Trading Places

Released: 1983
Director: John Landis

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis

An 80s classic to be treasured – not remade with the latest floppy haired teen idol


One of the most well-worn clichés in life is that you know you are getting old when policemen look young.  Cliché or not, it’s true.  Another sure-fire sign is when you remember chart songs from the first time round and tut angrily at the horrendous cover versions.  Yes Black-Eyed Peas I’m looking at you…  I know I’m getting old because I’m dreading the inevitable remakes of my favourite 80s and 90s films.

There’s a spate of remakes already released including The Karate Kid, Nightmare on Elm Street and Arthur.  Others are still only rumours or are stuck in the development stage including Footloose, Overboard and Top Gun.  The very thought of some of these new films makes a little bit of my soul die, however it has got me considering my favourite films and how I would feel about any potential remakes.

I’m passionately attached to films and hate the idea of spoiling the magic.  I won’t watch It’s A Wonderful Life in colour, I refuse to see the “sequel” to Dirty Dancing – Havana Nights or go to see the apparently brilliant stage version.  The thought of a CGI Gizmo in a 3D remake of Gremlins is enough to keep me awake at night sobbing.  I think, though, the film I would be most upset to see a remake of is the 1983 John Landis classic Trading Places.  Let’s face it though, it’s probably ripe to be remade, particularly in light of all the financial shenanigans going on at the moment.  We’d easily believe that a couple of bankers (or brokers, they’re all the same anyway) would be evil enough to wreck the lives of a pair of innocents just for fun.

Trading Places follows privileged white broker Louis Winthrop III and penniless black conman Billy Ray Valentine as they are used as pawns by brothers Randolph and Mortimer Duke (wonderfully played by Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) in an experiment on nature versus nurture.  Can they simultaneously turn successful Louis into an abject failure while making Billy Ray a financial and society star?  As Louis finds his world falling apart, Billy Ray is stunned by his new life and opportunities but what will happen when the two men find out they are just part of a brotherly bet?

The pairing of Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy is nothing short of genius, both giving their characters the spark of humanity needed to create empathy rather than just relying on broad humour to keep the audience interested.  The supporting performances are also excellent, particularly Denholm Elliot as crafty butler Coleman and Jamie Lee Curtis as the archetypal tart with a heart Ophelia.

According to some film academics Trading Places is nothing more than an up to date version of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro where a wily servant outfoxes his evil master.  Could be true for all I know, music from the opera does after all play a significant role in the film’s soundtrack.  Be that as it may, there are some films which should be left alone and treasured just as they are – Trading Places is one of them.

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  1. I am passionate about this film too!! Eddie Murphy at the top of his game!! Such a great film to watch on the Christmas Holidays!! excellent!

    I will sign any petition to NOT have this remade….leave it in the 80s

    • I think we’ve got a plan here. If there’s even a rumour that there’s going to be a remake of Trading Places we get the petition on the Number 10 website and we hand out pitchforks and torches to angry villagers (bloggers) who don’t want to see such a monster created.

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