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Trading Places: The Timeless Comedy Classic with Relevance Today

The Unlikely Pairing of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in ‘Trading Places’


In the 1983 comedy classic, ‘Trading Places’, audiences were treated to an unlikely pairing of two comedic powerhouses – Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. The movie follows the story of a wealthy executive, Louis Winthorpe III (played by Aykroyd), and a street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (played by Murphy), who find themselves switching lives in an elaborate social experiment. The movie was a critical and commercial success, and it showcased the immense talents of both its leading men.

The Plot

‘Trading Places’ is a cleverly written movie that intertwines comedy with social commentary. The movie starts with Louis Winthorpe III, a wealthy and successful executive at a commodities brokerage firm, who seems to have it all – a beautiful fiancee, a luxurious lifestyle, and a promising future. Meanwhile, Billy Ray Valentine is a street hustler who spends his days conning people out of their money.

Their lives intersect when they caught the eye of the Duke brothers, Randolph and Mortimer, two wealthy businessmen who make a bet about whether they could take Winthorpe’s privileged lifestyle away and replace it with Valentine’s down-and-out existence. The Duke brothers arrange for Winthorpe to be framed for a crime he didn’t commit, leading him to lose his job, his home, and his fiancee. Meanwhile, Valentine is given Winthorpe’s job, his penthouse, and all the perks that come with it.

The rest of the movie is a rollicking comedy of contrasts as the two lead characters navigate their way through each other’s worlds. Murphy’s portrayal of a streetwise hustler trying to navigate through high society is priceless, as is Aykroyd’s bumbling attempts at survival on the streets. Eventually, the two hatch a plan to expose the Duke brothers’ scheme and regain their rightful places in the world.

The Making of ‘Trading Places’

The story behind ‘Trading Places’ is almost as fascinating as the movie itself. The movie was directed by John Landis, who had previously worked with both Aykroyd and Murphy on other projects. Landis was intrigued by the question of whether a person’s station in life was determined by nature or nurture. He approached the story with a sly wit that reflected the best traditions of 1930s screwball comedies.

The movie was shot on location in Philadelphia in 1982 and featured a plethora of landmarks and standout locations, including the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, Rittenhouse Square Park, and the Fifth Bank of the United States building. The movie’s famous New Year’s Eve party scene was shot at the iconic Duke Ellington Ballroom.

The movie’s supporting cast is a who’s who of comedy legends, including Jamie Lee Curtis, who played a prostitute hired to seduce Aykroyd’s character, and Denholm Elliott, who played Coleman, Winthorpe’s butler.

The Relevance of ‘Trading Places’ Today

While ‘Trading Places’ is a comedy first, it also offers a poignant commentary on social inequality. The movie tackles issues such as racism, classism, and the extent to which one’s social status dictates their value in society.

Today, more than 30 years later, ‘Trading Places’ remains a relevant movie with a message that still resonates. In an age where income inequality and social division have become hot-button topics, the movie’s message is as important as ever. Moreover, the movie’s humor and insight provide a relevant context for engaging younger audiences with important social issues.


‘Trading Places’ is a true comedy classic, an unforgettable movie that has stood the test of time. It showcases the immense talents of two of the biggest stars in comedy history and provides both belly laughs and social commentary. Whether you’re a fan of comedies, social dramas, or just great movies in general, ‘Trading Places’ is a must-watch. So grab a bag of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show!