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Reel Toronto: Owning Mahowny

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
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Sure, it’s a downer movie about a gambling addict, but why is Owning Mahowny cool? Not only because it’s got the always-cool Philip Seymour Hoffman and not only because it’s actually a real movie (albeit an indie) actually set in Toronto. No, even better, it’s a period piece (complete with yellow police cars!) and if that’s still not enough, it’s also a true story.
This dude (real name Brian Malony) worked for CIBC in the early 1980s and skimmed funds from the bank to fund his gambling addiction. At least until he got caught…


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First up, if you’re gonna do a story about a banker, you need a bank! Enter 1 King West. Before it got its condo/hotel topper it was the historic and grandiose Toronto Dominion Building.
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We get a couple of nice city shots while the credits are still running. Here’s a vintage streetcar running along King Street as we look down Yonge towards Front.
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The Le Bifthèque sign here is a dead giveaway that we’re looking down Sheppard Street towards Sheraton Centre.
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This here bowling scene was shot at the Rexdale Bowlerama.
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This might be the most cinematic hallway in the city. Part of the MacDonald Block government building near Queen’s Park, we’ve also seen it in the likes of John Q and The Recruit.
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These elevator banks are in the same handsome building.
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A little warmer are these offices in the old Massey House on Jarvis Street.
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This is supposed to be the outside of an Atlantic City casino, but you might recognize those arches as being part of the Donald D. Summerville pool down at Woodbine Beach.
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This humble structure is the now defunct Cherry Restaurant on Cherry Street.
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Mahowny meets his bookie (the always awesome honourary Canadian Maury Chaykin) at this empty hockey rink. It’s Varsity Arena, of course.
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A little bit of legal authenticity: at the end of the flick Mahowny and his lady love leave the driveway behind the courthouse at 361 University Avenue.
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If you’re still not sold on this flick you should know that Minnie Driver is in it wearing a wig that makes her unrecognizable, at best, and looking eerily like Karla Homolka at worst. Yikes.

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