Trading Places 35th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review
In 1983, there was no bigger star on the planet than Eddie Murphy. Having broken out (and, to be honest) saved “Saturday Night Live,” his first film, 48 HOURS, which co-starred Nick Nolte solidified him as a major player in Hollywood. How popular was he? When Nick Nolte fell ill the night he was supposed to host “Saturday Night Live,” Murphy filled in for him – while he was still a cast member! Murphy was so popular that, when the film BEST DEFENSE came out in the summer of 1984, fans stampeded to the theatre opening week, only to leave disappointed because, though he was listed on the poster next to Dudley Moore, he really has only a small, cameo-like appearance, one that was actually shot after the film tested poorly. To be a little more honest in their advertising, Paramount altered their ads and posters to reflect Murphy as a “Strategic Guest Star.” Of course, later that year he would star in BEVERLY HILLS COP and never look back. But I digress. Let’s talk about his second film, TRADING PLACES.
TRADING PLACES introduces us to two very different characters. Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd, in one of his first films after the death of his constant pal and co-star, John Belushi) is upper-class all the way, with his nose so far up in the air he can smell his head. Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) is a street hustler with a larcenous streak a mile long. When two very old, yet distinguished gentlemen, Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) Duke get into a discussion whether environment makes the man, they make a wager to see if it is true. In a matter of moments, Louis is banned from high society while Billy Ray is taken under the Dukes’ wings. How it turns out is anyone’s guess.
TRADING PLACES is a film that caught its talent, both in front of and behind the camera, at their peak. Both Murphy and Aykroyd were just starting their movie careers and both were committed to creating funny, but real characters. Jamie Lee Curtis was graduating from “scream queen” beauty while Ameche and Bellamy brought a touch of old Hollywood to the mix. Director Landis was riding high with a string of hit films like ANIMAL HOUSE, THE BLUES BROTHERS and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. All of these talented people, put together with a funny script and a fine supporting cast, make this film one of the funniest of the 1980s.
As both Louis and Billy Ray begin their new lives, they discover that their new situations have been set up and plot how to take the Duke boys down. Supporting actors like Denholm Elliott, Paul Gleason, Frank Oz and a very young Jim Belushi. On a sad historical Hollywood note, this was Landis’ first film after the death of actor Vic Morrow and two small children on the set of TWILIGHT ZONE – THE MOVIE, a tragedy that almost derailed the director’s career.
If you’ve never seen TRADING PLACES, I promise you it’s a “must see.” If you have, then it’s a “must see” again!
Video: The film is presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio and the transfer is outstanding. It’s hard to believe this film is 35 years old based on the quality. The darks are muted, the colors are bright and the lighting is subtle throughout the film.
Audio: The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and sounds good. The dialogue is loud and clear and the numerous “loud” scenes – outdoors, on the floor of the stock exchange, are well mixed with nothing lost.
The extras here have been carried over from previous releases.
Insider Trading: The Making of “Trading Places” (18:28): A nice featurette featuring interviews with cast and crew.
Trading Stories (8:00): Interviews taken from a UK. press junket.
The Deleted Scene (3:59): A small, unimportant scene that I’ve actually seen when watching this film on broadcast television.
Dressing the Part (6:31): A conversation with Costume Designer Deborah Nadoolman, also known as Mrs. John Landis.
The “Trade” in “Trading Places” (5:25): A conversation with commodities brokers talk about their job and explain the confusing to some end of the film.
Industry Promotional Piece (4:19): A short made for the industry convention ShoWest, with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in top form.
Trivia Pop-Ups: Like VH1’s “Pop Up Videos,” this feature allows viewers to click on small dollar bills that appear on screen to gain some trivia knowledge.