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culture

Reel Toronto: A Raisin in the Sun

Starring the performer formerly known as P. Diddy, this adaptation of the classic play makes good use of Toronto.

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.

raisininthesun

A Raisin in the Sun was a classic Broadway play made into an award-winning film starring Sidney Poitier. So you can imagine our skepticism coming across a remake (!), shot as a TV movie (!!), doubling Toronto for Chicago (!!!) and starring Sean Combs (!!!!!). After all, it’s not like he has a long history of successful acting roles (Get Him to the Greek wasn’t exactly Hamlet, after all), and it’s not like this city has a proud history hosting great rapper-as-actor movies.

But, hey, it’s not terrible! And it’s a based on a Broadway revival with the same cast that did rather well, so who are we to criticize?

2013 03 12stamos wtf

Really, we’re not even going to raise your suspicions by dwelling on the fact that John Stamos has a supporting role. Really.

2013 03 12macdonell queen side

Neither you nor we care about how Diddy does, filling Sidney Poitier’s shoes. All we care about is locations, and this sucker has them! This “Chicago” apartment, where many of the scenes take place, is actually on MacDonnell Avenue

2013 03 12macdonell queen

…just north of Queen.

2013 03 12lakeshore

This beautiful scene could be Chicago, but it’s actually just on Lakeshore Drive.

2013 03 12airportinback

Similarly, we suppose this could almost be Lake Michigan, but since they don’t have trees in the middle of their harbour (nor what looks like the island airport), we’re gonna say this is down by Harbourfront.

2013 03 12shipleybuilding

This early scene has Puff Daddy playing a limo driver in front of what’s labelled as the Shipley Building…

2013 03 12side of king eddie

…but it’s actually the side entrance of the King Edward Hotel

2013 03 12downvictoria

…on Victoria Street.

2013 03 12lakeview

People have to eat, and so they do…

2013 03 12lakeview2

…at the Lakeview.

2013 03 12silverdollar

And you also gotta dance, so they do…

2013 03 12silverdollar2

…at the Silver Dollar.

2013 03 12grocer

There’s no exterior shot of this period store, but we’re pretty sure it’s the old Handyman Shop, on Dundas West. Today, progress being what it is, it’s a Starbucks.

2013 03 12 shop

It’s a bit hard to see for sure…

2013 03 12 shop dundasstreet

…but this shop looks like it’s also on Dundas West.

2013 03 12faruqarslane

When things are looking down for Puffy, he strolls down this lane, actually Farqhuars Lane, which you’ve probably walked by a hundred times without knowing it even had a name. It’s just off the Esplanade.

2013 03 12house406

Later in the movie, the family moves out to the suburbs, and this handsome, white-picket-fenced house.

2013 03 12housestreet1

The house itself appears to be gone

2013 03 12housestreet northview houseisgone

…but you can see it was once on Northview Avenue, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road.

2013 03 12ucquad

One location that keeps coming up (why, we even saw it in the previous column!) is the picturesque quad at University of Toronto’s University College.

See, that wasn’t so bad, was it? We’ll try to remember to be more forgiving next time we come across a TV movie starring a musician.

Comments

  • Antoine Rouge

    I worked on this for a few days. That period grocery store was on Dundas, but it was some cornershop bakery/grocery shop in the Dundas/Palmerston area, I can’t remember where exactly. There were some bus stop scenes shot in front of the Dominion building on Front street.

  • Bernie

    Great detective work. How did you find out that’s Northview Ave.? The same house is still there on the north side of the street, but the picket fence is gone. I suspect the fence was a prop.