Reel Toronto: Stanley & Iris
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Reel Toronto: Stanley & Iris

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.

Imagine you wanted to film a weepy, lovey-dovey after-school special about illiteracy, but with two top-notch actors. Stop imagining: it’s Stanley & Iris!

This 1989 flick, starring Jane Fonda and Robert De Niro, has Oscar bait written all over it—it never quite comes together, though. It’s supposed to take place mostly around Connecticut, but there are some local landmarks to spot on the way.

Because of its age and the more unusual locations it used, Stanley and Iris proved tricky. We did our best, though, with help from our crack team of special investigators and know-it-alls.

One of the more infuriating scenes, for example, has Robert De Niro walking around this neighbourhood, lost because he can’t read the street signs (he can’t read!). Those signs might look like real Toronto signs, but they’re fake names. Thanks for wasting our time, filmmakers.

Luckily there are some other clues. We gradually pieced together that De Niro is peregrinating in the lovely Rosedale area. Here he is, for example, at the intersection of Cluny Drive and Cluny Avenue.

And he finally finds Fonda at this old bus shelter, at Sherbourne and Maple.

Here, he and Fonda hang out in Kew Gardens…

…and this is Kew Gardens by daylight. That blue house there on the left has gotten a new coat of paint but you can see it’s this one, on Lee Avenue.

If you’re gonna teach someone to read you’ve just gotta get yourself a library, eh? This lovely book depot is the Emmanuel College Library at U of T…

…which you can see a bit more of in this shot. Pop music aficionados no doubt recall that Tears for Fears’ video for “Head Over Heels” also shot here. We’re actually kind of embarrassed we forgot to mention it in our column on 1980s videos.

Now, this burger joint sure seems to be Lick’s, right?

Luckily, Jane Fonda heads outside long enough for us to see that this could be the Kingston Road outlet.

De Niro has to put his dad in a home. The scenes for this part were shot on the grounds of the old Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, best known to Reel Toronto diehards (you know who you are!) as the police academy in, well, Police Academy.

You can see more of the grounds here.

This could be any laundromat but it’s actually Dina’s, out at 1268 Bloor Street West.

It’s still a laundromat, so while we acknowledge this isn’t exactly the pottery scene from Ghost, there’s still a great opportunity for you to recreate cinematic greatness by washing your whites where Bobby D once trod.

Somewhat more difficult is this shoe repair shop. The only clues we had were the bus outside and the “385” on the window but it appears to be what is now Sparta Enterprises, on Donlands Avenue.

Finally, Stanley and his special ladyfriend visit the Big Smoke and while this bedroom might not be much of a clue…


…the lobby reveals it to be at the King Edward.

And that’s probably about all you need to know about Stanley & Iris. That said, it’s the only movie De Niro has shot here, aside from the unmemorable Godsend, so you might as well take what you can get.


CORRECTION: March 28, 11:57 AM Thanks to eagle-eyed readers this article has been updated to identify the previously unknown park as Kew Gardens and the shoe repair shop as being on Donlands Avenue. Also a mea culpa: this is not the only De Niro movie shot in Toronto. He was also here for 2004’s Godsend. How could anyone forget Godsend?

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