Reel Toronto: Flash of Genius
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Reel Toronto: Flash of Genius

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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What do you mean you haven’t heard of Flash of Genius!?
Maybe it’s because it’s a Hollywood movie, shot here (in place of 1960s Detroit), and it doesn’t suck! Yeah, they probably didn’t know what the heck to do with such a peculiar beast.
This here flick, starring Greg Kinnear, tells the story of Robert Kearns, the man who invented intermittent windshield wipers and then spent decades suing Ford, which ripped off the idea. We’ll be gosh-darned if they shot even a single frame of this inside the GTA, but that just means there’s a kazillion Toronto locations to love.


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At the start of the film, Kearns visits Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church on Bloor and we’re always happy when we get a matching exterior…
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…and interior.
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Kearns goes to Ford’s unveiling of the new wipers, which, as we can see from the exterior…
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…and interior, is actually the Ex’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
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Playing the role of Detroit’s industrial skyline: Hamilton! He appears to be cruising down Eastport Drive, under the QEW.
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Kearns is a university professor, so no surprise they shot a ton at U of T. Here’s the steps of Convocation Hall.
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Here’s a lecture room at the McClennan Labs. An identical room was used in Good Will Hunting.
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Kearns and son have a man-to-man talk at the Wymilwood Cafe, at Vic.
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And these exciting archives are also at Vic.
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Here’s a little more exterior work, in the courtyard outside the University College residences.
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U of T doesn’t hog all the post-secondary love; this library was shot at Osgoode Hall.
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We must admit it took us a few seconds to figure out this rather unique angle, but this fancy auto company office is actually the roof podium at City Hall. Cool, eh?
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Another auto HQ? Not as exciting as City Hall, but this is the Ryerson building out in Etobicoke.
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This office, as you can sorta see by the lake out the window, is the Toronto General building at the foot of Bathurst Street.
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The lakeshore gets a little more face time here (with some special effects added) at the portlands-area shipping channel bridge.
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The family house is up in North York at 85 Snowcrest Avenue.
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This courtroom lobby is actually the Ferguson Block building, off Queen’s Park.
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When Kearns decides to sue, he hires lawyer Alan Alda and they dine out at the recently shuttered Bigliardi’s Steakhouse.
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Cheaper eats to be found here, at the (also defunct) Canary Restaurant, where he hangs out with a creepily wigged Dermot Mulroney.
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And the film’s final scene finds Kearns reflecting with his family (dig the visual metaphor, yo!) at Church Street’s Studio Restaurant.
It might not be Oscar material, but Flash of Genius loves Toronto, and Toronto should love Flash of Genius right back.

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