‘Scene’ic Toronto: Two Streets, Two Courtrooms, Four Cities

February 27, 2012 by

Uniquely Toronto

Movie set

Making movie magic in downtown Toronto - Photo courtesy of Alan Daly via Flickr

Shooting films in Toronto is a win for filmmakers and audiences both. It’s cheap, pleasant, and accessible for crew (at least compared to other on-site locations they might have had to deal with), and it passes off as almost any major U.S. city in the minds of moviegoers – especially American audiences that aren’t too familiar with Toronto’s downtown area. Here are four iconic scenes from four different cities… that all happen to be Toronto.

  • A Green Monster Weaves Through Bumper Cars (Toronto as New York City): Edward Norton’s version of the classically tortured superhero charges through Toronto’s Yonge Street in the movie The Incredible Hulk – only it’s meant to be Harlem. Army tanks, rival experiments gone wrong, sadistic troops, people fleeing for their lives… yeah, it does sound a bit more like NYC than Toronto.
  • High School-Age High Notes (Toronto as Baltimore): The critically successful remake of Hairspray from 2007 opened with a bang, or at least a belt. “Good Morning, Baltimore” should actually be sung as “Good Morning, Toronto,” since that’s where Tracy Turnblad belts her first solo and rides the garbage truck (after a mishap with the bus) to Toronto’s Lord Lansdowne Public School.
  • Richard Gere Shouts Between Tap-Dances (Toronto as Chicago): If you’re a fan of the Cell Block Tango and other catchy dance numbers from the movie Chicago, a visit to Osgoode Hall in the downtown area just might get your toes tapping. Since the building itself is a little over a century and a half old, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the courtrooms are called “Heritage Courtrooms.” Yup, this is where Richard Gere… er, Tap-Dances Around the Witness with his words.
  • Two (Sort-of-Irish) Brothers Shout a Very Poetic Warning (Toronto as Boston): “We do not ask for your poor or your hungry. We do not want your tired and sick. It is your corrupt we claim… and we will send you to whatever God you wish!” Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, and Billy Connolly serve up some old-fashioned punishment in Toronto’s Old City Hall. The beige pillars they carry their weaponry past are a floor below the Council Chamber, where the famous speech is given and where Papa Joe is, well, taken care of; it’s open to the public when court is not in session.

 -Natalie Grant

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