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Thursday April 18th 2024

Planes, Trains & Automobiles | 1987

Planes, Trains & Automobiles filming location: Sun Motel, South Hickory Street, Braidwood, Illinois
Planes, Trains & Automobiles location: “They’re not pillows!”: Sun Motel, South Hickory Street, Braidwood, Illinois | Photograph: Jennifer66 / roadtripmemories.com

Exec Neal Page (Steve Martin), trying to make it home from New York to Chicago (yes, this is a John Hughes movie) for Thanksgiving, is lumbered with the world’s worst travelling companion in Del Griffith (John Candy).  Their paths first cross when (after having lost a race with Kevin Bacon), Del nabs Neal’s hard-fought-for cab on Park Avenue at 52nd Street, Manhattan.

When their plane is diverted to ‘Wichita, Kansas’, Neal and Del get an attack of homosexual panic sharing a room at the ‘Edelen’s Braidwood Inn’ (“They’re not pillows!”). This is odd, since Braidwood is on I-55, about 45 miles southwest of Chicago, Illinois. The motel became a Days Inn for a while, but is now the Sun Motel, 140 South Hickory Street, in Braidwood.

The town of ‘Stubbsville’, to which they’re driven by the manager’s strange son, Owen (Dylan Baker), is South Dayton, Buffalo, New York. They arrive on Pine Street, at Railroad Street, to catch the train at South Dayton Train Station.

The airport, where the exasperated Neal explodes with a spectacular F-clusterbomb is Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, Missouri, though many of the airline and car hire scenes had to be filmed on sets, as no company was willing to attach its name to such a catalogue of delays and incompetence.

After their hire car bursts into flames, the El Rancho Motel, 36355 North Highway 41, Gurnee, north of Chicago toward the Wisconsin border, is where Neal tries to book a room with his incinerated credit card.

Stopped for speeding in the burned-out car, the pair are picked up by the truck outside the old Woodstock courthouse – now the Old Courthouse Arts Center, 101 North Johnson Street in Woodstock, Illinois, which you might recognise as the town of ‘Punxsutawney’ from Groundhog Day.

Eventually making it to Chicago, Del finally opens up about his tragic life to Neal at the La Salle-Van Buren ‘el’ station.

He’s invited to the Page family house at 230 Oxford Road, facing Warwick Road, Kenilworth, between Wilmette and Winnetka, north of Chicago. This is a private home so, as ever, please don’t do anything to disturb the residents.