Great Scenes… Planes, Trains and Automobiles

planestrainsborderOn paper, it’s just two guys meeting someone and putting their case on the back of a truck. On screen it is pure comedy gold. John Candy, Steve Martin and Dylan Baker – I salute you…

Planes, Trains and Automobiles isn’t my favourite John Hughes film. It isn’t my favourite John Candy film. Surprise, surprise, it isn’t my favourite Steve Martin film either. But then Close Encounters Of The Third Kind isn’t my favourite Steven Spielberg film, and that doesn’t stop it being a masterpiece.

Planes… is a lesson in comedy. On the surface it appears to be a simple road movie with lots of laughs, yet you can’t reach its dizzy heights without great writing and great performances. This is one of Candy’s great roles – there is a real sadness behind Del Griffith, the shower curtain salesman who means well but can’t help driving you crazy. In this scene, however, he takes a back seat and lets Dylan Baker and Martin do all the work. Baker, best known these days for portraying Dr Curt Connors in the Spider-Man movies, is brilliant as Owen, the hick to end all hicks. ‘She’s short and skinny, but she’s strong’ remains one of the all-time classic comedy quotes.

But the scene is really memorable because of Martin’s face: his reaction (shared by the audience) to the disgusting example of humanity that is Owen is fantastic. This is a piece of great underrated comedic acting. In his heyday, Martin switched between the straight man and the wacky funny guy with ease. Here, the slightest movements of his features make a great scene even greater.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SCENE FROM PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES?

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Great Scenes: Midnight Run

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26 Responses to “Great Scenes… Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

  1. Must be the only person who thinks this film is well, meh.

    Too saccharine, especially the Steve Martin character. Bet his family was praying he didn’t make it back

  2. Great post. John Candy is sorely missed. As are decent Steve Martin movies…

  3. Agree that Candy does the melancholy side of his character very well.

    Best moment in this film?

    “Where’s your other hand?” …

  4. Pity he and Candy both fell to such miserable lows later in life.
    Uncle Buck rhymes with my opinion of Candy as a funnyman.

    This film was a cracker, though. That scene with the polka band in the van – my private hell.

  5. Markham, cannot believe you didnt enjoying visiting your Uncle Buck – I reckon its Candy’s finest hour, although Im also partial to visiting the Great Outdoors. you can take me to the Candy shop any time…

  6. I’m sure you could make a five minute montage of quality Steve Martin faces from this film. Candy = sweet…

  7. The best scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles has to be when Steve Martin is at the Rental Car counter and he says “*ucking”(sorry focking) like every other word. Then the lady says it back to him. Priceless.

  8. William Says:

    Favorite scene… John Candy holding his glove at the very end of the movie while meeting the family.

  9. If Owen’s wife’s first baby came out sideways, would you say that she gave wide birth?

  10. George Schmidt Says:

    One of my favorite films of all time; Candy is sorely missed & Martin has never been better here mixing comedy and drama; hard-pressed but The Candy-man’s “I like me speech..” (SPOILER) for the payoff at the film’s bittersweet discovery of Del’s dilemma; get choked up just thinking of it

  11. dbag5891 Says:

    Great post – really enjoyed your blog as well

  12. I didn’t remember Dylan Baker in this movie but he his hilarious. It was how I discovered Candy as a kid and it will always be a special movie for me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rR0_-EKlAEA

  13. markham,
    you are wrong on two accounts. first john candy is hilarious. space balls, stripes, planes trains and automobiles, blues brothers. How many classics does one actor need?
    As for the scene with the polka band, that was from Home Alone. someone as misinformed as you doesnt deserve to comment.

  14. Best John Candy movie of all time. I was thinking maybe Uncle Buck but Del Griffith’s mustache and mini afro is just funny to watch. If one doesn’t like this movie then that one doesn’t know comedy. Boom. Period.

  15. low rider taxi Says:

    the scene where they wake up spooned to each other is classic!

    THOSE AREN’T PILLOWS!!!!

  16. The best scene hands down has to be when Martin has enough of Candy and they have a confrontation in their hotel room. We laugh when Neil Page tears into Del, feeling a bit of the annoyance he feels. Then suddenly the tone shifts and Del’s monologue makes us empathize with him and by the same token makes us feel bad for laughing at him just before. It’s one of those precious dramatic moments Candy (and Martin) have, PT&A has to be one of the best films to balance comedy with drama.

  17. a wily filipino Says:

    The devil driving scene! I relive that moment everytime I’m riding shotgun with someone I’d rather not be riding shotgun with.

    Salut, Steve Martin!

    RIP, John Candy… =(

  18. I think it was ludicrous that the AFI didn’t list Planes, Trains… at all on their stupid List of 100 Greatest Comedy Films. On my Greatest Comedy lists it would be No. 1 with Bringing Up Baby at No. 2. As for John Candy, he was a comedy genius right up there with Stan Laurel, Bob Hope (in his heyday), Chaplin and the rest. Actually I’m not a Chaplin fan but I recognize his place in film history. When John Candy died, my brother called to tell me. We were devastated. It was as if we’d lost a great friend. The only good thing that came of his death is to learn that we were not alone in our admiration for tha

  19. [I inadverently subimitted my post too soon] As I was saying, we learned that we were not alone in our admiration for that lovable comic genius. We heard nothing but praise for him from friends and others who, unknown to us, liked the guy just as much as we did!

  20. LOVE this movie. One of the best comedy/dramas. The characters are so real. You have the uptight, cynical businessman and the outgoing, caring free spirit. I like how near the end Steve Martin says he is a lot wiser because of his experiences the last couple days. Situations like this could make us all realize what’s important when we get caught up in the daily routine of life. There are so many good scenes like in the diner when Martin thinks Candy stole his money. Candy says “What?” when Martin gives him a suspicous look and Martin replies “You know god damn well what.” And Candy responds “No I’m sorry, I don’t.” lol The delivery is perfect.

  21. This is my all time favorite Thanksgiving Day film. There are so many great moments. But, the ending just nails it home. The ending song is just perfect. You see that both characters have grown from the experience. You could never make a sequel to it, but I always wondered how long did Del stay there at the house?

  22. Jeez, Conor, you’re right. Don’t know how I mixed up two of John Candy’s performances. The man was such a versatile thespian, constantly surprising the audience with his range, that it’s a complete mystery how two of his bloated, pity-laugh-trawling silver screen embarrassments could possibly have morphed into one in my mind.

    Why he didn’t get an oscar in the ‘Best morbidly obese biped who’ll work for twinkies’ category is another of those great unsolved quandaries that will echo through the ages.

    I’ll just go and kill myself so that I don’t bother you any more.

  23. Steve Martin dropping F-bombs at the flight attendant – best scene.

  24. A timeless classic. Great scenes too numerous to mention. But my favorite has to be the end when John Candy comes to Steve’s (when they cut from the train station to the both of them carrying Johns chest – and Steve is actually smiling now). Very uplifting and powerful. I cry whenever I see it, so touching. JG

  25. Cracking scene, great film. I certainly don’t agree with the commentator that thinks Steve Martin was too sentimental in this film. I only have to reference the hundred f-words used in his rant against the car rental girl. Touching and funny, Martin and Candy are superb together. We’ve just compiled our top 10 Steve Martin films here: http://www.top10films.co.uk/archives/146

  26. […] memoir: “Born Standing Up” Bio at FilmBug Steve Martin: A Wild and Crazy Guy Best Movie Scenes: Planes, Trains and Automobiles Steve Martin Broke Into Movies at Disneyland Thanks to Oldest Living Fan Film Filmmaker November […]

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