AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Director: John Hughes (Dir)
Release Date:   25 Nov 1987
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 Nov 1987
Production Date:   2 Mar 1987--8 July 1987 in Buffalo, NY; Chicago, IL; and Los Angeles, CA
Duration (in mins):   93
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Cast:   Steve Martin (Neal Page)  
    John Candy (Del Griffith)  
    Laila Robins (Susan Page)  
  and Michael McKean (State trooper)  
  Also Starring: Dylan Baker (Owen)  
    Carol Bruce (Joy)  
    Olivia Burnette (Marti)  
    Diana Douglas (Peg)  
    Martin Ferrero (Motel clerk)  
    Larry Hankin (Doobie)  
    Richard Herd (Walt)  
    Susan Kellerman (Waitress)  
    Matthew Lawrence (Little Neal)  
    Edie McClurg (Car rental agent)  
    George O. Petrie (Martin)  
    Gary Riley (Motel thief )  
  [and] Charles Tyner (Gus)  
    Kevin Bacon (Taxi racer)  
    Susan Isaacs (Marie)  
    Lulie Newcomb (Owen's wife )  
    John Randolph Jones (Cab dispatcher)  
    Nicholas Wyman (New York lawyer )  
    Gaetano Lisi (Cab driver -- New York )  
    Diana Castle (Stewardess)  
    Julie H. Morgan (Stewardess)  
    Bill Erwin (Man on plane)  
    Ruth De Soza (New York ticket agent )  
    Ben Stein (Wichita aiport rep)  
    Kim Genell (Receptionist)  
    Grant Forsberg (Brand manager)  
    David Raiport (Cafe patron)  
    Andrew J. Hentz (Bus lover )  
    Karen Meisinger (Bus loverette )  
    Gary Palmer (Pilot)  
  Earring customers: Diane Nieman    
    Sylvia Vitrungs    
    Joann Taylor    
    Julie A. Herbert    
    Jennifer Allswang    
    Wendy Lee Avon    
  [and] Amy Meyers    
    John Mono (Screaming driver)  
    Victoria Vanderkloot (Screaming driver's wife )  

Summary: Two days before Thanksgiving, advertising pitchman Neal Page is stuck in a meeting in New York City, worried about making his airplane flight home to Chicago, Illinois. When the meeting ends, Neal has just over an hour to get to John F. Kennedy Airport from mid-town Manhattan. There’s a long line of people waiting for taxis on Park Avenue, so Neal offers to pay another man to let him have the taxi. However, as they haggle over the price, shower-curtain-ring salesman Del Griffith gets into the taxi with his large trunk and heads to the airport. Unable to hail another cab, Neal takes a bus to the airport, only to find his flight has been delayed. As he sits in the waiting area, he spots Del sitting across from him and confronts him about stealing his taxi. Del apologizes, saying he was unaware he was taking someone else’s taxi and offers to buy Neal a beer and a hot dog to make up for it, but Neal declines. When he gets on the plane, Neal discovers his seatmate is Del, who talks throughout the flight, despite Neal’s stating he wants to nap. When Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is closed due to a snowstorm, the flight is diverted to Wichita, Kansas. Upon landing, Neal telephones his wife, Susan, to tell her of the delay, but Del makes hotel reservations. He assures Neal the motel will have a room for him as well, but when they get to the Braidwood Inn, there is just one room left. They agree to share the room and split the cost. Settling into the room, the uptight, but ultra-neat Neal ends up arguing with the relaxed but messy Del. Neal tells Del he is boring and talks far too much. Del’s feelings are hurt, but he says there are people who like him. As the room only has one double bed, they must share it, but while they sleep, a thief breaks into the room and steals the cash from their wallets. The next morning over breakfast, the two realize all the flights to Chicago will be delayed because of the weather and decide to take the train instead. As they attempt to pay for the meals, they discover their wallets are empty. Fortunately, they still have their credit cards. The motel owner’s son gives them a ride to the train station in the back of his truck. As their seats on the train are not together, they say their goodbyes, wishing each other the best. However, the train experiences mechanical difficulties and stops in the middle of the country. The passengers are forced to walk a mile to get to the road where trucks will take them to Jefferson City, Missouri. When Neal sees Del struggling to pull his trunk across the field, he goes to help him. Once in Jefferson City, they board a bus to Chicago, but discover that their tickets only take them as far as St. Louis, Missouri. All the buses from St. Louis to Chicago are full due to the holidays. To get some cash, Del sells some of his shower curtain rings as earrings to passengers at the bus terminal. Over dinner, Neal suggests they split up to improve their chances of getting home. Del’s feelings are hurt, but nonetheless, he gives Neal half of the money he made from the earring sales. Neal rents a car at the airport, but when the shuttle bus drops him in the remote parking lot, there is no car in the designated space. In frustration, he tears up his rental agreement. With no attendant in the parking lot to help him and the shuttle bus gone, Neal returns to the Marathon car rental office. There, he yells obscenities at the woman working behind the counter, but she can do nothing for him without the rental agreement. An angry Neal walks outside and tells off an airport attendant who responds by punching him in the face. As Neal falls to the ground, Del drives up in a rental car and offers him a ride. Neal sleeps in the passenger seat while Del drives through the night. Del tosses a cigarette butt out the window, but it flies into the backseat. When he tries to take off his winter coat off, it gets stuck in the seat adjustment lever and he nearly drives the car off the road. Getting back on the freeway, he mistakenly goes the wrong direction, heading south in the northbound lanes on a deserted stretch of highway. Drivers in southbound lanes try to signal him, but Del is oblivious to their warnings. Suddenly, two freight trucks riding parallel to each other come over the hill. With no time to react, Del drives between them, so close that the car’s side mirrors are torn off. When the car comes to a stop, neither Del nor Neal is injured. They retrieve Del’s trunk that fell off the back of the car only to see the car burst into flames from the cigarette butt that flew into the back seat. The flames are extinguished with snow and the car is still drivable. They go to a nearby motel and get a room. After initially arguing, the two bond over snack machine chips and mini-bar bottles of liquor. The next morning, Thanksgiving morning, as they push the car out of the snow in the parking lot, Del accidently puts it in reverse and it crashes through the motel’s front window. They drive off in a rush to escape the scene. Later, a state trooper stops them for speeding, saying they were going seventy-eight miles per hour. Examining the car further, the trooper deems it unfit for travel and impounds it. Del arranges a ride to Chicago in the back of an Osh Konoggin Brands refrigerated dairy truck. When they arrive in Chicago, they go to the elevated railway station and say their goodbyes. However, after Neal gets on his train, he feels guilty and goes back to the station to invite Del to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Del admits that he does not have a home, since his wife, Marie, died eight years earlier. Del and Neal take the train to the suburbs where Neal’s family warmly welcomes Del to their Thanksgiving celebration. 

Production Company: Paramount Pictures (A Gulf + Western Company)
  Hughes Entertainment  
Production Text: Paramount Pictures Presents
A John Hughes Film
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures (A Gulf + Western Company)
Director: John Hughes (Dir)
  Neil A. Machlis (Unit prod mgr)
  Mark Radcliffe (1st asst dir)
  Arthur Anderson (2d asst dir)
  Jeanne Caliendo (2d 2d asst dir)
  Thomas A. Razzano (Unit prod mgr, New York crew)
  Pat Burns (Asst dir, New York crew)
  Tom Lisi (Asst dir, New York crew)
  Jimmy Greenhut (Asst dir, New York crew)
  James Giovannetti, Jr. (1st asst dir--2d unit, Chicago crew )
  Bennie Dobbins (2d unit dir)
  Bill Brown (2d unit dir)
  Richard Graves (1st asst dir, 2d unit)
Producer: John Hughes (Prod)
  Bill Brown (Assoc prod)
  Michael Chinich (Exec prod)
  Neil Machlis (Exec prod)
Writer: John Hughes (Wrt)
Photography: Don Peterman (Dir of photog)
  Keith Peterman (Cam op)
  Jeffrey Laszlo (Cam op)
  Ken Nishino (1st asst photog)
  Jay Peterman (2d asst photog)
  Joyce Rudolph (Still photog)
  Gary Palmer (Chief lighting tech)
  Mark Abbott (Asst chief lighting tech )
  Murphy Wiltz (Lamp op)
  Cal Sterry (1st company grip)
  Waverly Smothers (2d company grip)
  Richard Dow (Dolly grip)
  Phil Abrahams (Asst cam op, New York crew)
  Vincent Galindez (Asst cam op, New York crew)
  Richard Ford (Gaffer, New York crew)
  David Lowry (Key grip, New York crew)
  Bob Faison (1st asst photog, Chicago crew)
  Paul Cascio (2d asst photog, Chicago crew)
  John Hudacek (1st company grip, Chicago crew )
  Roger Anderson (Chief lighting tech, Chicago crew)
  Earl Linder (1st company grip, 2d unit )
  Mark Abbott (Chief lighting tech, 2d unit )
  Mike Wheeler (1st asst photog, 2d unit )
  Jeff Thorn (2d asst photog, 2d unit )
Art Direction: John W. Corso (Prod des)
  Harold Michelson (Art dir)
Film Editor: Paul Hirsch (Ed)
  Peck Prior (Addl ed by)
  Andrew London (Addl ed by)
  Adam Bernardi (Addl ed by)
  Jim Prior (Asst ed)
  David Dresher (Asst ed)
  Rick Howe (Apprentice ed)
  Emmy Scharlatt (Apprentice ed)
  Deborah Belovitch (Apprentice ed)
  Reel People, Inc. (Negative cutting by)
  Jerrie Fowler (Asst ed, Chicago crew)
Set Decoration: Jane Bogart (Set dec)
  Linda Spheeris (Set dec)
  Edmund Brown (Lead person)
  Louis Mann (Set des)
  Jack Marino (Prop master)
  Eddie Villa (Asst prop master)
  Jeff Passante (Const foreperson)
  Jim Davis (Propmaker foreperson)
  Michael Blaze (Prop master, 2d unit)
Costumes: April Ferry (Cost des)
  Paul Lopez (Key costumer)
  Silvio Scarano (Key costumer)
  Dennis Schoonderwoerd (Steve Martin's costumer)
Music: Ira Newborn (Mus score)
  Tarquin Gotch (Mus supv)
  Ron Payne (Mus coord)
  Anthony Marinelli (Addl mus score by)
  Brian Banks (Addl mus score by)
  Jeff Carson (Mus ed)
  Segue Music (Mus ed)
  Gary Ladinsky (Mus scoring mixer)
  Don Nemitz (Orchestrator)
  Evergreen Recording Studios, Inc. (Mus rec at)
  Group IV Recording (Mus rec at)
Sound: James Alexander (Sd mixer)
  Greg Agalsoff (Boom person)
  John Agalsoff, Jr. (Cableperson)
  Wylie Stateman (Supv sd ed)
  Lon E. Bender (Supv sd ed)
  Lorna Anderson (Sd ed)
  Victor Grodecki (Sd ed)
  Chris Jargo (Sd ed)
  Randy Kelley (Sd ed)
  Larry Kemp (Sd ed)
  Dan Rich (Sd ed)
  Hugo Weng (Sd ed)
  Stan Gilbert (ADR supv)
  Dean Drabin (Foley artist)
  Gary (Wrecker) Hecker (Foley artist)
  Alicia Stevenson (Foley artist)
  Chris Hogan (Asst sd ed)
  John Reitz (Re-rec mixer)
  Dave Campbell (Re-rec mixer)
  Gregg Rudloff (Re-rec mixer)
  Claus Wiedemann (Dolby Stereo consultant)
Special Effects: Stan Parks (Spec eff)
  Bill Aldridge (Spec eff)
  Roger Lifsey (Asst spec eff)
  Pacific Title (Titles and opticals by)
Make Up: Frank Griffin (Makeup artist)
  Toni-Ann Walker (Steve Martin's hair des by)
  Ben Nye, Jr. (John Candy's makeup des by)
  Dione Taylor (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Janet Hirshenson (Casting)
  Jane Jenkins (Casting)
  Nancy Hopton (Scr supv)
  Pam Alch (Scr supv)
  Cheryl Thompson (Video asst)
  Robert J. Goldstein (Loc mgr)
  Dan Marrow (Transportation coord)
  Gaston Veilleux (Transportation capt)
  Katherine Ann Curtiss (Prod office coord)
  Michelle Imperato (Prod secy)
  Andrew Lipschultz (Pub)
  Barbara Flinn (Extras casting)
  Central Casting (Extras casting)
  Jane Vickerella (Asst to John Hughes)
  Linda Gordon (Secy to John Hughes)
  Nyna Cravens (Asst to John Candy)
  Robert C. Thorson (Prod auditor)
  Kevin Buxbaum (Asst prod auditor)
  Scott Hart (Animal trainer)
  Peter Carley (Prod asst)
  Tim McNeal (Prod asst)
  Scott Nimerfro (Prod asst)
  Julie Donall (Prod asst)
  Jono Abrams (Prod asst)
  Art Klondike Jones (Craft service)
  Lydia Dean Pilcher (Loc coord, New York crew)
  Simon and Kumin (Casting, New York crew)
  Billy Higgins (Loc mgr, Chicago crew)
  Holzer Roche Casting, Inc. (Extra casting, Chicago crew)
  Billy Martin, Jr. (Transportation capt, Chicago crew)
  John Hardy (Transportation co-capt, Chicago crew)
  Richard S. Kordos (Chicago casting, Chicago crew)
  Nan Charbonneau (Chicago casting, Chicago crew)
Stand In: Bennie Dobbins (Stunt coord)
  Bob Jaurequi (Neal's stunt double )
  Jeff Jenson (Del's stunt double )
  Rick LeFevour (Doobie and Owen's stunt double)
  Corey Eubanks (Stunt driver)
  Mike Tillman (Stunt driver)
  Kent Hays (Utility stunts)
  Bill Lane (Utility stunts)
Color Personnel: Bob Raring (Col timer)
  Technicolor® (Col by)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: “Ba-Na-Na-Bam-Boo,” by Elizabeth Westwood, Nick Burton & Robert Andrews, performed by Westworld, produced by Mark Ferda, Westwood performs courtesy of BMG Records (UK) Ltd.; “Back In Baby’s Arms,” by Bob Montgomery, performed by Emmylou Harris, produced by Jimmy Bowen and Emmylou Harris, Emmylou Harris performs courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.; “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” by Bill Monroe; “Continental Trailways Blues,” by Steve Earle, performed by Steve Earle & The Dukes, produced by Steve Earle & Tony Brown, Steve Earle performs courtesy of MCA Records; “Everytime You Go Away,” by Daryl Hall, performed by Blue Rom, produced by Steve Levine; “I’ll Show You Something Special,” by Desmond Morris, Mark Morris & Steve Brown, performed by Balaam & The Angel, produced by Steve Brown, Balaam & The Angel performs courtesy of Virgin Records, Ltd.; “Lost Again,” by Boris Blank & Dieter Meier,” performed and produced by Yello, courtesy of Polygram Special Projects, a division of Polygram Records, Inc.; “(Meet) The Flintstones,” by William Hanna, Joseph Barbera & Hoyt S. Curtin; “Mess Around,” by Ahmet Ertegun, performed by Ray Charles, produced by Ahmet Ertegun & Jerry Wexler, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Special Projects; “Modigliani (Lost In Your Eyes)” by Susan Ottaviano, Jade Lee & Theodore Ottaviano, performed by Book of Love, produced by Ivan Ivan, courtesy of Sire Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products; “Power To Believe,” by Nick Laird-Clowes & Gilbert Gabriel, performed by the Dream Academy, produced by Hugh Padgram & Nick Laird-Clowes, courtesy of Reprise Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products; “Red River Rock,” by Tom King, Ira Mack & Fred Mendelsohn, performed by Silicon Teens, produced by Larry Least; “Six Days On The Road,” by Earl Green & Carl Montgomery,” performed by Steve Earle & The Dukes, produced by Steve Earle & Tony Brown, Steve Earle performs courtesy of MCA Records; “Three Coins In A Fountain,” by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne; “Wheels,” by Chris Hillman & Graham Parsons,” performed by Stars of Heaven, produced by Paul Barrett; “I Can Take Anything” (Love Theme from Planes, Trains and Automobiles), by David Steele, Andy Cox & John Hughes, performed by E.T.A. featuring Steve Martin & John Candy, produced by Stephen Hague; “Gonna Move,” by Dave Edmunds & Nick Lowe, performed and produced by Dave Edmunds.
Composer: Robert Andrews
  Joseph Barbera
  Boris Blank
  Steve Brown
  Nick Burton
  Sammy Cahn
  Andy Cox
  Hoyt S. Curtin
  Steve Earle
  Dave Edmunds
  Ahmet Ertegun
  Gilbert Gabriel
  Earl Green
  Daryl Hall
  William Hanna
  Chris Hillman
  John Hughes
  Tom King
  Nick Laird-Clowes
  Jade Lee
  Nick Lowe
  Ira Mack
  Dieter Meier
  Fred Mendelsohn
  Bob Mongomery
  Bill Monroe
  Carl Montgomery
  Desmond Morris
  Mark Morris
  Susna Ottaviano
  Theodore Ottaviano
  Graham Parsons
  David Steele
  Jule Styne
  Elizabeth Westwood
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Paramount Pictures Corporation 9/12/1987 dd/mm/yyyy PA358795

PCA NO: 28537
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
  col: Col by Technicolor
  Lenses: Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Road
Subjects (Major): Airplanes
Subjects (Minor): Airports
  Snow storms
  Thanksgiving Day

Note: End credit include “special thanks” to: “California Film Commission; California Highway Patrol; California Department of Transportation; Illinois Film Office; Chicago Office of Film; Illinois State Police; Chicago Transit Authority; Missouri Film Commission; New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and TV Development; New York City Mayor’s Office for Film and TV.”
       Planes, Trains and Automobiles marked writer-director John Hughes’ first adult comedy after making a name for himself with teen comedies like Sixteen Candles (1984, see entry) and The Breakfast Club (1985, see entry). Promotional information in AMPAS library files indicated that Hughes based the script on his experiences traveling from Chicago to New York while working in advertising.
       The movie was also the first Hughes-directed film to receive an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The 26 Oct 1987 HR indicated Paramount Pictures appealed the decision, but the MPAA’s appeals board upheld the R rating. The 6 Nov 1987 DV reported the R rating came from the use of the “F-word” nineteen times in a single scene. Star Steve Martin indicated the F-word was appropriate for the scene because his character’s frustrations had been building to the point of exploding into profanity.
       Principal photography began on 2 Mar 1987 in the Buffalo, NY area, according to 10 Mar 1987 HR production charts. Reports in the 27 Apr 1987 HR indicated the film was originally scheduled to be shot entirely in the Chicago, IL area, but a lack of snowfall there forced the move to Buffalo. Later, the production moved to Chicago for more exterior scenes and then to New York City. Other exteriors were filmed in the Los Angeles, CA, area.
       The film opened on 1,100 screens on 25 Nov 1987, which was the day before Thanksgiving that year. Reviews were positive and the film earned $10.1 million in its first five days of release according the 2 Dec 1987 HR.
       Singer Elton John wrote a theme song for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, according to the 25 Oct 1987 LAT. However, contractual technicalities prevented him, or any other artist, from recording it.


Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   20 Nov 1987.   p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Mar 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   27 Apr 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Oct 1987.   
Hollywood Reporter   20 Nov 1987   p. 3, 38.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Dec 1987.   
Los Angeles Times   25 Oct 1987.   
Los Angeles Times   25 Nov 1987   p. 1.
New York Times   25 Nov 1987   p. 19.
Variety   11 Mar 1987.   
Variety   25 Nov 1987   p. 14.

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