Trading Places took place during Eddie Murphy’s solid run as the King of Comedy in the 1980’s. Murphy owned pretty much the entire decade, from probably saving Saturday Night Live as part of the second cast of the beginning of the decade through hit after hit after hit. It wasn’t until the 1990’s began that Murphy’s film’s began to bomb horribly (Vampire in Brooklyn, anyone?) until The Nutty Professor halted the carnage, but within five years he was back to making bombs, and has never come close to capturing the promise of his early career. Friday’s Mr. Church looked promising, but early reviews are dismal, so for classic Murphy, we’ll have to stick with gems like Trading Places.
The film is about two Wall Street tycoons (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) who make a $1 bet that one of them could pick literally anyone off the street (Murphy) replace their most successful trader (Aykroyd) and not suffer a loss. The results are hilarious as Murphy goes from a hustling homeless man to living the life of 80’s Wall Street excess, while Aykroyd’s life descends into utter chaos and ruin. The film culminates in one of the best endings of any comedy when the two team up after discovering the bet to bankrupt the men who manipulated them. I wish the quality on this clip was better, but it’s still gold. It’s also worth noting that Bellamy & Ameche’s characters have a brief cameo in Murphy’s Coming to America as now homeless people who get thrown a fortune by Murphy’s character. It’s a great inside joke and one of the best cameos of all-time.