John Hughes's Planes, Trains and Automobiles One-Man Show: A Rare Look


By most accounts the late John Hughes was a challenging, imposing figure to deal with on a studio lot, but at least one professional acquaintance remembers things differently. You probably would, too, if your recollection of the single time you met Hughes involved the writer-director performing the entirety of perhaps his greatest film in one burst from beginning to end -- by himself.

Veteran publicist Reid Rosefelt today passes along the story of his one and only meeting with Hughes -- an interview in Hughes's "hip" headquarters on the Paramount lot, where the filmmaker was in pre-production on Planes, Trains & Automobiles. There, the pair would hit it off while Hughes's unidentified co-producer looked on in distaste. It might have been the way Rosefelt looked, he admits. It could have been a generally sour mood. Even likelier, it might have been Hughes's compulsion to act out PT&A from front to back in lieu of sharing a script:

Hughes started telling me the story of Planes, Trains & Automobiles. But he did much more than just describe the plot -- he performed it for me. It was funny and moving, just the way the movie would be. At the time I was thinking that he really must have connected with me to tell this story that was a Woody Allen-style secret. Looking back I realize he was doing something a similar to a pitch. But pitches are for high-powered studio execs, not for lowly Unit Publicists. The Unit Publicist usually ends up on the credits somewhere between Craft Service and the guy who drives the Honey Wagon (toilet truck). But talking through stories was a normal aspect of L.A. life, and for some reason, he felt like telling his story to me. It was wonderful, but as he went on, I kept thinking. "There is no possible way he is going to take this all the way to the end...." But he did. He performed the whole damned movie just for me.

Rosefelt didn't get the job, but the memories -- presumably something along the lines of, "(John Hughes low voice:) 'Where are your hands?' (High voice:) 'Between two pillows.' (Low voice:) 'Those aren't pillows!'" followed by an arm-flapping dance of revulsion from one side of the room to the other -- surely are like a paycheck of their own.

· My Job Interview With John Hughes [SpeedCine]


  • Larry Ludwig says:

    I too only met John Hughs one time...On the set of Trains planes and automobiles, when he allowed me (working as an extra) to adlib my way thru a scene with actor John Candy. After 3 minutes of non-rehearsed banter, I heard "Cut, Give that man a contract!"...Truly an unusual and inspiring human being...
    Thank You John Hughes,
    Sorry I didn't get to say that in person, but I never saw him again.
    Happy traveling John,

  • snickers says:

    Who were you and where in the movie can we find your performance? Is it a "These pretzels are making me thirsty!"-type moment?

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