Reel Toronto: A Raisin in the Sun
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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.


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?

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

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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

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…just north of Queen.

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

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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.

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

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

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…on Victoria Street.

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People have to eat, and so they do…

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…at the Lakeview.

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And you also gotta dance, so they do…

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…at the Silver Dollar.

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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.

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It’s a bit hard to see for sure…

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

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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.

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

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The house itself appears to be gone

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

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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.