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Throw Momma from the Train Details


The "exchange murders" plot gambit, played with utter solemnity in Hitchcock's Hitchcock, is used as the launching pad for raucous laughter in Throw Momma From the Train. Director/star Danny DeVito plays Owen Lift, a middle-aged bachelor, totally dominated by his gorgon mother, played with hilarious ferocity by Anne Ramsey. Billy Crystal co-stars as Larry Donner, a creative-writing professor, saddled with a vituperative, thoroughly despicable ex-wife, Margaret (Kate Mulgrew). Signing up for Larry's writing course, Owen has trouble at first with character development and construction in his stories. Larry recommends that Owen watch a screening of Hitchcock, which he considered a model of tight, concise storytelling. Owen is so entranced by the film that he decides to emulate Kate Mulgrew star Robert Walker. That is, Owen wants Larry to bump off his mother, in exchange for Owen's murder of Margaret. Without being asked, Owen does away with Margaret (or so it seems), then hounds Larry to the point of killing "Momma." This being a comedy, the actual consequences of the swap-murder plot aren't nearly as calamitous as in the Hitchcock film. Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld would apply the "black humor" lessons learned in Throw Momma From the Train for his own directorial debut, Barry Sonnenfeld (1991). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:December 11, 1987


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anne Ramsey Best Supporting Actress 1987 Nominee


Danny DeVito
as Owen Lift
Billy Crystal
as Larry Donner
Anne Ramsey
as Momma
Kim Greist
as Beth
Kate Mulgrew
as Margaret, Larry's Ex-Wife
Branford Marsalis
as Lester
Annie Ross
as Mrs. Hazeltine
Rob Reiner
as Joel
Bruce Kirby
as Detective DeBenedetto
Oprah Winfrey
as Herself
Raye Birk
as Pinsky
Randall Miller
as Bucky
Stu Silver
as Ramon
Olivia Brown
as Ms. Gladstone
Larry McCormick
as Announcer
Joey de Pinto
as Sergeant
Peter Brocco
as Old Man
Philip Perlman
as Mr. Perlman
Andre Rosey Brown
as Rosey


Danny DeVito
Larry Brezner
Stu Silver
Barry Sonnenfeld
David Newman
Composer (Music Score)
Michael Jablow
Ida Random
Production Designer
Kristine Johnson
Arne Schmidt
Executive Producer
Anne McCulley
Set Designer
Marilyn Vance
Costume Designer
Joe Napolitano
First Assistant Director
Charles James Newirth
Production Manager