Trading Places – Don Ameche for the win
No, Don Ameche is not the right-hand bat the Dodgers seek, and no, this is not Dodger trade talk.
This is about one of my favorite all time movies, Trading Places. Why would I write about Trading Places now you ask? Because someone brought up Dick Van Dyke at TBLA and for some reason, my brain pivoted to “I’d have loved to see Dick Van Dyke play Mortimer Duke”. Not that I didn’t love Don Ameche. In fact, this movie relaunched the career of this 1940’s iconic movie star.
And he came in and was prepared to read for me. I was so shocked. I said ‘You don’t have to read for me.’
He hadn’t made a movie in 14 years, he’d been doing dinner theater.
While we were shooting later in Philadelphia — he was so wonderful — I said, ‘Don, may I ask a question? How come you haven’t worked in 14 years?’ And he said, ‘Well, nobody called!’
The great upshot of this is after Trading Places came out, the next movie he was in was ‘Cocoon,’ which he won an Oscar for. He never stopped working the rest of his life — he made like 10 more movies — I worked with him twice more.
One of the reasons I loved the film so much is that I love the world it worked in, even with all the sleaze and old money. I may have had to explain the movie to a dozen people who didn’t even know what a commodity was at that time.
The writing was great, the cast was brilliant, it helped push along the careers of many of its participants. Putting Dan back on the map after the death of Belushi, getting Jamie Lee Curtis out from under the Horror films so she could bedazzle us in “A Fish called Wanda” (also one of my favorite comedies), showing the range of Eddie Murphy, and getting Don Ameche back in front of audiences.