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'Trading Places' turns 30: Five things you didn't know about the greatest Wall Street movie of our time



When I say Trading Places, what do you think of first? Eddie Murphy in the jail scene? "I'm a karate man! Karate man bruises on the inside!" Or maybe it's Dan Aykroyd in possibly the best movie role of his career. "Those men wanted to have SEX with me!" Or more likely it's the image of Jamie Lee Curtis standing in front of the mirror ... Yeah, that's it.

If you ask, they'll say it's the lessons of the stock market and commodities they remember most. The website called this 1983 masterpiece by John Landis "the greatest Wall Street movie ever made." Really? Even above the self-titled flick starring Chuck Sheen and Mikey Douglas? Go figure.

Here are five things we learned by's oral history of Trading Places:

1. The original name of the movie was Black & White. Landis recalls it was based on the Frank Capra screwball economy flicks of the 1930s. It was originally developed for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.

2. The Duke brothers, played by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, were based on a real pair of brothers who were doctors, according to co-writer Tim Harris. The wealthy siblings would bicker constantly while playing tennis on public tennis courts, often betting just 50 cents per game (hence the one-dollar bet in the movie).

3. Jamie Lee Curtis jumped at the movie as a chance to get out of doing horror movies. Landis had to fight the studios and casting agents to get Curtis on board.

4. Don Ameche hadn't done a movie in 14 years -- and casting agents thought he was dead -- when Landis sought him out to play one of the Duke brothers. On the success of Trading Places, Ameche landed one of the lead roles in Cocoon, for which he won an Oscar.

5. In the trading scenes, about 90 percents of the traders are actual real-life traders and much of it was shot during actual trading hours. The script called for the commodity market scenes to be shot in Chicago at the commodities exchange, but the exchange wouldn't allow it.


[Last modified: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:09pm]


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