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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Hughes
Written byJohn Hughes
Produced byJohn Hughes
CinematographyDonald Peterman
Edited byPaul Hirsch
Music byIra Newborn
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 25, 1987 (1987-11-25)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[2]
Box office$49.5 million

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a 1987 American comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes and starring Steve Martin and John Candy, with supporting roles by Laila Robins and Michael McKean. It tells the story of Neal, a high-strung marketing executive, and Del, a good-hearted but irritating salesman, who become travel companions when their flight is diverted, and embark on a three-day odyssey of misadventures trying to reach Chicago in time for Neal's Thanksgiving Day dinner with his family.

The film was released on November 25, 1987 to critical acclaim, with many praising it for Hughes branching out from teen comedies, and for Candy's and Martin's performances. It was also a box office success, earning $49.5 million on a $15 million budget. Watching the film has since become a Thanksgiving Day tradition for many.[3]


The route taken by Del Griffith and Neal Page in the film.

Neal Page is an advertising executive on a business trip in New York City, eager to return to his family in Chicago two days before Thanksgiving. After a late-running business meeting with an indecisive client named Mr. Bryant, Neal struggles to hail a cab during rush hour. As he bribes a man to let him have a cab he has hailed, someone else takes it.

Neal arrives at LaGuardia Airport just as his flight is delayed. While waiting, he meets the person who unwittingly stole his cab, Del Griffith, a talkative shower curtain ring salesman. To his dismay, Neal is assigned a seat next to Del on the crowded flight to O'Hare International Airport.

A blizzard in Chicago diverts the plane to Wichita, Kansas, where Neal and Del must stay overnight as Neal tells his wife, Susan, what happened. Neal is unable to book a room, but Del has reserved one, so he reluctantly accepts Del's promise of a room if Neal pays for their taxi ride to the motel. During check-in, however, Del mistakenly takes Neal's credit card and vice versa. Forced to share the last available room, Neal loses his temper over Del's irritating behavior. Del is hurt, but both men calm down and awkwardly share the bed. While they sleep, a burglar steals their cash.

The next day, with air travel still prohibitively delayed, Neal buys them both train tickets to Chicago, with seats in separate cars. However, the locomotive breaks down near Jefferson City, Missouri, stranding its passengers in a field. Neal takes pity on Del struggling with his trunk, and they reunite, traveling on a crowded bus to St. Louis, where Del raises cash by selling curtain rings to passers-by as earrings. However, Neal accidentally offends Del over lunch with the suggestion of going their own directions, and the men part ways again.

At the St. Louis Airport, Neal attempts to rent a car, but it is missing when he gets to the lot. After a long and perilous walk back to the terminal, he vents his anger in a profane tirade at the rental agent to no avail. He attempts to book a taxi to Chicago but impatiently insults the dispatcher, who then punches him in the face. By chance, Del arrives at the scene in his own rental car and takes the dazed Neal with him. As they drive, they argue again, and Del nearly gets them killed overnight when he drives in the wrong direction on a freeway. As they compose themselves by the side of the road, Del's carelessly discarded cigarette sets the car on fire. Neal initially gloats, thinking that Del is liable for the damage, until Del reveals he had found Neal's credit card in his wallet and used it to rent the car, much to his ire.

With his credit cards destroyed in the fire, Neal barters his expensive watch for a motel room. Del has nothing of value, so he attempts to sleep in the charred, roofless car. Seeing this, Neal pities Del and invites him inside. They share Del's collection of miniature liquors and laugh about the events of the past two days. The next day, the pair resume their trip in the burnt car, but the Illinois State Police impounds it for being unroadworthy. Del persuades a trucker to take them to Chicago, and they ride in the truck's refrigerated trailer.

At a Chicago "L" station, Neal sincerely thanks Del for getting him home, and they part ways with affection. As Neal rides a commuter train to his neighborhood, he recalls some of Del's odd comments and silences during the journey. It occurs to him that Del has not actually been trying to get home himself. Neal returns to the station, where he finds Del still sitting. Del explains to him that he is homeless and a widower, as his wife had died eight years earlier. Neal decides to bring Del home for Thanksgiving dinner, and introduces his family to his new friend.

In a post-credits scene, Mr. Bryant is still in the office alongside a half-eaten Thanksgiving dinner, still trying to decide on a poster.




Planes, Trains and Automobiles began filming in February 1987 and lasted 85 days,[5][6] mostly in Batavia, New York, and South Dayton, New York.[7] A scene that takes place in St. Louis was filmed at St. Louis Lambert International Airport.[8][9] There was also a scene in Braidwood, Illinois, at the Sun Motel.[10] Rewrites Hughes did during filming made the amount of footage he shot much larger than the original screenplay needed, and the film's first cut was three hours and 45 minutes long.[6] A subplot about Neal's wife not believing him and suspecting that he is with other women was cut.[6]


The soundtrack to Planes, Trains & Automobiles features a mix of rock and roll, country and pop. The frenetic musical score by Ira Newborn makes extensive use of the folk song "Red River Valley," including a cover of Johnny and the Hurricanes' rock and roll version, "Red River Rock", performed by the British group Silicon Teens. Among other tracks is a cover version of "Back in Baby's Arms". The song, popularized by Patsy Cline, is performed by Emmylou Harris. Another popular song used in the movie is "Mess Around" written by Ahmet Ertegun and performed by Ray Charles.

A cover version of "Six Days on the Road" was used in the film, performed by Steve Earle & The Dukes. The film also featured the contemporary pop song "Modigliani (Lost in Your Eyes)" by Book of Love, using both the original single and the Requiem Mass Remix. A special instrumental version of "Power to Believe" by The Dream Academy, which the band recorded at Hughes's request, is extensively used in the film as Del's unofficial theme.

A cover of "Everytime You Go Away" performed by Blue Room is played over the final scene and the credits; Hughes planned to use Paul Young's well-known hit version but was denied the rights by the record company even though Young approved of Hughes's planned use of the song and wanted to see it included.[11] The soundtrack album was released in 1987 as a physical vinyl and compact disc, but has since gone out of print. It is available for download on iTunes.[12] "Everytime You Go Away" and "Power to Believe" were not included on the album (the soundtrack instead featured the original version of "Power to Believe" with lyrics). The instrumental version of "Power to Believe" was not released until 2014, when The Dream Academy included it on its compilation album The Morning Lasted All Day: A Retrospective.


Box office[edit]

The movie opened in American theaters on November 25, 1987 (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), and finished third for the weekend, grossing $7,009,482. After its first five days, the film grossed $10,131,242 and stayed in the top ten for seven weeks. The movie finished its 12-week American run on January 22, 1988, with $49,530,280.[13] The production budget was $15 million.[2] The film was released in the United Kingdom on February 12, 1988, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[14]


The film marked a widely noticed change in the repertoire of John Hughes, generally considered a teen angst filmmaker at the time.[15][16] It was greeted with critical acclaim upon release,[17][18][19][20] in particular receiving two thumbs up from Siskel & Ebert, with Gene Siskel declaring it Candy's best role to date. The film was featured in Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" collection, Ebert writing that it "is perfectly cast and soundly constructed, and all else flows naturally. Steve Martin and John Candy don't play characters; they embody themselves. That's why the comedy, which begins securely planted in the twin genres of the road movie and the buddy picture, is able to reveal so much heart and truth."[21] Leonard Maltin called the movie a "bittersweet farce", arguing that while the film was "hurt by an awful music score", Hughes "refuses to make either one (Martin or Candy) a caricature—which keeps this amiable film teetering between slapstick shenanigans and compassionate comedy."[22]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 92% based on 66 reviews, with an average score of 7.9/10. The site's critics consensus states: "Thanks to the impeccable chemistry between Steve Martin and John Candy, as well as a deft mix of humor and heart, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a hilarious, heartfelt holiday classic."[23] On Metacritic it has a score of 72 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[24] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade "B+" on scale of A+ to F.[25]



Argun Ulgen categorized Planes, Trains and Automobiles as a lively portrayal of in-person interactions between people of different economic classes: "people curse, make out in public, speak in platitudes, and retell the same jokes; generally, they are coarse and loud, imperfect, but not without love."[26]

Home media[edit]

Planes, Trains and Automobiles had its first DVD release on November 21, 2000, when a 480i widescreen version of the film was issued on DVD in the United States. The DVD featured its original English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and English subtitles; but had no foreign language options for subtitles and audio.[citation needed] The same 5.1 English audio track was later included on 576i DVDs issued in European territories the following year.[citation needed] The UK, Danish and Finnish releases include a stereo version of the German dub and Finnish, Swedish, English, German, Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, and Turkish subtitles.[citation needed] Both the Italy and Spain editions include French, Italian, and Spanish stereo dubs; and have Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Italian, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, and Slovenian subtitles.[citation needed] The Swedish DVD, on the other hand, is the most limited in features, only including the English audio and Swedish subtitles.[citation needed] An American "Those Aren't Pillows!" DVD edition of Planes, Trains and Automobiles includes a mono Spanish dub and English, French, and Spanish subtitles.[citation needed] The same day, Wal-mart issued an exclusive version of the edition that included a digital copy of the film.[citation needed]

The film's first United States Blu-ray was released on September 25, 2011, as a Best Buy exclusive.[citation needed] Canada's first Blu-ray of the film, also issued on September 25, was a Future Shop exclusive of the "Those Aren't Pillows!" edition.[citation needed] The Blu-ray was released in the United Kingdom on September 26, 2011, Australia on July 31, 2013, and Germany on February 5, 2015.[citation needed]

On October 18, 2004, the UK DVD was issued as part of a Digipack Paramount Pictures' collection I Love 80s Movies: John Hughes Classic 80s, which also included Pretty in Pink (1986), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), and Some Kind of Wonderful (1987).[citation needed]

In October 2022, Paramount announced a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The release includes 75 minutes of deleted and extended footage, much of which was thought to be lost but was rediscovered and cleaned up from the John Hughes archive. It was released in the U.S. on November 22, 2022.[27][28]


Although uncredited, the movie was adapted in Tamil as Anbe Sivam by Sundar C in 2003. In August 2020, a remake was reported in development, with Will Smith and Kevin Hart as the leads, and later Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.[29][30]


  1. ^ "Planes, Trains and Automobiles (15)". British Board of Film Classification. December 7, 1987. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Dan Zinski (August 17, 2020). "Will Smith & Kevin Hart Starring In Planes, Trains & Automobiles Remake". Screen Rant. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  3. ^ "Planes, Trains and Automobiles Is Being Celebrated as the Ultimate Thanksgiving Movie of 2020". MovieWeb. November 26, 2020. Retrieved November 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "Giving Thanks for Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Morrill Memorial Library. December 1, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  5. ^ "Thanksgiving movie 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' filmed in NY: Behind the scenes".
  6. ^ a b c Hullfish, Steve (April 13, 2019). "ART OF THE CUT with Oscar winner, Paul Hirsch, ACE". Pro Video Coalition. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Greenwood, Marcia (November 22, 2017). "Planes, Trains and Automobiles filmed in Batavia: Behind the scenes". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  8. ^ "5 Movies With Locations in St. Louis". FOX2now.com. July 17, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  9. ^ Gordon, William A. (1995). Shot on This Site: A Traveler's Guide to the Places and Locations Used to Film Famous Movies and TV Shows. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806516479.
  10. ^ "'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' motel in Braidwood site of prostitution bust, drug overdoses". WGN TV. March 29, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  11. ^ Paul Young on Twitter
  12. ^ iTunes Store Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  13. ^ "Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Los Angeles, California: Fandango Media. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "UK Weekend Box Office 12th February 1988 - 14th February 1988". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved November 10, 2019.
  15. ^ Mathews, Jack (December 15, 1987). "'PTA' Transports John Hughes Beyond His Teen Comedy Image". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
  16. ^ Carr, Jay (November 25, 1987). "'PLANES, TRAINS' NEVER GETS OFF THE GROUND". Boston Globe. p. 34.
  17. ^ Boyar, Jay (November 27, 1987). "PLANES, TRAINS' A PERFECTLY GOOFY COMEDY VEHICLE". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. p. D1.
  18. ^ Janusonis, Michael (November 27, 1987). "Flights of comedy, down-to-earth characters Martin and Candy are on a roll in 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'". Providence Journal. Providence, Rhode Island. p. D-04.
  19. ^ Schickel, Richard (November 30, 1987). "Worst-Case Scenario: Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Time. New York City. Archived from the original on September 5, 2009.
  20. ^ Maslin, Janet (November 25, 1987). "Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 12, 2000). "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Chicago Sun-Times – via RogerEbert.com.
  22. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2006). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. New York City: Signet Books. p. 1009. ISBN 0-451-21265-7.
  23. ^ "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  24. ^ "Planes, Trains & Automobiles". Metacritic. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  25. ^ "PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) B+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  26. ^ Ulgen, Argun (November 14, 2017). "'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary at a Time We Need It Most". PopMatters. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  27. ^ "Planes Trains & Automobiles, Coraline, Silent Running, WarGames & LOTS more 4K Ultra HD news, plus Arrow, Imprint & Shout! Bow December BD slates!". Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  28. ^ "The Lost Version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles". YouTube. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  29. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 17, 2020). "'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' Gets Paramount Pictures Remake With Will Smith & Kevin Hart Starring; Westbook, Hartbeat Produce". Deadline. Retrieved November 22, 2021.
  30. ^ "Drew Barrymore wanted to reunite with Adam Sandler for 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' remake". Entertainment Weekly.

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