They shoot film, don't they?

In B.C., our movie history starts here

Published: Jul 15 2013, 12:48:pm

BRITISH COLUMBIA FEATURE FILM FIRSTS — Canada's first permanent movie house, John Schuberg's Edison Electric, had a Gastown address. It opened on Vancouver's Cordova Street in 1902 and offered the latest in novelty entertainment — short, silent films that moved and occasionally told stories. Soon, movies would grow to feature length, spinning yarns that took more than an hour to view. Eventually, feature films were made in and around Vancouver. We number among our local production landmarks such achievements as:

First Dramatic Feature in B.C.THE CONFLICT (1921; d. Stuart Paton; with Priscilla Dean, Edward Connelly, Hector Sarno, Martha Mattox, Herbert Rawlinson) The tradition of Hollywood producers filming on location in B.C. begins with this tall timber melodrama shot in and around the East Kootenay town of Cranbrook by Universal Films.

First Canadian-made Feature in B.C. - POLICING THE PLAINS (1927; d. A.D. "Cowboy" Kean; with Dorothy Fowler, Jack Boyd, Miss Lougheed) A frontier romance made to honour the men and traditions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, director Kean's feature was a passionate attempt to found a domestic film industry.

First Sound Feature in B.C. - ROSE MARIE (1936; d. W.S. Van Dyke; with Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, James Stewart) Though the stars did all their singing on California sound stages, background exteriors for M.G.M.'s famous Mountie operetta were shot in Capilano Canyon.

First Colour Feature in B.C. - TIMBERJACK (1954; d. Joseph Kane; with Sterling Hayden, Vera Ralston, David Brian, Adolphe Menjou) Location shooting, on this tale of a son (Hayden) taking on his father's killers to save the family lumber mill, was done in Duncan and Cowichan Lake. The production company later shot footage in Montana, and it's not known which, if any, of the B.C. scenes made it into the finished film. It's entirely possible that the B.C.'s first colour feature is THE TRAP (1964; d. Sidney Hayers; with Rita Tushingham, Oliver Reed, Rex Sevenoaks) Another wilderness romance, this Anglo-Canadian co-production features a burly trapper (Reed) carrying a mute orphan (Tushingham) into an Eastmancolor North Shore rain forest.

First Canadian Made-for-Television Feature - WAITING FOR CAROLINE (1967; d. Ron Kelly; with Alexandra Stewart, Francois Tasse, Sharon Acker) Pioneering the movie-of-the-week format, this National Film Board/C.B.C. co-production offered bi-cultural domestic drama with a story set in both Vancouver and Quebec City.

First Canadian Feature Directed by a Woman - MADELEINE IS ... (1970; d. Sylvia Spring; with Nicola Lipman, John Juliani, Wayne Specht) Reflecting the militant, mystic 1960s, Torontonian Spring created a feminist fantasy about a runaway Quebecoise (Lipman) who finds personal fulfillment in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood.

First Box Office Megahit Made in B.C. - FIRST BLOOD (1982; d. Ted Kotcheff; with Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna) An American pop-culture icon, John Rambo, got his start with a rampage shot on location in Hope, B.C., and on the sound stages of Burnaby's Bridge Studios.

First 3-D Feature Made in B.C. - SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983; d. Lamont Johnson; with Peter Strauss, Molly Ringwald, Ernie Hudson) Bat men and barracuda women are among the stereoscopic shocks awaiting a space mercenary (Strauss) on forbidden planet Terra Eleven, also filmed on Bridge sound stages.

First Made-in-B.C. Feature to an win an Academy Award - THE ACCUSED (1988; d. Jonathan Kaplan; with Jodie Foster, Kelly McGillis, Bernie Coulson) Playing a rape victim who seeks justice through the courts, actress Foster gave an Oscar-winning performance during her working visit to Vancouver.

First IMAX 3-D Feature - WINGS OF COURAGE (1995; d. Jean-Jacques Annaud; with Craig Sheffer, Elizabeth McGovern, Tom Hulce) Vancouver stands in for 1930s Buenos Aires in the world's first non-documentary feature made in the IMAX stereoscopic format, a dramatization of the true story of Andes plane crash survivor Henri Guillaumet (Sheffer).

The above is a portion of Movies Made in Greater Vancouver by Michael Walsh, an entry in The Greater Vancouver Book, originally published in 1997. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.

See also the seven part series B.C. Feature Films — 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].