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

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

As Thanksgiving approaches, millions of people across the country are preparing to embark on the annual pilgrimage back home to celebrate with their loved ones. This time-honored tradition is not always smooth sailing, as depicted in the beloved 1987 comedy film, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Directed by John Hughes and starring Steve Martin and John Candy, the movie follows the misadventures of two strangers, Neal Page and Del Griffith, as they navigate various modes of transportation to make it back to their hometown of Chicago in time for Thanksgiving. Along the way, their journey takes them through St. Louis, where several memorable scenes unfold.

Selling Shower Curtains in the Gateway City

One of the first notable St. Louis scenes in the film takes place as Neal and Del arrive in the city. Short on money after a theft in Kansas, Del, a resourceful salesman, attempts to recoup some of his losses by selling shower curtain rings to fellow travelers. In a humorous twist, he even promotes them as earrings to some unsuspecting female customers. Although the scene is set in St. Louis, it was actually filmed elsewhere in Illinois.

A Meal and Heartfelt Conversations

In another pivotal scene, Neal and Del share a meal in St. Louis, during which they engage in a deep conversation about their family lives. Neal reveals his regret about missing his daughter’s recital, while Del confesses that he hasn’t been home in years and misses the “precious moments” with his wife Marie. The heartfelt exchange prompts Neal to suggest they part ways to expedite their travels, leading to some contentious discussions about who should foot the bill for their meal.

The Rental Car Fiasco

Desperate to continue their journey, Neal makes a phone call to his family and arranges for a rental car. However, upon arrival at the rental car lot, he discovers that the car he ordered is not available. Frustrated, Neal throws his paperwork in the air and trudges back to the airport terminal through the snow and cold. This scene was filmed with the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel in the background, adding to the authenticity of the St. Louis setting.

The Memorable Rant

Returning to the airport terminal, Neal’s frustration reaches a boiling point as he confronts a Marathon car rental service clerk. In a scene that likely contributed to the film’s R-rating, Neal unleashes a tirade of expletives, expressing his frustration with the rental car situation. The clerk, unhelpful and indifferent, only adds fuel to the fire. This memorable rant showcases Steve Martin’s comedic talent and perfectly captures the mounting tension of the characters’ journey.

A Scary Encounter and a Reunion

Running out of options, Neal leaves the Lambert Airport terminal and approaches a cab dispatcher, requesting a ride to Chicago. However, the dispatcher, unaware of Neal’s predicament, sarcastically suggests he try the airline for a faster journey and a free meal. This exchange escalates into a physical altercation, with the dispatcher punching Neal. As Neal falls to the ground, he narrowly avoids being hit by a car, driven by none other than Del Griffith. In a stroke of luck, Neal is reunited with his travel companion, setting the stage for their final leg of the journey.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles takes audiences on a wild and hilarious ride through St. Louis as Neal and Del navigate their way back home for Thanksgiving. From the shower curtain ring sales pitch to the memorable rant at the rental car counter, the film captures the essence of the city and its role in the characters’ misadventures. St. Louis serves as a backdrop for pivotal moments that not only add to the comedic charm of the film but also highlight the resilience and friendship that can emerge from unexpected circumstances. As Thanksgiving approaches, this classic movie continues to entertain and remind us of the importance of family, friendship, and the journey itself.


– IMDb. (n.d.). Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) – Filming & Production. Retrieved from
– Paramount+. (n.d.). Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Retrieved from
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– Vudu. (n.d.). Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Retrieved from






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