It was the biggest thing to hit upstate New York in February in a while — and we’re not talking about a blizzard. We’re talking Steve Martin and John Candy.
That month in 1987, Hollywood came to Batavia and communities in Erie and Cattaraugus counties. The makers of a film called Planes, Trains and Automobiles needed locations that looked like the rural Midwest, only snowier.
Hundreds of locals answered a casting call for extras in the John Hughes comedy about mismatched traveling companions trying to get home for Thanksgiving.
“I knew people here would be pretty enthused, but I didn’t think it would be like this,” casting exec Cathie Holzer told the Democrat and Chronicle about the massive turnout at a Batavia restaurant.
The extras were paid $50 for a 10-hour day, plus time and a half for overtime.
During the filming, Candy was seen around Batavia. He made a stop at a tavern, Heveron's Towne Manor with a friend around midnight on Feb. 24,1987. After playing electronic darts, Candy decided he was hungry. Nick Cinquino, a manager of the Pizza Partners, offered to make him "the best pizza in Batavia."
Candy agreed to go — but only if he could make the pizza. Cinquino opened his shop around 2:30 a.m., and Candy took over the kitchen, keeping the group up until 4:30 a.m.
South Dayton, a small village in Cattaraugus County, was used to film the scene set in the Kansas town of Stubbville, where, in the words of unforgettable Planes, Trains character Owen said, the "people train runs."
Crews there shot scenes of Martin, Candy and passengers inside a train leased from the New York-Lake Erie rail line.
During their breaks, the extras shivered in the 12-degree air, grabbed cups of coffee and hot chocolate and ducked into the village fire hall for warmth. Martin and Candy, however, dodged spectators and spent their time in well-heated motor homes.
The snow was uncooperative for filming in the area. It was a no-show, so a snow-making crew from Vermont was brought in. Then the snow showed up at precisely the wrong moment. During a scene where a trooper (played by Michael McKean) pulls over Martin and Candy in their burned-out car, a squall rolled in and covered the camera lenses. Eventually, the storm passed and filming resumed.
And a holiday classic was born.
Reporter Marcia Greenwood covers general assignments. Send story tips to email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarciaGreenwood.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Thanksgiving movie filmed in Batavia