POSTED October 21 2014

Trading Places, 30 years later

Eddie Murphy Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd at Independence Hall

Eddie Murphy Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd at
Independence Hall

An update of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, John Landis’ 1983 movie Trading Places might well be dubbed “The Preppie and the Panhandler.” The film is hailed by business writers as “the best Wall Street movie of all time,” by moviegoer polls as “the best Christmas movie of all time,” and by the late critic Roger Ebert as a throwback to the great comedies of Preston Sturges.

A feature film shot on location is an unintended documentary. In the 30 years since Trading Places was released, the city has grown vertically and horizontally.

Yet Trading Places’ importance is not merely in how it shows 2014 about how different the city was in 1983. It’s also in how it updates the quintessential Philadelphia narrative of how the plebeian and the patrician can find common ground and common cause.

Join historian George Thomas and me at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday, October 26 at 1 pm when we show Trading Places and talk both how the film shows how the city has changed since 1983 and how the movie advances the Philadelphia narrative. (PMA members get in free, non-members can come along with a member for $8).

And until then, how do you think the city has changed most since the movie was made?

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