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.
Gentle readers, it is our contention that the city’s true cinematic gems are the terrible TV movies shot here in the ’80s and ’90s. Many of these, sadly, aired once and are never to be seen again. We imagine them locked away, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, in vast production warehouses or—in a few lucky instances—recorded onto VHS and stashed in scattered attics. Some of these we know to have been broadcast but, like many holy relics, their existence had to be taken merely on faith. So, you can imagine our joy when we found that someone had actually dug up one such relic, and uploaded a poorly-recorded VHS source on to YouTube!
Now we present to you, in all its righteous glory, Madonna: Innocence Lost! Herein be the story of the legendary pop diva, her daddy issues and her rise to fame, pre-Drake smooch! (Oh, and the loss of her innocence, natch.) She grew up in Detroit and broke big out of New York (or so the legend has it!) but this classy joint was all filmed right here.
We start out in fair “Michigan” at this church.
It’s actually our own Grace Church-on-the-Hill.
Anyway, eventually she makes her way to New York, New York.
Later on she watches some street musicians and dancers in the same spot, on what might be the city’s most filmed street, Victoria Street. This is behind the Elgin Theatre, whose marquee you can see there.
Not just a singer, but an aspiring dancer too, the young Madonna also visits the old National Ballet School building.
Here she’s busking on a street…
…that demonstrates how filmmakers toss garbage on our streets to make it look more like the United States.
When we pull back we see she’s on King West, outside what today is an outpost of the vast Firkin empire.
She also, being an aspiring musician, plays the local clubs. This one…
…we’re pretty sure, is the historic Silver Dollar Room.
Equally obvious is the club where she finally finds her muse and becomes MADONNA. It’s Lee’s Palace. We can tell because of the sign on the b- You were ahead of us here, right?
One fun thing about TV movies is seeing Canadian actors pop up. This is Nigel Bennett, one of those guys you just know you’ve seen in a billion things.
We wish we knew where this is but there’s nothing contextual. Still, it’s an ancient Food City!
It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that Madge is portrayed by young ingenue Terumi Matthews who, all due respect, does not have the lengthiest IMDB entry. She does look like Madonna, in that she is a Caucasian human female, and possesses an average build.
Howsabout some bonus content? See, it’s funny, because though Terumi Matthews doesn’t look much like Madonna, she did play her again one more time. Students of history may recall that the real Madonna was a one-time paramour of the eccentric Hall-of-Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman (among others!) and that he wrote a bestselling biography and that it was filmed as a TV movie of its own. Wanna guess where they shot Bad As I Wanna Be:The Dennis Rodman Story?
But, as we have previously lamented, Bad as I Wanna Be is even more lost to history than Madonna: Innocence Lost. If Innocence Lost is the Ark of the Covenant, Bad as I Wanna Be is the Holy Grail. Previously, we’d only been able to find the trailer BUT some soul has put the film’s first 15 minutes on YouTube, which makes us wonder whether this soul is cruel or generous. For our part, we’ll take what we can get as there are some GTA locations are to be seen.
So, we start out in these Dallas projects.
They actually shot over in the now-destroyed Regent Park South.
We know they filmed at Jarvis Collegiate, so we assume it’s this gym stuff, probably?
Rodman is then sent to Oklahoma where he feels somewhat out of place.
This isn’t anywhere near Oklahoma; it’s downtown Uxbridge.
And, sadly, that’s all we’ve got. But if you have a copy stashed in your attic, drop us a line!