Build your own fucking trains, planes and automobiles

In memoriam, John Hughes. Quentin Tarantino once said he wanted the ultra-cheap Reservoir Dogs to look like a $3 million movie. And when he got $3 million to make Pulp Fiction, he wanted to make it look like a $10 million movie. My favorite John Hughes movie works the opposite way. Part of its charm is that it seems small-scale, intimate and focused. In fact, it was a Terminator-style blowout. A movie that looks like $3 million but actually…

At a cost of nearly $30 million, Planes, Trains and Automobiles was Tanen’s most expensive vote of confidence in Hughes. The deceptively simple story, about a businessman (Steve Martin) trying to make it from New York to his home in Chicago in time for Thanksgiving, became a logistical nightmare. For one thing, no transportation company would agree to cooperate with a movie that characterized it as inept or deficient in any way. So Hughes’s crews had to rent twenty miles of train track and refurbish old railroad cars, construct a set that looked like an airline terminal, design a rent-a-car company logo and uniforms, and then rent 250 cars.

On top of that, cast and crew traveled from the Midwest to the East Coast and back in perpetual search of snow, which perversely seemed to melt whenever they arrived. The shoot was hellish, and according to some who worked on it, Hughes only made it worse. He shot an enormous amount of film — about 600,000 feet, almost twice the industry average. It was understood that he could never be disturbed in his trailer, but since he was not only the writer and director but also the producer of the movie, he had to approve every aspect of filming. Although Hughes denies that he was inaccessible, members of his crew claimed they would wait outside his door with questions — what sort of wallpaper did he want for the foyer of Steve Martin’s home, which location they would be using the next day — hoping for answers lest they risk his wrath by guessing wrong.

via Via Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hughes.

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