10 movies you might not know were shot in Toronto
Toronto is one of the best actors in the movie industry. It has, over the decades, masqueraded as New York City, Chicago, Boston - even small-town USA. The TTC has a set of signs that make disused Bay Lower station look like a stop on the New York subway, and you can often spot bright yellow cabs lining the Toronto curb surrounded by movie cameras. In fact, Adelaide St. is pretending to be the Big Apple for the new Adam Sandler movie Pixels right now.
World Film Locations: Toronto, a new book edited by Tom Ue, film buff and scholar of English language and literature at University College London, chronicles our city's numerous appearances on the big screen in everything from terrifying zombie apocalypses (Resident Evil: Apocalypse) to goofy Adam Sandler comedies (Billy Madison.)
Using the book as my guide, here's a list of 10 famous movies shot in Toronto.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Toronto is disguised as the fictional U.S. town of Hohman, Indiana in this classic Christmas movie. When the Parker family's Oldsmobile gets a flat tire, Ralphie Parker's Old Man steps out onto Cherry Street in the Port Lands, just past the famous metal bridge. In the ensuing rush to swap out the wheel, the hubcap and bolts are knocked into the snow, prompting Ralphie's famous "oh, f...udge" response. "Only I didn't say 'fudge,' I said the word, the big one, the Queen Mother of dirty words, the f--- word."
Police Academy (1984)
The Silver Dollar Room on Spadina provided the all-important backdrop to a classic Police Academy scene - The Blue Oyster Bar. The all-night dance marathon scene that features a copious amount of leather-clad bikers was shot entirely within the Silver Dollar. The scene was so successful it became a repeat gag, appearing in three of the movie's six sequels.
When Cocktail's Brian Flanagan and Douglas Coughlin, played by Tom Cruise and Bryan Brown, dream of opening a bar of their own, the pair are working at the Cell Block - or, as Toronto knows it, the rotunda of the Don Jail. In one scene, the building, now lovingly restored as part of the Bridgepoint Health complex, is bathed in blue light and jam-packed with trendy drinkers when Tom Cruise gets up on the light-up bar to recite a poem.
Billy Madison (1994)
Black Creek Pioneer Village makes an appearance in Adam Sandler's first Hollywood movie following his stint on Saturday Night Live. On a school trip to Toronto's little town of historic buildings with the late, great Chris Farley, Sandler pours water on his crotch in solidarity with a kid who has wet himself. Toronto movie gold.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon and Minnie Driver's "Harvard bar" is actually the Upfront Bar and Grill on Front Street. The classic scene, which precedes the even better "how do you like them apples?" bit, sees Damon school a smug Harvard student with some homegrown genius. "My boy's wicked smart," says one of his buddies, reminding us it's is supposed to be Beantown.
American Psycho (2000)
Though the black steel of King Street's TD Centre would make a great movie exterior, it's the interior of one of its boardrooms that appears in American Psycho, a terrifying exploration of the vanity and egomania of the 1980s New York banking industry. In the scene, Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman tries to show off a new business card, but is left envious when his rivals produce nearly identical (but somehow better) ones of their own. "Something wrong, Patrick? You're sweating."
The X-Men movie franchise has spawned numerous sequels; the latest, Days of Future Past, came out last month. In the original flick, Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto meet in the suitably futuristic surroundings of Roy Thompson Hall to discuss the future of human- and mutant-kind. It's an important scene in the franchise as relations pretty much deteriorate from this point on.
The movie might be set and based around the culture of the windy city, but several key scenes were shot in a number of spots around Toronto: the Elgin Theatre, Union Station, Osgoode Hall, and on the steps of the Queen's Park legislature building. The toe-tapping song "Nowadays" that provides the movie's finale was shot entirely on the stage of the Elgin Theatre, re-branded for Hollywood purposes as the Chicago Theatre.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
The Resident Evil movie franchise evolved out of the classic Capcom video game, in which members of an elite police squad are forced to escape a mansion overrun by bloodthirsty zombies and other freaky mutants. Toronto is all over the 2004 movie. There are key scenes in Nathan Phillips Square, where there's an epic showdown between the Nemesis mutant and one of the main characters, and at the Prince Edward Viaduct, which plays the zombie-infested city's barricaded exit. The CN Tower even makes a brief cameo.
David Cronenberg has used Toronto as a backdrop in several movies, including Crash, in which the Don Valley Parkway makes a cameo appearance. Early in Cosmopolis, Robert Pattinson, as Eric Packer, steps from between the columns of Union Station to a row of identical white limousines. The rest of the movie showcases and later questions Packer's obsession with repetition and symmetry.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
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