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Planes and Trains and Also Automobiles

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By IllaZilla – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17786697

There are two nice deep dives into Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the finest Thanksgiving movie ever filmed, on its 35th anniversary. From Vanity Fair, an oral history:

Part of the difference of this character, more than anything I’ve ever done, is that the serious base of it sets up the comedy—like the more serious and tense the character is, the funnier it gets when he goes crazy or finds himself in an awkward situation or sleeping, you know, with John Candy.

The oral history is derived from a lot of different sources, and so includes quotes from parts of the cast and crew who have already passed. At AV Club, a similar article digs into the various contrivances that would be completely anachronistic today:

In an age of smartphones with access to the internet, digital wallets, and apps like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, there are so many solutions that make traveling easier than it was in 1987. We even have virtual meeting software that makes travel less necessary, so Steve Martin’s character might not even have had to be in New York to present a physical ad campaign to that indecisive client at all. Without that business trip two days before Thanksgiving there is no movie, but where else would it have stalled out along the way? Let’s take it beat by beat.

Not all of these are quite right (shower curtain rings are obsolete?) but it does offer a window into how the writing of certain kinds of classic misdirection sequences has become more difficult because of near-instantaneous communications technology. In any case, enjoy your Thanksgiving eve…

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