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A (Nowhere Near) Complete Guide to Films Shot on the Toronto Transit Commission

Lower Bay isn’t the only place on the Toronto subway where movies are shot. In March 2002, Bloor station on the Yonge line was temporarily renamed Bishop Square, and we have the photos (by Aaron Adel) to prove it.

The reviews listed here are the reviewers own opinion and do not reflect the opinion of Transit Toronto in general.

  • Due South (Television Series)
    Year made: 1994-9,
    Starring: Paul Gross, David Marciano, Callum Keith-Rennie
    Rating: 3-4.5 stars.
    Review: A Mountie comes to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father and for reasons that don’t need explaining at this time, stays for three seasons. An understated classic of Canadian television, featuring some truly memorable episodes as the pilot, Victoria’s Secret and Vault, to name a few. Has an incredible range, taking the viewer from lighthearted comedy to tear-jerking drama. Highly recommended.
    Use of TTC Sets: Although set in Chicago, and featuring some Chicago establishing shots, almost all of the series is filmed in Toronto, and it shows. This born-and-bred Torontonian has frustrated a number of American viewers by pointing out all of the streetcar tracks and passing glimpses of CLRVs, neither of which exist in Chicago. Only one subway scene exists, shot in Lower Bay, with a newsstand added to the platform.

  • Extreme Measures
    Year made: 1996,
    Starring: Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman
    Rating: 2 stars, according to Leonard Maltin’s movie guide.
    Use of TTC Sets: One scene in this movie involves a gunfight in what is supposed to be on the Lex Grand Central Station. However, the track pattern as seen in the scene does not conform to reality. You never see more than two tracks at once, even though there are supposed to be three or four in the scene, plus a lot of switches. The scene is a typical gunfight between good guys and baddies, and one individual gets electrocuted by the third rail (of course) with an explosion of sparks from his body (of course). Another gets his foot trapped in a switch while a subway train (ringing its bell as if it were a freight locomotive) bears down on him. The survivors run away, only to be confronted by another train, which manages to brake without hitting them (which is fortunate, for the train also appears to be on a collision course with the first train mentioned)

    This train is clearly a TTC H-1, proving that at least part of this scene was filmed on the Toronto subway. It is not clear from the scene, however, where in the Toronto subway tunnels this movie was filmed. A lot of action takes place at a scissors crossover, which isn’t available around Lower Bay.

  • Gridlock
    Year made: 1998,
    Starring: David Hasselhoff
    Rating: 1.5 stars.
    Review: Criminals seek to create optimum chaos in New York City to help in their robbery of the Federal Reserve, so they blow up bridges off the island of Manhattan. Rogue cop David Hasselhoff faces off against them. Fun escapist twaddle. No more, no less.
    Use of TTC Sets: To escape the chaotically clogged streets of New York, the criminals blow a tunnel into a subway and end up in Lower Bay Station. A fight takes place on the tracks and the criminal and David Hasselhoff have to be careful to avoid a rushing subway train — a older Toronto model which has apparently been modified with a horn and bell typically heard on diesel railroad engines. I guess nobody in the sound room ever rode on a subway before. Oh, well.

  • Johnny Mnemonic
    Year made: 1995,
    Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer
    Rating: 2 stars
    Review: In the dystopian future of 2021, a “cyber-courier” carrying valuable information in an implant in his head spends almost the whole movie trying to get away from bad guys who want to kill him and remove his head. Visually interesting, but other than that it’s just a cliche chase, with indifferent logic and acting. William Gibson adapted his own story.
    Use of TTC Sets: In Newark, New Jersey, our hero and a friend evade the bad guys via an evidently abandoned subway tunnel, which leads them to a very grimy Lower Bay station. Also of Toronto interest is a plague hospital scene, again set in Newark, and filmed in the Great Hall of Union Station.

  • Last Night
    Year made: 1998,
    Starring: Don McKeller
    Rating: 4 stars.
    Review: Don McKeller writes, directs and stars in this movie set in Toronto at the end of the world. Creepy for its familiarity, and generally grim, but somewhat uplifting in its finale. This movie is not for all tastes.
    Use of TTC Sets: Toronto is remarkably sedate during the last night of the world, but there are some roving mobs about committing random acts of violence. One such act is the tipping of an abandoned CLRV, probably on Adelaide Street.

  • Mimic
    Year made: 1997,
    Starring: Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam
    Rating: 3 stars (by Leonard Maltin)
    Review: Not viewed. I believe the movie has something to do with giant cockroaches, but is reputed to be fairly scary.
    Use of TTC Sets: Lower Bay station is well re-dressed to play New York’s Delancey Street station in two scenes, with various H-cars rolling through; we also visit the tunnels nearby. There is also what appears to be a room in the space beyond one end of the station, or under a stairway. (Later scenes in the movie use real New York trains.)

  • Night Heat (Television Series)
    Year made: ?,
    Starring: ?
    Rating: (unrated).
    Review: Very entertaining stuff.
    Use of TTC Sets: Episode 15, The Quest/The Gun, starts off at night with some action just outside the Bellair exit of Bay Station. The police are tipped off to a drug deal and follow a suspect. The suspect proceeds to go down the stairs at Bellair. (Which would lead him to that glass divider area and the Lost Articles office). The police follow. The next camera angle shows the suspect coming down the stairs. Strangely there is now an escalator beside the stairs. Having worked nearby Bay Station for over 8 years - this does not look like any location within Bay Station. The suspect pays his fare and enters the very crowded station (odd amount of people for what appears to be a rather late time). Making matters more confusing is that there is a set of stairs for Eastbound and one for Westbound. Clearly this is not Bay Station. He proceeds to the westbound side. We finally discover what station we are at, when the suspects comes down the stairs - it is the Glen Rd. exit stairs at Sherbourne station. The suspect waits on the crowded platform and the police stay back - trying to avoid giving themselves away. The suspect is smoking! The virtually empty train arrives. The rollsign on the front has been removed and it is simply a blank light. The train also appears to come into the station backwards as (looking from the front) - the passengers are on the right side, the train comes from the left side - but comes from the top of the screen, not from the bottom! The doors open and the whistle blows shortly thereafter. The train is slightly littered with garbage. An exchange of cash from drugs occurs while the train is in transit. The train then arrives at Bay station. Some of the walls are spray painted. The suspect now in pursuit (since the drug exchange took place) - bolts off the train and runs up the stairs to the main level by the ticket collector. He turns around and runs towards the Lost Articles Office. Runs down the stairs back to the platform level. Runs down the eastbound waiting platform, back to the same set of stairs he ran up the first time. Back at the main level, you see one of the old transfer machines (the ones with the red button) - then he runs up the escalator leading to the West bay exit. During all this running perhaps 6 or 7 guns shots are fired off.

    Thanks to Rick Ambrozic for supplying us with this information.

  • Overdrawn at the Memory Bank
    Year made: 198?,
    Starring: Raul Julia
    Rating: 2 stars.
    Review: Renegade computer programmer Raul Julia, working at futuristic megacorporation called (surprise!) MegaCorp, runs afoul of his boss and does battle with him in a virtual reality world. Filmed for the Wonderworks series of PBS, I remember this show being fairly decent. I was also twelve years old at the time. It was recently ridiculed by the sci-fi comedy parody series Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which gives you some indication as to its true quality (so bad, it’s good). Other virtual reality movies would come along later and do the genre much better justice.
    Use of TTC Sets: Yorkdale subway station subs as a futuristic commuter hub for a scene or two.

  • Deadly Eyes (Also Titled: The Rats or Night Eyes)
    Year made: 1982,
    Starring: Sam Groom, Sara Botsford
    Rating: 2 stars (by Leonard Maltin).
    Review: A Canadian movie. Mark Leeper writes “And I think that [the] last quarter of the film has a great deal about the subway and the tunnels. There is some sort of celebration, perhaps the opening of a new tunnel. There is a scene of the press waiting for the first train to arrive after having used the tunnel and when it does you cannot see the passengers, you just see blood over the windows.”
    Use of TTC Sets: Unknown, but Lower Bay is likely.

  • Silver Streak
    Year made: 1976,
    Starring: Gene Wilder, Richard Prior, Patrick McGoohan
    Rating: 3.5 stars.
    Review: An unassuming Gene Wilder gets involved in a beautiful woman on board a cross-country train ride and finds himself embroiled in a violent plot by an unscrupulous art collector to protect the secret of his forgery. Gene should have known better; after all, lots and lots of murders happen on cross-country train rides. Oh, well. The movie is quietly funny, featuring good acting and charming characters while poking fun at the cliches of such train trillers as ‘North by Northwest’. The climax is especially well done. The movie is also significant as the first to team Gene Wilder with Richard Prior as a comic duo.
    Use of TTC Sets: None, but Toronto still features significantly in this movie. What is supposed to be an American train departing Los Angeles for Chicago is clearly a Canadian Pacific train departing Toronto’s Union Station and returning there at the end of the movie. The train that crashes into Union Station at the end of the film is clearly (to those who know Union Station) diagonal to, rather than parallel with, the train tracks. The special effects were well done, here, especially where the train crashes at the end.

    Malcolm MacPherson adds: “The actual crash scene for _Silver Streak was indeed done at full scale, but at an airport hanger outside of Los Angeles. An almost exact replica of Union Station was built, and the 1:1 scale locomotive was sent smashing into it. A bunch of continuity shots were then taken, and the “aftermath” scene was recreated in the real Union Station, complete with locomotive and rubble. Union station was also “Kansas City” in the movie. And as for the actual locomotive itself, for the movie it retained it’s real fleet number, 4070, and “AM Road” was painted over the CP lettering and logo. After filming, CP was unable to wash off the “temporary” paint, and ended up repainting the entire locomotive back to Cp livery. The locomotive that was used (FP7A 4070) was later sold to STCUM where it was renumbered to 1300 in 1983.”_

    The recreation of the crash site in the Great Hall of Union Station caused some alarm to commuters heading to work that day.

  • The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1998 Remake)
    Year made: 1998,
    Rating: 1.5 stars.
    Review: A remake of the classic 1970s New York subway hijacking movie starring Walter Matthau, the 1998 remake fails to impress. It stays close to the original script with little inspiration in terms of directing or acting. Do yourself a favour and rent the far superior classic version.
    Use of TTC Sets: Lower Bay Station puts in an appearance, as does an H1 train made up to look like a New York train. Much of the action is confined to the subway tunnels and the insides of the cars themselves. The scenes of the train rushing out of control are so obviously the same shots recycled and played at extra-fast speed that it is embarrassing to watch.

  • The Time Shifters (TV-movie)
    Year made: 1999
    Starring: Casper Van Dien, Catherine Bell
    Rating: 2.5-3 stars.
    Review: A reporter for a supermarket tabloid paper discovers evidence that tourists from the future are visiting disasters in our time — including details about several upcoming disasters, which he tries to prevent. But if he does, the future that the time travelers came from won’t exist, so now they have to stop him. Unfortunately, accompanying this solid premise are a fair number of cliches, things like family members doing exactly the wrong thing and putting themselves in jeopardy. Not as good as it could have been, but worth watching.
    Use of TTC sets: A subway disaster, set in Chicago, is filmed with Lower Bay representing all the stations, and a train of M-1 cars. For the actual crash, however, a clip from Money Train (1995) is used; the train (representing fictitious New York equipment) seen in that one shot (filmed on a set in California) clearly doesn’t match the one in the rest of the scene. Also of Toronto area interest is a sequence filmed in the great hall of Union Station, and just outside on Front Street. The climactic sequence takes place at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum, which appears under its own name but is transferred to an unidentified US city.

Other movies shot on the TTC (primarily in Lower Bay) include:

Darkman (1990)
Extreme Measures (1996)
Bait (2000)
Bless the Child (2000)
Loser (2000)
Don’t Say a Word (2001)
The Caveman’s Valentine (2001)
Undercover Brother (2002) * shot someplace other than Lower Bay
You Stupid Man (2002)
Bulletproof Monk (2003)
Honey (2003)
The Recruit (2003) * shot someplace other than Lower Bay
The Republic of Love (2003)
New York Minute (2004)
16 Blocks (2006)
Take the Lead (2006)

Thanks to Mark Brader and Malcolm MacPherson for providing information and corrections to this web page

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