The new film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World begins with a title card that reads “Not so long ago in the mysterious land of Toronto, Canada.” It establishes that the movie is set in Toronto, but not the Toronto we usually see in films. That Toronto often subs for New York or Chicago.
The Toronto of Scott Pilgrim comes complete with Casa Loma, Lee’s Palace and other T-Dot landmarks. It’s probably the most expensive movie to feature Toronto as itself, but it’s not the only one. Here’s a look back at Toronto on-screen:
Lawyerin’ and doctorin’ jobs!
For many people, the first on-screen glimpse of Toronto onscreen came from the backseat of a 1960 Chevrolet Impala. Goin’ Down the Road, the story of Pete (Doug McGrath) and his pal Joey (Paul Bradley), two Maritimers who set out in a Chevy to find a better life in Toronto, (SCTV joked they were looking for “lawyerin’ and doctorin’ jobs”) is a city time capsule circa 1970.
Look for great shots of Yonge Street attractions including the classic Sam the Record Man spinning double disc neon sign. The signs are gone now, making their last appearance in the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk.
Long live the new flesh!
Although David Cronenberg has made more than a dozen films in T.O. and says, “I love shooting in Toronto,” film critic Geoff Pevere says, “Toronto had never seemed weirder,” than in the director’s epic Videodrome.
The story of a sleazy UHF television station programmer who becomes spellbound by the hallucinatory power of porn movies, is set in Toronto and not only used many of the city’s locations, but its unique references as well. Civic TV allegedly refers to CityTV, which, in its early days used to air soft-core pornography late at night.
Yonge and Dundas and Beyond
For a look at the down-and-dirty Yonge Street Strip, once the body rub capital of Canada, check out Ron Mann’s 1974 Super-8 documentary The Strip. On the other end of the scale is Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, the story of a Toronto escort and the woman who hires her to test her husband’s fidelity. Toronto has never looked lovelier than this.
“At the level of metaphor, it’s interesting because Toronto is a prostitute. As a city, very often it pretends to be New York or Chicago or San Francisco,” Egoyan said. “So it’s interesting, since this is a film about that.”