This is one of the best comedies of the 1980s, featuring a cast at the height of their powers. King of the heap is Eddie Murphy, fresh from the success of "48 Hours" and in razor sharp form.
The plot may well be lifted wholesale from Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper", but it lends the film a simple elegance that is a rarity among the increasingly crass comedies that have followed.
Dan Aykroyd plays a deliriously smug hotshot investment broker who is set up by Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche for a one dollar bet. Disagreeing over the importance of 'environment over breeding' in business, they decide to set up an experiment. The outraged and perplexed Aykroyd suddenly finds himself with no friends, money, or even a home. All these riches are now given to the homeless but resourceful Eddie Murphy, along with carte blanche to invest in the financial markets.
Bellamy assures Ameche that Murphy will be able to run their commodities business as effectively or better than Aykroyd, who was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. They both reckon that Aykroyd will react to his sudden ostracism by turning to crime. This he duly does, only he's not very good at it as hooker Jamie Lee Curtis is only too happy to point out.
This incredible turn of fortune is milked for all it's worth as Aykroyd can only watch as Murphy quickly adapts to the high life with consummate ease. Both actors revel in their respective parts and veterans Bellamy and Ameche delight as the two scheming brothers whose simple bet results in the most extraordinary chain of events.
"Trading Places is on BBC1, Monday 14 November 2000, at 11.30pm.