Title: Trading Places
Director: John Landis
Writers: Timothy Harris and Herschel Weingrod
Stars: Dan Ackroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Paul Gleeson, Denholm Elliott, Senator Franken
The Story: Two wealthy brothers decide to reverse the fortunes of a preppie commodities broker and a homeless man, just to settle a bet about nature vs. nurture. After the bet is over, the targets of their manipulation team up to get revenge.
Why It’s Great: Anyone expecting a goofball farce will immediately have their expectations upset by the beautiful opening montage showing the different social strata of Philadelphia waking up in the morning. This was a movie that actually had a lot to say about rich and poor in America, at a time when the former were quietly declaring war on the latter. I’m glad to see somebody noticed. Puncturing the idea that traders are super-talented geniuses deserving of exorbitant salaries, Murphy is plucked off the streets but he quickly gets the hang of it. “Basically you guys are just a bunch of bookies!” But it’s sadly sweet that it takes both him and Ackroyd so long to realize that the firm is really just a criminal enterprise, even after everything that’s been done to them. Only when it’s almost too late do they finally put two and two together: bookies only make real money when the fix is in.
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