Trading Places

Trading Places Movie Poster

"They're not just getting rich...They're getting even.  Some very funny business."  Trading Places, a comedy released in 1983, was a modern twist on Mark Twain’s book The Prince and the Pauper.  The movie starred Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthorpe III, Jamie Lee Curtis as Opehlia, and Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray Valentine.  Trading Places was a hit with most critics back in 1983, and the movie ultimately was a great financial success.  It was the fourth highest grossing film of 1983, and the 58th highest grossing R rated film to date.

In this movie, two rich brothers, Randolph and Mortimer Duke, are having a friendly debate around the subject of nature versus nurture, when the two agree to a bet $1 to settle the matter.  They will have a rich person switch roles with a poor person, by manipulating their circumstances, and then study the outcome.  The rich person happens to be Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd), who has a plush job with the Duke Brothers, a plush house, and a plush life.  On Poor person, Billy-Ray Valentine (Murphy) is a homeless street hustler, just trying to find ways to eat.  The Duke Brothers have Louis fired from their firm after planting drugs on him, and they freeze his bank accounts.  He ends up taking refuge with a prostitute named Ophelia (Curtis), who befriends Louis in the hopes of some future reward for her philanthropy.  On the other hand, Billy Ray is not only given Louis’ job, but also his home, car, etc.  Billy Ray quickly turns from street hood to legitimate business man.

When Billy Ray learns about the $1 bet between the brothers, he seeks out Louis in an effort to mutually seek revenge.  They hatch a plan to trick the Duke Brothers into investing in orange juice concentrate futures.  Just before the true crop report is released, Louis and Billy Ray sell off all the futures they purchased in the scheme.  While they got rich, the Dukes got poor as they were unable to cover the margin loss.  In front of the Dukes, Billy Ray collects $1 from Louis, stating that the two had a bet around betting rich making the Dukes poor.