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It’s hard to believe, but the year is already coming to an end! With The Frida closing the last week of December to give our staff and volunteers time to spend the holidays with their families, we’re making sure that our 2023 programming goes out with a bang. Celebrate anniversaries of Scarface, Elf, and The Room next week, with Greg Sestero (Mark himself!) coming out to provide live commentary for the latter. Then join us the following week for The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and a one night-only presentation of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women by Arvida Book Co. That’s a lot of excitement to take in, so we recommend easing yourself into it with Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes 1987 road comedy.
Comedy titans John Candy and Steve Martin star as Del and Neal, polar opposites who are both headed to Chicago during a busy holiday travel season. All that Neal wants is to be home spending Thanksgiving with his family, but standing in his way are bad weather, and the well-meaning (but annoying) blabbermouth Del, a shower-curtain ring salesman who becomes Neal’s travel companion, and the cause of many of the mishaps that befall this odd couple. Noted for its unexpectedly tender moments as well as its departure from the teen comedies Hughes was known for, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is both a hilariously heartfelt high note for the director and an enduring holiday favorite.
Though it’s always appropriate for the holiday season, we’re playing this film because it was chosen by John Marsaglia, one of our two December Volunteers of the Month, as his VOTM pick. Although John started volunteering at The Frida relatively recently, I’ve already become very well acquainted with him due to him not only picking up a lot of shifts behind the counter but also helping out on the writing team. As funny as he is helpful, John’s an all around cool guy and so when it came time to interview him, it felt like just another friendly conversation between us. It was an informative talk as well, with him even revealing that he has a special connection to the movie. I’m not going to spoil it, so be sure to read our full interview below and check out Planes, Trains, and Automobiles when it hits the Frida screen next week!
How did you find out about The Frida Cinema?
So I’m originally from Chicagoland area – I say about 60 miles southwest – and I packed up the car and drove out here for graduate school in 2015 for my masters at Chapman. Obviously, being in film school, I was always looking for places that were programming quality content, good movies, and The Frida was right down the road, so I became a regular customer.
What made you want to volunteer here?
I’ve been thinking about volunteering for a couple years to be honest, but my schedule was always fluctuating and I kind of found a period of time after the pandemic where I found that my Mondays were pretty open and I saw a post that they needed Monday help, so here I am.
Tell us a little bit about Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
So Planes, Trains and Automobiles, not only is it a comedy and holiday-themed, it is also a movie from John Hughes, who is a Chicagoland filmmaker. Obviously, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s, all those types of movies there, but what made this one kind of special was two reasons.
First, it’s one of his movies that strays away from the high school type of movie here. It’s an R-rated comedy so it’s a little bit of a mature offering compared to the others (not that the others aren’t R-rated.) The other reason is I have a personal connection to it as well. Part of it was shot in my hometown: in fact, one of our great family friends, they used their farm there and our good friend Bob kind of drove some of the crew around on his combine there to do a location scout. They also shot outside the Braidwood Inn which no longer exists, I think it changed names a few times there, but it’s right off the highway there and we pass it all the time. And on top of it, it’s funny and well-made.
What were your other choices for Volunteer Pick of the Month?
My first choice was Boyz n the Hood from 1991 – a great year, if I do say so myself – by John Singleton. I also had an American Werewolf in London from John Landis. I also had Black Christmas, the 1974 one, but we’re already playing that one, so then I put Planes, Trains and Automobiles, and I know that sometimes we stray away from comedy here at The Frida, so I thought that might be a nice comedic change of pace.
What is your favorite Frida memory?
Ohhhh, my favorite Frida memory…
You know, one that sticks out to me was seeing Titane here just because I had no idea it was a French film. I had no idea what I was really walking into and I knew that it was going to be kind of gory and have some shock value to it there, but I didn’t know what kind of shock value and I didn’t realize I’d be sitting down for such a tender movie. So it kind of blew my expectations out of the water, which I think is kind of the great thing about the Frida here, there’s something for everybody always.
If you could program any movie here, what would you pick?
Ohhhhh, if I could program any movie…
I mean, my favorite movie of all time is Scream but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. You know, I did the whole film school route here, I’m a big fan of French cinema and I know we’ve done it in the past year, but Breathless by Jean-Luc Godard. It’s one of my all time favorites as well as Do the Right Thing but we just played that and of course I came to see it. I like to think I have a varied taste and there aren’t many movies that I say I don’t like.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles screens starting Monday, December 11th.
Monday, Dec 11 – 5:45pm
Tuesday, Dec 12 – 5:45pm
Wednesday, Dec 13 – 5:45pm