Our Feature Film Fest: 6

Romance in the rain forest

Published: Jan 09 2015, 01:01:am

Prepared for Chuck Davis and The Greater Vancouver Book — June, 1995
[Published in 1997 by The Linkman Press]

[PART 6: Lovely Couples]


THIS IS YOUR PROGRAM guide to a series of 20 movie retrospectives. Together, they include all of the theatrical feature films made in Vancouver and in release as of June, 1995. (Our current program does not include the made-for-TV pictures.) Though we've tried to be as complete as possible, we've almost certainly missed a few. If you know of any, please let us know. [Readers of this website who wish to get in touch with additions or corrections can reach me by using the Reeling Back Contact Me button.]
     Our notes on each picture include its title (and any alternate titles), its year of release, the director, leading players and a brief description.
     Our show continues with . . .


THOUGH VANCOUVER HAS YET to be the subject of a great love song, filmmakers know that romance in all its forms thrives in our rain forest. A variety of meaningful relationships have been played out in front of the cameras, including:

McCABE AND MRS. MILLER (1970; d. Robert Altman; based on the 1959 novel by Edmund Naughton) with Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois. A drifter (Beatty), determined to settle down, becomes enamoured of a frontier madam (Christie). Director Altman's second Vancouver-made feature, a gritty Northwestern, was shot in a mining town that he had built on Vancouver's North Shore. Julie Christie's performance in this Warner Bros. feature earned her a best actress Oscar nomination.

A MAN, A WOMAN AND A BANK (1979; d. Noel Black) with Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Paul Mazursky. Chicago-born Black, remembered as the director of the 1968 cult classic Pretty Poison, shot this caper comedy in photogenic Gastown. In it, two high-tech robbers (Sutherland, Mazursky) are distracted by a local beauty (Adams), a photographer working for the bank they have targeted. Made for AVCO Embassy, it is also known as A VERY BIG WITHDRAWAL.

BY DESIGN (1982; d. Claude Jutra) with Patty Duke Astin, Sara Botsford, Saul Rubinek. Near the end of his career the distinguished Quebec director Jutra was still breaking new ground thematically, with this comic tale of same-sex lovers (Astin, Botsford) who are seeking a man so that they can have a baby. An independent Canadian feature, Jutra's picture makes much of the fact that Vancouver is a peninsular city with the ocean never far away.

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY (1986; w./d. Nick Castle) with Jay Underwood, Lucy Deakins, Bonnie Bedelia. When she befriends an autistic classmate (Underwood), a lonely teenager (Deakins) discovers that he has amazing powers. Filming locations for this coming-of-age fantasy included Vancouver's Lord Byng Secondary School and the domed Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox.

FIRE WITH FIRE (1986; d. Duncan Gibbons) with Craig Sheffer, Virginia Madsen, Kate Reid. Vancouver's St. George's School, a private boys' school, plays the Oregon Catholic girls' academy that is home to a rebellious teen (Madsen). Complications ensue when she becomes romantically involved with an inmate (Sheffer) of the nearby boys' correctional facility. A Paramount Pictures release.

COUSINS (1989; d. Joel Schumacher) with Ted Danson, Isabella Rossellini, Sean Young. In a domestic comedy that makes Vancouver look like a lover's paradise, in-laws (Danson, Rossellini) keep romance within the family by pretending to cheat on their unfaithful spouses. In this Paramount Pictures remake of the sophisticated 1975 French romance Cousin cousine, Schumacher makes good use of such locations as Chinatown and North Vancouver's Lonsdale Quay.

IMMEDIATE FAMILY (1989; d. Jonathan Kaplan) with James Woods, Glenn Close, Mary Stuart Masterson. Maternity and married love are examined in this drama about a couple (Woods, Close) who are unable to conceive a child of their own. They agree to care for an unwed, pregnant teen (Masterson) in exchange for her baby. Vancouver locations, including Chinatown and Kits Beach, stand in for Seattle in this Columbia Pictures release.

THE CRUSH (1993; w./d. Alan Shapiro) with Cary Elwes, Alicia Silverstone, Jennifer Rubin. Nasty problems ensue when a precocious 14-year-old (Silverstone) becomes psychotically obsessed with her parents' handsome tenant (Elwes). A failed seduction at Stanley Park's Brockton Point leads to a deadly confrontation near UBC's Museum of Anthropology in this Warner Bros. teen-stalker thriller.

BULLETPROOF HEART (1994; d. Mark Malone) with Anthony LaPaglia, Mimi Rogers, Matt Craven. An East Coast hitman (LaPaglia) endangers his own life as well as his professional standing when he falls in love with the woman (Rogers) he's been hired to kill. An independent production released in the U.S. as KILLER, it used such industrial locations as the Versatile Pacific Shipyards to add gritty atmosphere.  

BAD COMPANY (1995; d. Damian Harris) with Ellen Barkin, Laurence Fishburne, Frank Langella. Working undercover, a C.I.A. operative (Fishburne) with an attitude problem is seduced by an attractive private contractor (Barkin). Vancouver substitutes for Seattle in a complex tale of political intrigue from Disney subsidiary Touchstone Pictures.

TOKYO COWBOY (1995; d. Kathy Garneau) with Hiromoto Ida, Christianne Hirt, Janne Mortil. This cultural re-adjustment comedy tells the story of a young Japanese (Ida) who arrives in Vancouver hoping to fulfil his Western fantasies. He discovers that his dream girl (Hirt) is living with a dream girl (Mortil) of her own. An independent Canadian feature, it was shot in Vancouver and the wide-open spaces of Merritt, B.C.

The above is Part 6 of a 20-part restoration of a Greater Vancouver Book article by Michael Walsh originally published in 1997. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

Afterword: Postings in this Feature Film Festival series include:

Part 1 [Introduction & Vancouver Firsts]
Part 2 [God's Country]
Part 3 [Cybercity]
Part 4 [Documentary]
Part 5 [Youthquakes]
Part 6 [Lovely Couples]
Part 7 [Encore]

Part 8 [Self-Portraits]

Part 9 [Encore II]

Part 10 [Local Heroes]
Part 11 [Directorial Tribute - Jack Darcus]
Part 12 [The B-List]
Part 13 [Things that Go Bump in the Night]
Part 14 [Cabin Fever Dreams]
Part 15 [Law and Order]
Part 16 [Terminal City Comedy Club]
Part 17 [Man's Best Friends]
Part 18 [In Other Words]
Part 19 [Midnight Madness]
Part 20 [On the Road Again]

See also: The seven-part series "Feature Films Made In Vancouver and B.C." from The Vancouver Book published in 1976 —  Part 1 [Introduction; the Silents]; Part 2 [Outside Vancouver, 1932-38]; Part 3 [Outside Vancouver, 1942-75]; Part 4 [Vancouver, 1932-68]; Part 5 [Vancouver, 1969-71]; Part 6 [Vancouver, 1972-75]; Part 7 [Miscellany & Sources].