4. What Do Mozart, Mark Twain And The Three Stooges All Have In Common?
All three are linked to "Trading Places," Mozart’s "The Marriage of Figaro" is about "a day of madness," in which the head-servant conspires to expose his scheming, skirt-chasing employer. Not-so-coincidentally, there are a few allusions to the 18th-century comic opera made in "Trading Places." During the film's opening sequence, "The Marriage of Figaro" overture plays while scanning the morning routines of Philadelphians, ending on Louis Winthorpe III (Aykroyd) being served breakfast in bed. On his way to work, Winthorpe whistles "Se vuol ballare" (the aria where Figaro declares "I’ll overturn all the machinery"), foreshadowing the film's ending where he and Valentine (Murphy) overturn the Duke brothers. How many people actually got that reference during the film’s initial release? Honestly, we'd like to go to a pub quiz with those select few who comprise the intersection of John Landis fans and opera enthusiasts.
Another probable source of inspiration, Mark Twain's short story "Million Pound Bank Note" is about two eccentric millionaire brothers who give a penniless pauper a one million pound note, betting on whether the un-cashable note is useless or if the possession of it enhances the man's life in some way. Two old geezers toying with the life of someone down-on-their-luck, sound familiar? More famously and just as applicable, Twain also wrote the classic American novel "The Prince and The Pauper," in which a prince and a pauper trade places. (See the connection?) When you get a chance, we recommend checking out the 1937 film version with Errol Flynn.Moving on from the definitive source of American wit to some "whoop, whoop, whoop"-ing slapstick, the "nature vs. nurture" debate is one employed in many Three Stooges shorts, though "Hoi Polloi" stands out in particular in its resemblance to "Trading Places." In the short, two professors wager $10,000 (that sure is some moolah for 1935) on whether they can turn the Stooges into gentlemen, specifically on whether environment or heredity win out (think "Pygmalion" without the romance, which is "My Fair Lady" without the songs). Though shelling out more dough than the Duke brothers' bet of one whole dollar, the old men make no headway with the Stooges. The film concludes with a party in which the society guests end up thwacking and slapping each other silly as the Stooges put on airs, saying, "this is our punishment for associating with the hoi polloi." Although John Landis has not directly quoted this as a source, to our knowledge (feel free to share in the comment section below), the use of the wager and role-reversal in "Trading Places" does bear a striking resemblance "Hoi Polloi" and Landis is a known Stooges fan.
5. Cameos Include Frank Oz, John Landis And Jamie Lee Curtis' Sister
Frank Oz's cameo as the police officer checking in Winthorpe's property after he gets arrested is doubly significant as Oz also had a cameo in "Blues Brothers" as a police officer checking Jake Blues (John Belushi) out and giving him back his property. Another fun reference, Winthorpe’s prison number 7474505B is the same as Jake Blues’ in "Blues Brothers." Speaking of in-jokes, Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche reprise their roles as the Duke brothers in "Coming to America." In that film, the brothers are homeless on the streets. Seeing them in their hobo state, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) throws the brothers a large wad of cash and Mortimer says to Randolph that it’s enough for a new start.