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Randolph and Mortimer Duke: They’re back in business

Daniel Ray

I’ve been thinking about the Dukes.

Not those of Amboy, not those of Edinburgh, not even those you put up.

I’m thinking of Randolph and Mortimer Duke, the fictional brothers who appeared in two movies, and who were played with aplomb by Hollywood greats Don Ameche (Randolph) and Ralph Bellamy (Mortimer).

Ralph Bellamy (Mortimer Duke) and Don Ameche (Randolph Duke) as Wall Street scum

Their characters appear in two outstanding comedies from the ’80s: “Trading Places” and “Coming to America” — back when “Saturday Night Live” comics could graduate successfully to the big screen.

In 1983’s “Trading Places,” Ralph and Mortimer played main roles. They placed a $1 bet on whether they could ruin Louis Winthorpe III, a snooty rich accountant in their employ, played by Dan Ackroyd, while turning Eddie Murphy’s character, Billy Ray Valentine, from a bum into a valued employee.

Murphy’s character and Ackroyd’s character end up uniting and turning the tables. They manipulate the Dukes into making a huge bet on orange futures then twist the market to the good guys’ advantage.

The Dukes are ruined. Roll closing credits.

Murphy brought them back in his 1988 movie “Coming to America.” In their cameo, the Dukes have been reduced to homeless men. Murphy, now playing an African prince representing the kingdom of Zamunda, is in search of a bride.

The Dukes’ cameo doesn’t last long. It ends when Prince Akeem (Murphy) walks up. He sees the sad Dukes on the street. He gives them a wad of bills.

“Mortimer,” Randolph says, “We’re back in business!”

Let’s see … Crooked, greedy Wall Street operatives. They fleece the public and get away with it, for a while. Eventually, they’re seen as crooks and go broke. Then, the government sweeps in and hands them a big bag of money. They carry on as before.

I wish life didn’t imitate art so much.

See related: Tinsel meets plastic: The top 10 Hollywood credit card movies

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  • Anonymous

    good call hahaha

  • Dozirulf

    Maybe they could go back to trading bacon (like you might find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich).

  • rns1

    Great movies! Just caught the reruns this weekend and boy they don’t make comedies like they used to! These guys were great actors!

  • nematode

    Perhaps they learned their lesson and this time around, they will be humble, but you might be correct. That will not immitate life.

  • dc

    You could have actually watched the movie before writing this article. Prince Akeem walks, doesn’t drive at any point in the movie “Coming To America.” And he does not give Randolph and Mortimer currency from his own country. It is a large wad of American $100 bills that he took from his servant, Semi, to keep him out of mischief.

  • You are correct. That’s what I get for relying on memory, and the item has been updated to reflect what the movie actually showed. Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Hollie


  • Carmen

    Gezzz guys I guess one must be technical I guess. There is many interesting facts around this movie that I have caught that are fun. Like the entire futures scam that puts them out of business if you know anything about futures the way they portray it don’t make sense at all. What’s amazing about this movie is when you get to watch it on a real high definition tv. Also the private club is cool reminds me of the university club in chicago. I found many of other things in the movies that are strange and very cool.

    • DarthYan

      Back then it was actually perfectly legal; the movie played a small part in getting that abolished

  • willie matteson

    I saw 2 versions of the Duke brothers (Don Ameche/Ralph Bellamy)role in “Coming to America”.
    I preferred the one where their identities were not revealed until they cleared the haze off the outside of a window at the restaurant in which Eddie Murphy and Arseno Hall were seated in a both inside the restaurant next to that window.

  • Scott Seibel

    I think what makes those movies so funny is that there is a lot of truth in what they are making fun of.