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Twelve Facts About Planes, Trains & Automobiles

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a classic comedy from John Hughes and is required viewing on this day at the Gunaxin office. While there are a few other movies which focus on Thanksgiving, nothing matches the hilarity of Steve Martin trying to make it home for the holiday while being stuck with John Candy at every step of the journey. It’s a comedy with heart, which is exactly what is called for during the holiday season, and can be watched every year.

In order to celebrate the brilliance of Planes, Trains & Automobiles, we’ve gathered some facts about the film from IMDB, which is an excellent source of Trivia for any movie that you can think of. We’ve paired them with some memorable screenshots in a tribute to the best Thanksgiving movie ever made :

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At the beginning of the movie when Steve Martin (Neal Page) races Kevin Bacon (Taxi racer), is a direct reference to the scene in the movie Quicksilver (1986) in which the character played by Bacon is racing someone on a bicycle.

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No transportation company wanted to appear inept or deficient in any way, so crews had to rent twenty miles of train track and refurbish old railroad cars, construct a set that looked like an airline terminal, design a rent-a-car company logo and uniforms, and rent 250 cars for the infamous Rent-a-Car sequence.

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The exterior of their aircraft in flight is a reuse of the 707 flying through the storm from the movie Airplane! (1980).

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John Hughes in an interview on the ‘Those Aren’t Pillows’ DVD edition was inspired to write the film’s story after an actual flight from New York to Chicago he was on was diverted to Wichita, thus taking him 5 days to get home.

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John Hughes shot over 600,000 feet of film, almost twice the industry average. The rumored three-hour version of the film does indeed exist, although not in order – moreover it’s a mess of footage that would take “months, maybe even years” according to Hughes to transform into an actual film. It is locked away in a Paramount vault, and according to Hughes, most of it has probably deteriorated by now.

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John Hughes wrote the first-draft of the screenplay in 3 days. His average writing time for a screenplay in those days was about 3-5 days with 20-some rewrites.

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The Marathon Car Rental scene is exactly one minute long from the time Steve Martin starts his tirade, to the time the attendant ends the scene. In that 60 seconds, the word “fucking” is used 18 times.

Let’s pause for a musical interlude…

…and back to the facts :

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Many of the highway scenes were actually filmed on a stretch of (at the time) unopened highway (US 219) that runs between Buffalo and Springville, NY. Cast and crew traveled from the Midwest to the East Coast and back in search of snow for many scenes, which seemed to melt whenever they arrived. The shoot was hellish, and according to some who worked on it, Hughes’ grumpy behavior (he was going through rough times) only made it worse.

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Steve Martin was convinced to join the production after favoring two scenes he had read from the script; the seat adjustment-scene in the car, and the F-word tirade at the car rental desk.

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The green convertible is a 1986 Chrysler LeBaron Town and Country, with a 2.2 Turbo engine, it was modified for the film, including the following Dodge 600 parts: tail lights, steering wheel, and owner’s manual (that can be seen in the glove compartment when Neal puts his wallet in there) the trunk was off of an older K-car convertible: no third brake light, and the luggage rack that was not offered in 1986 but was on older ones.

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Del Griffith’s large trunk/footlocker contains a pillow and a picture of his wife. Neal Page trips over the trunk twice during the movie.

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The house used as Neal’s family home is actually in Kenilworth on Warwick. The home used in “Home Alone” was on Lincoln Ave. in Winnetka, one town over.

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