Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)

In director John Hughes' odd-couple road comedy buddy movie, about three days struggling to get home (from NYC to Chicago) during a busy Thanksgiving travel season - the entire movie was composed of the many scenes of uptight, easily-annoyed Chicago marketing ad executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) releasing vitriolic criticism and rage at his boorish and undesired traveling companion: buffoonish, shower curtain ring sales rep Del Griffith (John Candy):

  • their reunion at LaGuardia airport after Neal accused Del of stealing his cab earlier in the day on Park Avenue in NYC after he had paid the driver $75 dollars; Del asserted: "I know you, don't I? I'm usually very good with names, but I'll be damned if I haven't forgotten yours"; Del made repeated but failed attempts to appease Neal with offers of "a nice hot dog and a beer... just a hot dog then... some coffee... milk...soda... some tea...Life Savers... Slurpee?" - and then Del ended the conversation with his amused realization: "I knew I knew ya!"
  • during their ill-fated flight to Chicago (actually Wichita due to a weather-related flight diversion), Neal was forced to sit in coach next to Del, who claimed he wasn't an annoying talker: ("The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabber-mouth. Ya know, nothin' grinds my gears worse than some chowderhead who doesn't know when to keep his big trap shut"), but then kept yapping, and took off his smelly socks and shoes ("My dogs are barkin' today"); Del also looked over and offered an intuitive bet to Neal: "Six bucks and my right nut says we’re not landing in Chicago"
  • the circumstances meant they had to share a grungy, cramped Wichita hotel room and sleep in the same bed (they woke up cuddled and snuggling together) with Neal asking Del: ("Where's your other hand?"); Del answered: "Between two pillows" - Neal angrily told Del his "other hand" was not between two pillows: ("Those aren't pillows!"), and they both jumped out of bed freaked out at the thought
  • Neal Page's raging monologue about Del's annoying habit of spouting anecdotes: ("You're no saint. You got a free cab, you got a free room, and someone to listen to your boring stories. I mean, didn't you notice on the plane when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag? Didn't that give you some sort of clue, like maybe this guy is not enjoying it? You know everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting. You're a miracle! Your stories have none of that. They're not even amusing accidentally! 'Honey, I'd like you to meet Del Griffith, he's got some amusing anecodotes for ya. Oh and here's a gun so you can blow your brains out. You'll thank me for it.' I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days, I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They'd say: 'How can ya stand it?' I'd say, ''Cause I've been with Del Griffith. I can take anything.' You know what they'd say? They'd say, 'I know what you mean. The shower curtain ring guy. Whoa.' It's like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn't pull it out and snap it back - you would. Agh! Agh! Agh! Agh! And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener!")
  • and then, Del's speech about judging others: ("You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I'm not changing. I like - I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get")
Hitching a Ride in a Pick-Up Truck from Wichita, KS with Owen
  • the next morning, their meeting with Owen (Dylan Baker), Del's good friend Gus' tobacco-spitting, redneck son in a broken-down pick-up truck, to drive them to Wichita to catch a train, although they learned that there was no passenger train service there: ("Train don't run out of Wichita, 'lessen you're a hog or cattle. People train runs out of Stubbville"); they rode a train out of Stubbville that broke down in rural Missouri, and then suffered a bus ride to St. Louis together (Neal attempted a disastrous sing-along to "Three Coins in the Fountain" but no one knew the words)
  • the scene of Neal's fuming, extended, confrontational, ill-fated Marathon rental car sequence at the St. Louis airport terminal with an incompetent rental car clerk-agent (Edie McClurg), after he had found the rental car lot empty, and had to take a long perilous walk back to the terminal: ("You can start by wiping that f---king dumb-ass smile off your rosy f---king cheeks. Then you can give me a f--king automobile") - it was a one-minute scene of the exasperated Page spouting off the "F" word over a dozen times (and ending with the clerk's two-word retort about how he had thrown away his rental agreement: "You're f--ked!")
"Welcome to Marathon. May I help you...How may I help you?"
"You can start by wiping that f--king dumb-ass smile off your rosy f--king cheeks"
  • the two's perilous drive together on the freeway in Del's rented car (listening to Ray Charles' "Mess Around" on the radio), with Del driving in the wrong direction (although warned by another driver) and barely missing crashing into two 18 wheel tractor-trailers driving in their direction by scraping both sides of their car; Neal imagined Del as a devil figure in the driver's seat - and that they were going to die
  • and shortly later, Del's discarded cigarette set the car's interior on fire - and then he admitted he had used Neal's credit-card (that had been switched earlier, causing a delayed punchline) that was now back in the car (burning up in the glove compartment) - meaning that Neal was liable for the damage
  • the scene of the two driving in the burned-out hulk of the car the next morning, and being pulled over by a police officer for speeding at 78 mph - with a melted speedometer, and Del's lame excuse: "Our speedometer's melted and as a result, it's hard to say with any degree of accuracy exactly how fast we were going"; they were also cited for lacking an outside mirror or functioning gauges (although Del bragged that the radio still worked), and the car was impounded for being unsafe
  • after finally arriving in Chicago in the back of a refrigerator truck, the feel good ending - a reunion of Del and Neal back at an elevated train station, where Del was found sitting alone and admitted that he had no home to go to and that his wife Marie had been dead for 8 years; Neal invited him for Thanksgiving dinner and helped him carry his heavy trunk down the street to his home; Mrs. Susan Page (Laila Robins) greeted Del: "Welcome home, Mr. Griffith"

LaGuardia Airport Reunion

Cramped Flight to Chicago (actually Wichita)

"Those aren't pillows"

Neal: "Didn't you notice...?"

Del: "I'm an easy target"

Driving in the Wrong Direction

Burning Car

Pulled Over for Speeding With a Melted Speedometer


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