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Trading Places (1983)

R | | Comedy | 8 June 1983 (USA)
A snobbish investor and a wily street con artist find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Maurice Woods ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Richard D. Fisher Jr. ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Jim Gallagher ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Anthony DiSabatino ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Bonnie Behrend ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Sunnie Merrill ...
Duke & Duke Employee
James Newell ...
Duke & Duke Employee (as Jim Newell)
Mary St. John ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Bonnie Tremena ...
Duke & Duke Employee
David Schwartz ...
Duke & Duke Employee
Tom Degidon ...
Duke Domestic


Louis Winthorpe is a businessman who works for commodities brokerage firm of Duke and Duke owned by the brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke. Now they bicker over the most trivial of matters and what they are bickering about is whether it's a person's environment or heredity that determines how well they will do in life. When Winthorpe bumps into Billy Ray Valentine, a street hustler and assumes he is trying to rob him, he has him arrested. Upon seeing how different the two men are, the brothers decide to make a wager as to what would happen if Winthorpe loses his job, his home and is shunned by everyone he knows and if Valentine was given Winthorpe's job. So they proceed to have Winthorpe arrested and to be placed in a compromising position in front of his girlfriend. So all he has to rely on is the hooker who was hired to ruin him. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Some very funny business. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 June 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black or White  »

Box Office


$90,400,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


While she was making this picture, Jamie Lee Curtis stayed in Marlene Dietrich's apartment (12E) at 993 Park Avenue in Manhattan. She'd been engaged to Dietrich's grandson, production designer J. Michael Riva. See more »


After Valentine is challenged by the police officers and finally walks away, the camera cuts several times between him and them. The direction towards which he is walking, as shown by the houses in the background, switches back and forth a couple of times. See more »


[first lines]
Coleman: [holding a breakfast tray while Louis is still asleep] Your breakfast, sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Ron Taylor is credited as 'Big Black Guy' and James D. Turner as ' Even Bigger Black Guy' See more »


Referenced in Knocked Up (2007) See more »


by Nicholas Guest & Robert Curtis Brown
Performed by "The Hot Toddies"
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Hilarious... best movie either Ackroyd or Murphy have done.
3 May 2005 | by (Newark, DE) – See all my reviews

I skimmed over the comments to this movie and was heartened to see that so many people love it like I do. It just doesn't seem to be considered by the mainstream to be in the same league as, say, "Beverly Hills Cop" or "Coming to America" when talking about Eddie Murphy's movies, but the fact is that this is hands down his funniest part ever. And Dan Ackroyd is equally hilarious as the (at first) repulsively elitist Louis Winthorpe III. Add the stellar supporting cast, particularly Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy as the Dukes, Paul Gleason as the slimy Clarence Beeks, Jamie Lee Curtis as Ophelia, your standard hooker with a heart of gold (rarely done as well as here), and Denholm Elliott as Coleman the butler, and you hit a rich vein of comedy gold.

The plot is a classic farce situation. The Duke brothers, who clearly feel they are above everybody else, make a bet, for one dollar, over whether anybody regardless of breeding can, in the right environment, become an upper-crust gentleman. So as an experiment to see which one is right, they work circumstances so that the rich Louis Winthorpe III is turned into a miserly bum, while they have Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) take his place. He takes over Louis's job, his house, and his standing in the community. Realistic? Well, no, not really, but this is a farce, so it doesn't really have to be. It is, however, hilarious, which is exactly what a farce should be.

If there's a running theme in this movie, it is duplicity and mistaken identity. People are constantly being mistaken for something they are not, or forced into a situation where they become something they are not. We see this happen not only with the two main characters in the basic plot, but also with Billy Ray pretending to be a Vietnam veteran, then a karate master; Louis, who despite all appearances as a wimp, claims to have stood up to Billy Ray during their earliest encounter in the movie, when he actually hands Billy Ray his suitcase, setting him up for an arrest, when he was not actually trying to steal anything; Ophelia, who for a price pretends to know Louis outside the police station, further besmirching his name; all three plus Coleman, who each dresses up as a different hilarious ethnic character to trick Clarence Beeks; and Beeks, who in a subsequent scene is mistaken for an actual gorilla because he's wearing a costume (Al Franken and Tom Davis as the baggage handlers, marveling over how human the "gorilla" appears, are priceless).

Eventually, Billy Ray finds out what is going on, and gets together with Louis to turn the tables on the Dukes. Ophelia (who has fallen for Louis) and Coleman (who feels guilty and used over his part in the whole ruse) help them out. Do they get their revenge? Watch the movie and find out. It will be well worth your while. This is easily the funniest movie either Ackroyd or Murphy have ever done (its only real competition in this regard is "The Blues Brothers") and to think this was originally meant as a vehicle for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor is odd, because it's hard to imagine either of them in the parts done so well by Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy. John Landis keeps the pace going at a nice fast speed, and being a native Philadelphian, the locales and opening montage (including a scene of the Rocky statue) are a kick. But of course you'll love this movie even if you're not from Philly.

61 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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