New Documentary Explores What Was Cut From “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

A deep dive into lost subplots and deleted scenes

"Lost version" image
What was in the lost longer cut of John Hughes's classic comedy? A lot, it turns out.
Hats Off Entertainment

John Hughes’s film Planes, Trains and Automobiles has, over the years, earned a reputation as a classic American comedy. Besides that, it’s one of the most memorable films to be set around Thanksgiving, and it features all-time great performances by Steve Martin and John Candy.

“The movies that last, the ones we return to, don’t always have lofty themes or Byzantine complexities,” Roger Ebert wrote about the film in 2000. “Sometimes they last because they are arrows straight to the heart.” But this particular arrow was, according to some reports, much longer; rumors of a cut of Hughes’s film with a much longer running time have abounded over the years.

A new short documentary from Hats Off Entertainment explores the history of this longer cut, drawing on deleted scenes, trailers, different versions of the screenplay and an interview with Michael McKean. The end result details a very different version of a film that’s become a holiday tradition for many.

“In my mind, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a perfect film,” says director Joe Ramoni in narration near the end of the documentary. But Ramoni’s efforts also show the way subplots from the longer cut remain alluded to despite being cut for the theatrical version — including an explanation of the hotel room burglary scene and some context for the theatrical cut’s final exchange of dialogue.

Ramoni notes that his hope is for a restored version of one of Hughes’s earlier cuts to be released. Has the era of #ReleasetheHughesCut begun? It just might.

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