Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis, a randy gorilla and commodities trading. If ever there was a recipe for a Christmas comedy classic, 1983’s Trading Places is it.
Upper-crust executive Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) and down-and-out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) are the subjects of a bet by successful brokers Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy). An employee of the Dukes, Winthorpe is framed by the brothers for a crime he didn’t commit, with the siblings then installing the street-smart Valentine in his position. When Winthorpe and Valentine uncover the scheme, they set out to turn the tables on the Dukes.
This heart-warming, morally-satisfying satire of American excess and social standing from director John Landis was a smash-hit upon its release in 1983. It has also gone on to attain cult-like status in Christmas film circles – most notably for its unforgettable ‘down and out Santa’ scene, which has inspired many a gif in the internet age.