made waves as an actor through her venture into television hosting. She hosted the initial season of Trading Spaces before being replaced by Paige Davis; other television appearances include Carter Can, Million Dollar Rooms, and Design Star All Stars on HGTV, and builds on various talk shows.
Ralph Bellamy had an expansive filmography spanning more than 100 films. As an adaptable performer, Ralph often found himself cast in second lead or supporting roles while being known for his comic stage presentations that translated seamlessly onto screen roles in comedy and dramatic film productions. Additionally, Ralph was often featured as an onscreen figure during television series appearances during his career.
Bellamy began his acting career in a Chicago suburb, where he formed his troupe of actors. Later he worked with several repertory and touring companies before making his Broadway debut with Boy Meets Girl, His Girl Friday, Flight Angels, and The Wolf Man. Bellamy debuted in 1933 and appeared in many screwball comedies before becoming best-known for his performance as a “nice but dull” character who loses out to Cary Grant’s leading lady role in the 1937 film “The Awful Truth.”
Bellamy was widely respected among members of Actors’ Equity, holding four terms as president during his career. Additionally, he was an accomplished writer and director, having directed both The Professionals TV movie (1966) and Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (68). Bellamy made his final film appearance on L.A. Law in 2007 as father-and-son lawyer team alongside William Shatner.
Trading Places saw Bellamy team up with Don Ameche as the Duke Brothers – two real-life screwball comediennes inspired by 1930s screwball comedies – as the villains. Landis took full advantage of these actors by casting two real-life screwball stars as villains; later on in Beverly Hills Cop III, these same actors would come back together again as heroes!
Don Ameche was a trendy actor during the 1930s and 1940s, usually cast as appealing upper-class sophisticate with good looks and pencil-thin moustaches that made audiences love him. His versatility allowed him to transition easily between radio, theater, and film roles; radio was his specialty, while theatre, television, and films provided opportunities too. While film popularity faded after 1955 for Ameche, he continued acting, often on TV or theater productions like Take a Chance or To Tell the Truth as an emcee or regular on five-day-a-week High Button Shoes or Climax; later hosted International Showtime series during the late 60s years!
Trading Places follows an uptight commodities broker (Aykroyd) and an ambitious street hustler (Murphy). Screenwriter Timothy Harris created this story while playing tennis with two wealthy brothers with an ongoing feud; Herschel Weingrod provided vital research. Harris and Landis initially wanted to film it with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder as lead characters but were unavailable.
Initially, director John Landis was unfamiliar with Eddie Murphy and suggested him for the role of an unknown actor. Landis then cast Dan Aykroyd instead, who had worked alongside Eddie on The Blues Brothers and had recently featured as Eddie’s counterpart in 48 Hrs.
Landis searched for an actor to play Mortimer, an obnoxious trader who loses his fortune. Ameche initially seemed ideal until Landis realized he hadn’t appeared in any film since 1986 and assumed he might have died. One of Landis’ secretaries called directory assistance and located “Don Ameche,” living on San Vicente Boulevard in Santa Monica; Landis then called and convinced him to accept the role despite declining Ray Milland’s offer of compensation.