Photo: Trading Places Paramount

Film Club: Trading Places (1983)

Whilst this movie staring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd is an outrageous and guilty pleasure comedy, Trading Places poses issues on socio-economics along with the class divide in 1980’s America…


We feel deeply that if you haven’t already seen this movie then it really is one to miss… *go watch it when no one else is looking*

The movie starts with a series of meticulous scenes that really set the whole theme of Trading Places and the social divide it presents. We see images of people pushing to get on a cramped bus, to nice cars driving through the streets. You see the rough alley markets that are messy and unkempt, to a butcher cutting a huge and expensive cut of meat. You see beautiful buildings, to ugly buildings with smashed windows. Do you see where we’re going with this. Trading Places is about two millionaire brothers, the Dukes, whose lives are so outlandish and so outrageous that they make a bet involving destroying a man’s life for their own enjoyment.

Dan Aykroyd plays Louis Winthorpe, a top commodities broker at the Duke brothers’ firm, and Eddie Murphy plays homeless street hustler Billy Ray Valentine. The Duke brothers bet is to see what would happen if you swapped the two characters' lives, hence the title.

Eventually, we find out the Duke brothers are no more morally corrupt as they are financially corrupt. The brothers have gained access to a confidential crop report and they intend to corner the Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice market. Of course, this didn’t happen, as this is a comedy and the good guys always win.

But what is most striking about this movie is its dated scenes that are like a car crash from which you cannot look away. The outrageously offensive stereotyping in nearly every single character goes from Aykroyd dressing up as a black Jamaican stoner to the Duke brothers refusing to hire a ‘negro’. And then there's that scene with the gorilla. Comedies really were different in the eighties weren't they?

Thankfully it is all masked by the comedic, ridiculous and loveable nature of Eddie Murphy, on top form during his silver screen heyday.

Best Part:

When Billy Ray Valentine is cleaned up and first shown his new mansion home, but he keeps putting the priceless decorations in his pockets. Valentine knew from the very beginning it was all too good to be true.

Worst Part:

The whole train scene… it's just unforgivable.

Memorable Quote:

‘He was wearing my Harvard tie. Can you believe it? My Harvard tie. Like oh, sure he went to Harvard.’Louis Winthorpe III

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