Planes, Trains and Automobiles: A Journey Through St. Louis

Exploring the Memorable St. Louis Scenes in the Classic Thanksgiving Film

As Thanksgiving approaches, millions of people embark on a journey to reunite with their loved ones. This annual pilgrimage can be filled with unexpected twists and turns, much like the iconic 1987 comedy film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” Directed by John Hughes, the movie follows two unlikely companions, Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy), as they navigate their way from New York to Chicago, facing a series of misadventures and setbacks along the way. St. Louis plays a significant role in their journey, providing the backdrop for several memorable scenes. Let’s take a closer look at these pivotal moments that unfold in the Gateway City.

Selling Shower Curtains

Upon their arrival in St. Louis, Neal and Del find themselves short on cash due to an unfortunate theft in Kansas. In a desperate attempt to recoup their losses, Del, a salesman, tries to sell shower curtain rings to fellow travelers, even marketing them as earrings to some female customers. Although the scene is set in St. Louis, it was actually filmed elsewhere in Illinois, adding to the movie’s charm and authenticity.

Grabbing a Meal

During their time in St. Louis, Neal and Del share a poignant conversation about their family lives over a meal. Neal opens up about missing his daughter’s recital, while Del reveals the heart-wrenching truth that he hasn’t been home in years, missing precious moments with his wife, Marie. This heartfelt exchange prompts Neal to suggest parting ways to expedite their journey, leading to a tense discussion about who should foot the bill.

Rental Car Search

In a moment of frustration, Neal makes a phone call to his family to arrange a rental car service. However, upon arrival at the rental car lot, he discovers that the car he reserved is nowhere to be found. Frustrated and disheartened, Neal throws his paperwork in the air and trudges back to the airport terminal through the snow and cold. This scene was filmed against the backdrop of the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel, adding a touch of local flavor to the film.

Memorable Rant

Back at the airport terminal, Neal’s anger boils over as he confronts a Marathon car rental clerk who seems more interested in personal matters than assisting customers. In a scene that likely contributed to the film’s R-rating, Neal unleashes a torrent of expletives, exasperated by the lack of answers regarding his missing rental car. The clerk’s request for documentation only fuels Neal’s frustration, culminating in a final exchange that leaves both parties unsatisfied.

Scary Encounter

With limited options, Neal leaves the airport terminal and approaches a cab dispatcher, requesting a ride to Chicago. The dispatcher, unaware of Neal’s destination, sarcastically suggests taking a flight instead, prompting a heated exchange that ends with the dispatcher punching Neal. As Neal falls to the ground, narrowly avoiding being hit by a passing car, he is rescued by none other than Del Griffith, their paths crossing once again in an unexpected twist of fate.


“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” takes viewers on a wild and hilarious journey as Neal and Del navigate their way through various modes of transportation, including unforgettable moments in St. Louis. From selling shower curtains to a memorable rant and a scary encounter, the city serves as a backdrop for some of the film’s most memorable scenes. As we embark on our own Thanksgiving travels, let us remember that sometimes the most unexpected detours can lead to heartwarming reunions and cherished memories. So, whether you’re streaming the film or embarking on your own adventure, may your journey be filled with laughter, love, and a touch of St. Louis magic.






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