Reel Toronto: Hollywoodland
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Reel Toronto: Hollywoodland

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.

“I am a star. I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star. I am a big, bright, shining star.”

Some people have a hate-on for ol’ Ben Affleck, but we like him just fine. One of his underappreciated flicks is this here little number, Hollywoodland.
It tells the tale of George Reeves, the guy who played Superman on TV, and follows a detective (played by Adrien Brody) trying to figure out if he committed suicide or if he was murdered. The working title was the more evocative “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” and Kyle MacLachlan was once lined up for the main role, and then there was a whole battle getting Warner Bros. to let them use the Superman logo…but that’s another story.
It’s not very often that Toronto gets tricked out as Los Angeles, especially in the 1950s, but it does a pretty fine job here.

“So I says, ‘Carlu? I don’t even know you!'”

Reeves works some of his movie-star magic at this party, filmed at our lovely Carlu at College Park.

In a period piece, nothing could be finer than the Senator Diner

Gradually, Reeves comes to realize that people see him as Superman and he has to watch himself in public. The big epiphany comes at the Senator Diner, when a bunch of kids are gawking at him from the window, and he rises to the occasion.

It’s gone through a few name changes and owners, but the Lakeview is a Hollywood fave.

And if you’re in Toronto and like your historic diners, you might as well stop at the (recently re-opened) Lakeview Lunch, like they do here.

See, we have a beach! It’s just like L.A.!

One of the most striking locations is the pavillion at Sunnyside Beach, which rarely looks so gay these days. (By “gay” we mean “mid-century happy,” of course.)

Despite his connection to the place, Affleck did not attend last month’s Mallrats screening.

In something of an apocryphal tale, Reeves goes to see From Here to Eternity only to find out his role has been cut because people laughed when they saw “Superman.” The premiere takes place at the Bloor Cinema, and you can see they’re sitting up in the balcony…hopefully they cleaned up for the movie stars.

Insert joke about how the movie unfairly died at the box office here…

This coroner’s office is, um, our chief coroner’s office. The one on Grenville Street.

They ain’t visiting William Lyon Mackenzie’s grave…but they could.

In real life Reeves was interred in Altadena, California, but the funeral scene was shot at the Toronto Necropolis.

Brody lobbies in the lobby.

Brody tries to track down the truth, having an encounter here in the distinctive lobby of the Royal York. Pardon us, the Fairmont Royal York.
Other interiors were shot at St. Lawrence Hall and on Adelaide and Fraser streets, and they also got some park shots at Ashbridge’s Bay.
And there you have it. It may not be a classic, but we think Hollywoodland is a pretty super Toronto-shot flick, darn it.