Trading Places 1983

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Paramount Pictures

While not generally thought of as a train movie, Trading Places uses an Amtrak journey along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) from Washington D.C. to New York City as a key plot device.

Even though most of the interior train shots appear to be sets, there are plenty of fast runbys, external views of sparkling new Buddbuilt Amfleet cars and a brief scene inside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. It’s NRPC in the 1980s. Check it out!

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In the opening credits, we get a brief glimpse of the Tropicana Orange Juice train on elevated right of way through Philadelphia. F.C.O.J. (frozen concentrated orange juice) would figure significantly in the film’s story.

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Amtrak first makes its appearance at the 87 minute mark of the picture. Here we see Clarence Beeks (played in his usual, bad-ass manner by Paul Gleason) walking beside an Amfleet Food Service Car.

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Beeks comes down the corridor and enters a six-passenger compartment. This is a movie set as Amtrak had no Amfleet cars in this configuration.

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Two baggage handlers tow a caged gorilla alongside the shiny new Amfleet train.

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The Stationmaster (played with wonderful, dripping disdain by Steven Stucker) presents the two baggage handlers, “with this bill of lading” (for the gorilla). Al Franken and Tom Davis play the baggage men.

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As the baggage cart pauses, Beeks does his best “monkey see, monkey do” for the gorilla.

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Eddie Murphy (posing as “an Exchange Student from Cameroon”) is the first to enter Beeks’ compartment. I absolutely LOVE that horse-hair fly whisk. I want one!

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Next up is Denholm Elliot as the whiskey-swilling parson; It is “Beef Jerky Time” and Eddie offers him some. The parson must refuse it as, “it gives me the winds something fierce”.

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Amtrak E60 electric #974 begins pulling the train out of the station. This was a dual cab, dual pantograph General Electric locomotive intended to replace the old Pennsy GG-1’s on the NEC.

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As the train pulls out, we get a good look at the consist – Amcoaches, Amcafe and what appears to an Amfleet baggage car with no windows (or external baggage doors for that matter) bringing up the markers.

That’s Harvey the costumed Gorilla (played by Jim Belushi) hanging out of the vestibule. The sign on the Food Service Car (Amcafe) reads, “Baltimore Delta Club – Annual New Year’s Eve Costume Party”

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Oh, we’re not done with strange travelers for Beeks’ compartment. Here comes “Inga from Sweden” (Jamie Lee Curtis); “Please to help me with my rucksack.”

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The handlers leave the baggage car – one of the packages in the background reads, “Linda Conaway, 15 Lyrical Lane, Sandy Hook, NJ.” There’s actually such an address in Connecticut, not New Jersey (per Google Maps). Also, the handler opens the end door by pressing — on a non-existent push-to-open switch. Ah, Hollywood.

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Last to enter the compartment is “Lionel Joseph from the African Education Conference” (Dan Ackroyd); Nah-boo-ya, Nah-boo-ya, Nah-boo-ya, HA!!!

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The two baggage handlers have made it to the costume party in the Amcafe; As our train roars up the NEC — suddenly the locomotive is an Amtrak AEM-7 #906 (built by EMD).

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Beeks figures out who our merry band of misfits are and herds them up to the baggage car; Dan Ackroyd/Lionel Joseph pushes on an actual push-to-open switch.

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Long story short, Eddie, Dan and crew get the drop on Beeks, put him in a monkey suit and stick him in with the gorilla; Senator Al Franken demonstrates why he is eminently qualified for that high office. Minnesotans must be very proud.

Enough monkeyshines. The final train scene in Trading Places is a journey from Philadelphia to New York.

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Overall view of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station; Denholm, Eddie, Dan & Jamie Lee walk the concourse with depot track gates in the background.

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As Eddie and Dan make their way down to Track 9, you can see a Horn & Hardart Retail Store behind them (this was a chain of self-service automats in Philadelphia and New York).

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In our final train shot we see Amtrak AEM-7 #936 overtaking a local commuter train as it races up the Northeast Corridor.

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Trading Places:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086465/

If you have ANY information about this movie, please contact me at:
Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com.

THE END

 

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About Lindsay Korst

Webmaster, Blogmaster, Ferroequinologist - Lindsay Korst works part-time for a nationwide home improvement center after a 20+ year career supporting computer users. A resident of the Seattle area since 1976, he has had a life-long interest in railroads, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. He is an enthusiastic participant in the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. He and his wife reside in Redmond, Washington.
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