Thanksgiving Classic Planes Trains, and Automobiles Leads Fan to Demand: Release the John Hughes Cut

Filmmaker John Hughes made one of only a few truly great movies about Thanksgiving, the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles -- before before it became a perennial holiday hit, it was just a mid-budget comedy, and at that time, those didn't tend to run for several hours or cost a bunch of money. So Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, which apparently shot a whole second movie's worth of footage, was trimmed way back -- from about three and a half hours, to two hours -- by the time Hughes was done with the his first director's cut.

Then, the studio wanted the cut even shorter, coming closer to the 90 minutes standard for the kind of movie it was, at the time it was produced. Weighing in at 93 minutes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a lean and fast-movie film, but YouTube channel Hats Off wants Paramount Pictures to #ReleaseTheHughesCut.

You can see a video, which digs into the movie's history and some of the missing content, below.

Hughes seemingly routinely shot incredibly long cuts of his films, even though the kind of movies he made for most of his life weren't the kind likely to get an extra-long runtime. A famous 1997 interview with Premiere magazine saw the filmmaker mention an ultra-long cut of The Breakfast Club, which he reportedl had in his possession, but which has never seen the light of day, either before his death in 2009 or since.

At least in the case of The Breakfast Club, there is evidence to suggest that the only longer cut likely existed on VHS, and was loosely edited, making it incredibly difficult ot restore and unlikely to ever see release. We don't know quite as much about whether someone at Paramount somewhere has a longer cut of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles on film, just waiting to be remastered. This long after the film's release, it feels unlikely, but anything is certainly possible.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles centers on Neal Page (Steve Martin), whose trip home from a business trip is sidetracked and who finds himself thrown together on a cross-country odyssey with a stranger named Del Griffith (John Candy). The two fight, and bond, and ultimately find an unlikely understanding as the film plays out.


There are a huge number of Christmas movies, and even a handful of well-loved Halloween films that aren't slasher flicks, but Thanksgiving as a holiday is relatively underrepresented by good, crowd-pleasing movies, so Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has found a place in the American pop culture pantheon since its release. The movie is reportedly getting a remake with Will Smith and Kevin Hart in the lead roles.

Would you like to see John Hughes's original vision for Plaines, Trains, and Automobiles brought to life? Sound off in the comments.