This page is devoted to movies that are NOT Canadian, but feature
Canadian characters or settings. Why? Well, other than just for fun, there's
a more sober reason. Namely that a lot of Canadian movies and TV shows
don't actually admit they're Canadian, pretending instead that their stories
and characters are American. The common mantra chanted by these Canadian
filmmakers is that they can't set their stories in Canada, because
then no one would watch them, and they couldn't get them distributed. So
here's an entire section devoted to non-Canadian movies with some sort
of significant, on-screen Canadian identity...and some of these were box
offices hits! You draw your own conclusions.
If you know of any other movies or TV shows, American, British, but
also non-English language, with some sort of significant Canadian on-screen
element (a principle character, etc.), e-mail me here.
Since these aren't reviews per se, I'm happy to include entries on films
and TV series I haven't seen myself.
A - H (I - Z)
For TV Series click here
An Adventure in Space and Time (UK)
(2013) David Bradley, Jessica Raine, Sacha Dhawan, Brian Cox.....Dramatization about the creation, and early years, of the long running, cult British science fiction series, Doctor Who. A fanboy indulgence, to be sure (scripter Mark Gatiss has had a long association with the program) -- that transcends itself to be a surprisingly entertaining drama, regardless of your interest in Dr. Who. A story about underdogs (the series' producer was the first woman producer at the BBC, the inaugural director was non-white), a period piece about the early 1960s and the vintage days of TV, a character drama (particularly Bradley's strong performance as troubled actor, William Hartnell). Cox plays Sydney Newman, the Canadian BBC executive (and at one point it's mentioned that another seminal Who writer, John Lucarotti, was also brought over from Canada).
The African Queen (USA)
(1951) Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart.....Classic romantic/comedy/adventure
set in Africa during the early part of the first World War (which I erroneously
identified as the Second WW, until a friendly e-mailer corrected me). The
behind the scenes story is that, in the source novel, Bogart's boat captain
character was British. This was crucial to the story (if I recall) 'cause
Bogart's country is supposed to be at war, but Hepburn, as an American
missionary, isn't. But Bogart couldn't do the accent. So, for the movie,
the character was made a Canadian (Canadians having entered the war long
before the United States). Canadian filmmakers often insist that a film
featuring a Canadian protagonist can't find an audience, but of course
this flick is a bona fide classic. Go figure. Trivia note: director John
Huston's dad (actor Walter Huston) was Canadian.
(1997) Nick Nolte, Julie Christie, Lara Flynn Boyle.....Off-beat comedy-drama
about two couples and love, relationships, secrets, etc. set in Montreal.
Written and directed by Alan Rudolph, what's interesting (and nice) is
that the Montreal setting (complete with characters speaking snippets of
French -- although intentionally self-consciously) is irrelevant. American
director Rudolph just happened to set it in Montreal. Like a lot of Rudolph's
films, it's an acquired taste. I found it a bit awkward in its blending
of comedy and drama (with Boyle, inparticular, playing it over the top
-- and I usually like Boyle). Still, interresting, and Christie received
an Oscar nomination.
Agnes of God (USA)
(1985) Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly.....Canadian-born director
Norman Jewison relocated the original stage-play (set in Boston) to Quebec
City -- the only time Jewison used his Hollywood clout to set a movie in
Canada (not counting Hurricane, mentioned below). The story concerns
a troubled nun (Canadian raised Tilly) accused of murdering her baby and is pretty...surrealistic
at times, playing around with religious themes.
(2012) Ben Affleck, Alan Arkin....Oscar-winning drama about the CIA's effort to extract American personnel from Iran during the Revolution -- personnel who have found sanctuary at the Canadian embassy. Based on a true story, the subject was previously used for a Canadian TV movie -- Escape from Iran (though with less emphasis on the behind-the-scenes CIA involvement since that was still largely classified at the time). Canadian actor Victor Garber plays real life Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor. When the movie was first released, Canadian commentators applauded the film's Canadian references (in one scene, Affleck's American CIA character coaches his crew on the colloquial pronunciation of T'ron'o!) Yet quickly the movie became viewed as a snub of Canada and the butt of jokes for the way it was perceived as American downplaying of Canadian involvement (even Jimmy Carter, president at the time, was quoted as saying "90 percent" of the operation was actually Canadian). Affleck (who directed as well as starred) defended the accuracy of the movie...but its main source was a book written by the man his character was based upon. The movie was also criticized for its stereotyped depiction of Iranians as a kind of monolithic fanatical mob.
Attack on the Iron Coast (UK/USA)
(1968) Lloyd Bridges, Andrew Keir.....WW II (fact-inspired) story about an Allied attack on a major Nazi naval port, with Bridges playing a Canadian commander. Thanks to Will Thomas for mentioning this one.
Auto Focus (USA)
(2002) Greg Kinnear, Willem DaFoe.....Bio-pic about the (lurid) private life of American sitcom star Bob Crane and his still unsolved murder...including a scene involving Crane's appearance on the Canadian afternoon cooking TV show, "Celebrity Cooks", hosted by actor Bruno Gerussi (played here by Canadian actor John Kapelos).
Back to God's Country (USA)
American James Oliver Curwood's novel about the Canadian north was filmed
as a Canadian silent movie and subsequently re-filmed
a few times by Hollywood (including once with Rock Hudson).
Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (USA)
(2002) Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu.....Action flick inspired by a video
game about various rogue American spies shooting it out in Vancouver. Apparently
not a lot of story logic, but lots of things blow up real good. Thanks
to an e-mailer for suggesting this one.
Barb Wire (USA)
(1996) Pamela Anderson Lee.....Science fiction adventure based on a comic
book heroine -- though borrowing its plot from "Casablanca" -- about night
club owning/exotic dancing/mercenary (Anderson) who decides to help her
ex-lover escape from a fascist USA to freedom in Canada. Other than as
the stated ultimate destination, the Canadian element is minor, though
sex symbol Anderson is, of course, originally from Canada. Thanks to an
e-mailer for suggesting this one.
Barbarians at the Gate (USA)
(1993) James Garner.....Surprisingly entertaining, enthralling comedy-drama
about the real life attempt at a leveraged buy-out of the RJR-Nabisco mega-corp
by American-based Canadian, F. Ross Johnson (Garner). A delightfully coherent
satire of big business mores. Garner's American accent makes him an unlikely
Canadian, but otherwise he's good (of course) -- acually, I'm not sure
if the movie even acknowledges Johnson's ethnic origins (at least...I'm
sure Johnson's Canadian).
The Bourne Identity (USA)
(1988) Richard Chamberlain, Jaclyn Smith.....In this TV mini-series based
on a Robert Ludlum espionage-thriller, Chamberlain's an American amnesiac
who discovers he has a wealth of aliases and oodles of money and fears
he may've been a high-priced assassin. He hooks up with Smith...who plays
a Canadian diplomat...to find the truth. Remade in 2002 -- minus the Canadian
element that was in this mini-series and the source novel!
The Bridge on the River Kwai (British)
(1957) Alec Guiness, William Holden.....Classic war suspense-drama about
P.O.W.s in a Japanese prison camp. It's been a while since I've seen it,
but an e-mailer said that one of the characters in the climax is identified
as being Canadian.
Bright Young Things (British)
(2004).....Satire of society dilletantes in England during the 1930s. Canadian
Dan Aykyroyd plays a Canadian press baron.
The Brotherhood of the Wolf (France)
(2003) ......France's answer to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is this
fantasy story about the hunt for a monster wolf in pre-Revolutionary France.
Good looking, but it seems like about three different scripts were thrown
together, resulting in a confusing mishmash of ideas and concepts, where
characters come and go, and themes arise and are dropped, where the characters
are supposed to be tracking a monster...and then spend most of the movie
doing everything but hunting the wolf; it can be funny...unintentionally.
A bit of a misfire, frankly. The main character has just returned from
New France (that is, Canada) and his sidekick is a Mohawk Indian.
The Brylcreem Boys (British)
(1996) Bill Campbell.....Apparently during World War II, Ireland was neutral
and would intern soldiers of any nation caught on Irish soil. Campbell
plays a Canadian pilot, a P.O.W. in Ireland, who gets involved in a romantic
rivalry with a fellow, German P.O.W. for a local Irish girl.
A Bullet for Joey (USA)
(1955).....Edward G. Robinson stars in this thriller about Cold War espionage in Montreal. Thanks to Will Thomas for suggesting this one
Cab to Canada (USA)
(1998) Maureen O'Hara.....Story (inspired by fact) of an elderly woman
who hires a cab to drive her from California to Canada and of the friendship
that evolves. Thanks to an e-mailer for suggesting this one.
Canadian Bacon (USA)
(1995) Alan Alda, Rip Torn, John Candy.....Michael Moore's only non-documentary
(to date) is a satire about an American president (Alda) looking for something
to boost his popularity, so he declares war on Canada. A few years later,
"Wag the Dog" used a similiar theme. Not a Canadian movie, despite the
presence of Candy and a cameo by fellow Canadian Dan Aykroyd.
Canadian Pacific (USA)
(1949) Randolph Scott, Jane Wyatt....Western about the building of the
The Canadians (USA)
(1961) Robert Ryan, John Dehner.....An unexpected surprise. Though a bit
slow-moving, this atmospheric American film tries really hard to be Canadian
in more than just title. Taking a page from Canadian history (when Sioux
Indians fled into Canada after Little Big Horn) the story concerns a Mountie
(Ryan) trying to maintain the peace -- not easy to do when some redneck
Americans are hot on the heels of the Sioux. Surprisingly thoughtful, and
sympathetic to the Indians (every generation seems to feel they're the
first to be sympathetic -- the "Dances With Wolves" crowd forgetting "Little
Big Man", etc.). With Ryan as the stereotypical stoic, decent Mountie,
and a scene with a Canadian character describing the differences between
Canadians and Americans, you'd swear this was written by a Canadian. Even
a scene of cowboys in the middle of nowhere, looking up from their campfire
to see Ryan looming over them from out of nowhere, plays into Mountie archetypes.
This was the first movie written and directed by long-time western director,
Captains of the Clouds (USA)
(1942) James Cagney.....World War II drama about pilots in the Canadian
air force. Thanks to an e-mailer for suggesting this one.
Circle of Deception (British)
(1961) Bradford Dillman, Suzy Parker, Harry Andrews.....W.W. II espionage
about Canadian soldier Dillman sent behind enemy lines, unaware that his
British superiors want him to fail.
Collateral Damage (USA)
(2002) Arnold Schwarzenegger.....Usual, big-budget Arnold actioner, with
him as a guy who sets out to get revenge against a Columbian terrorist
who killed his family. Apparently John Turturro, in a supporting part,
plays a villainous Canadian. Canadian Elias Koteas also appears in the
(1945) Dick Powell.....Suspense film with Powell as a Canadian in Beunos
Aires seeking the murderer of his wife. Thanks to a Guestbook signer for
mentioning this one.
Corvette K-225 (USA)
(1943) Randolph Scott, James Brown, Ella Raines....War flick about the
exploits of a ship in the Canadian navy.
The Country Doctor (USA)
(1936) Jean Hersholt.....Early take on the story of the Dionne Quintuplets
(and one assumes, rather fictionalized). Thanks to an e-mailer for reminding
me about this one. Canadians themselves tackled the story decades later
in the more cynical Million Dollar Babies.
The Curve (USA)
(1997) Matthew Lillard, Keri Russell.....Quirky thriller about American
university students who plot to murder their roommate to take advantage
of a clause that says if their roomate kills himself, they automatically
get a passing grade. Canadian actress Tamara Craig Thomas is in
the cast...and actually plays a Canadian. Go figure. Actually, one of the
production companies involved is Mount Royal, which sounds like a Canadian
company...but the very fact that it sounds Canadian makes me suspect
Death Hunt (USA)
(1981) Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson.....Adventure-drama set in northern
Canada in 1932, has Bronson playing real life Albert Johnson, the almost
superhuman "Mad Trapper", and Marvin as world weary mountie Edgar Millen
who reluctantly forms a posse to go after Johnson after he kills a man
in self-defense. What's odd about this true story saga is how it's a mix
of genuine fact (even some of the more outrageous scenes: like Johnson
emerging unscathed, guns blazing, from the wreck of his dynamited cabin)
with utter distortions, like Johnson as a misunderstood individualist as
opposed to, well, a madman, relocating the story from the North West Territories
to the Yukon, even changing Millen's rank. Filmed in Canada with plenty
of Canadians in supporting roles, including Scott Hylands in a part inspired
by (without actually being) famed Canadian bush pilot "Wop" May. In many
respects, it seems like a movie that would've been more at home coming
out in the early seventies.
Death Warrant (USA)
(1990) Jean-Claude Van Damme.....Action movie star Van Damme plays a Mountie
who goes under cover in a tough prison in this action flick. Thanks to
a guy who signed the Guestbook for reminding me about this one. Actually,
one movie book listed this as a Canadian movie, but I don't think it is.
Desperate Search (USA)
(1952).....Drama about the search for a couple of kids lost in the Canadian
wilderness. Thanks to an e-mailer for suggesting this one.
(1999) Kevin Pollack, Timothy Hutton......Minamalist thriller starts out
intriguing -- a U.S. president is snowed in at a Colorado diner and must
deal with a looming nuclear crisis involving Iraq. Maybe intended as a
right wing response to past movies like "Fail Safe", or something, but
ethics aside, the movie blows all its early tension and interesting ideas
with one ludicrous idea after another, culminating in a truly goofy, preposterous
ending, where the writer-director performs an intellectual shellgame so
that, by the end, he's hoping you've forgotten that the original moral
question was whether the president has the right to nuke millions
of civilians. A cartoon-version of earlier, thinking man's thrillers where
you can't even debate the moral pros and cons since the solution has so
little connection to reality! A waitress in the diner is supposed to be
French-Canadian (though her accent is pretty bizarre).
The Devil's Brigade (USA)
(1968) William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards.....Yet another World
War II flick. Basically a "Dirty Dozen" type film, except it was based
(at least somewhat) on fact, about a joint U.S.-Canadian commando group.
Robertson played the leader of the Canadians. The Canadians were portrayed
as clean-cut, the Americans as rough-and-tumble, but the intentions were
sympathetic. Basically it was the same archetypes as later fueled the TV
series Due South (including to the point of
the Canadians seeming almost superhuman).
(1999) Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd.....Story of an ex-boxer, recovering from
a stroke, who takes a road trip with his estranged son and grandson from
Canada through the United States. Trivia note: Aykroyd's Canadian.
Dr. Bell and Mr. Doyle: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (U.K.)
(2000) Ian Richardson.....TV movie pilot to a brief series of mystery TV movies -- mainly fiction, but inspired by the fact that the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle (here played by Robin Laing) had been the assistant to Dr. Joseph Bell (Richardson), a part time police forensics consultant who Doyle himself claimed had been the model for Holmes. In the first of the movies, a pivotal supporting character is from Canada...though the filmmakers themselves seem a bit muddled about the difference between Canada and the United States, making references that are more clearly American than Canadian! The subsequent TV movies were aired under the umbrella title of "Murder Rooms".
The Doomsday Gun (USA)
(1994) Frank Langella, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey.....Langella stars as real-life
Canadian weapons designer Dr. Gerald Bull who worked, variously, for the
Canadian government, the American CIA, South Africa and Iraq -- for the
latter attempting to build a giant super gun -- and his eventual assassination.
As always with movies "based on true stories", how accurate it is, particularly
in dicey political areas and who really did what, I'm in no position to
comment on (particularly since I haven't seen the film!).
Dudley Do-Right (USA)
(1999) Brendan Fraser, Alfred Mollina, Sarah Jessica Parker.....Live-action
comedy based on the old cartoon about the dim-witted but noble-hearted
Canadian mountie. A curious film, but if you stick with it past the first
twenty minutes or so, it's sort of amusing. Actor Fraser is actually part
Canadian and I assume the movie was filmed in B.C., because you can recognize
a few Canadian actors in bit parts.
The English Patient (USA/British)
(1997) Ralph Fiennes, Kristen Scott-Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem
DaFoe, Naveen Andrews.....Reactions seem to run really hot or cold for
this hugely successful, but slow-moving adaptation of Canadian Michael
Ondaatje's war-time romance (including scoring a few Oscars) set partially
at a Canadian field hospital in North Africa. People either love it or
utterly loathe it. Apparently Fiennes character was loosely inspired by
a real person. Binoche (who I think received a Best Supporting Actress
Oscar), DaFoe, Andrews and others play Canadian characters. Canadian actors
have bit parts at the hospital including Torri Higginson and Geordie Johnson.
Evil in Clear River (USA)
(1988) Lindsay Wagner, Randy Quaid.....American TV movie inspired by Canadian
fact, about a respected, much loved small town Alberta school teacher (Quaid)
who one parent (Wagner) learns is teaching anti-Semitism in his class...and
of her up-hill fight to get anyone to do anything about it. Similar subject
matter feuled the Canadian-made short drama, Oakmount
From Russia With Love
see James Bond
La Fidelite (France)
(2000) Sophie Marceau......Story about infidelity revolving around a French
reporter who works for a tabloid...the publisher of which is a Canadian
press baron. (thanks to someone who signed the Guestbook for this one)
Fiend Without a Face (USA)
(1958) Marshall Thompson.....50's horror thriller about brain-sucking creatures
on a Canadian Air Force base. Thanks to a Guestbook signing for this one
(actually, I think a couple of people mentioned this).
The Fire Next Time (USA)
(1993) Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia.....TV movie about a U.S. couple
who trek to Canada after an ecological disaster in the future (presumably
not much of the movie takes place in Canada, so much as Canada is their
The First Time (USA)
(1969) Story about some young American (male) virgins coming to Niagara Falls for a good time and hooking up with Jacqueline Bisset playing a go-go dancer. Thanks to the prolific Will Thomas for suggesting this one.
The Fly (USA)
(1958) Al Hedison (a.k.a. David Hedison), Patricia Owens, Vincent Price,
Return of the Fly (USA)
(1959) Vincent Price, Brett Halsey,
Curse of the Fly (British)
(1965) Brian Donlevy, Carole Gray, George Baker, Burt Kwouk,
Trio of horror-thrillers all set in Montreal, Canada about scientific
misadventures involving experiments with teleportation plaguing more than
one generation of the Delambre family. In the first, a semi-classic, the
scientist is accidentally merged with a house fly. The second isn't as
well regarded, but still has its effective moments, chronicling the son's
attempts to follow in his dad's footsteps...with equally disastrous results.
The final, a British effort, is less appreciated, but there's still some
fun in this more complex, gothic-style effort in which there's far more
going on than just switching genes with flies. And now for a little
insight into Canadian character: The first two movies were American,
the third British, and all were set in Canada and, as noted, the first
is something of a minor classic. Yet when Canadian director David Cronenberg
remade the film in the 1980s, and was even filming it in Canada...he set
his version in the United States!!! Sheesh!
Fly Away Home (USA)
(1996) Anna Paquin, Jeff Daniels.....Inspired by the true story of Canadian
Bill Lishman who, looking after orphaned Canada Geese, had to actually
teach them how to fly (by designing a light-weight aircraft so that he
could fly with them). Heavily fictionalized, with the names changed and
Paquin added as the inventor's daughter who comes to live with him after
her mother's death. But it still takes place in Canada. New Zealand actress
Paquin was born in Canada.
The 49th Parallel (British)
(1941) Eric Portman, Laurence Oliver.....Well regarded war flick about
a German U-boat coming aground on Canadian shores. Olivier plays a French-Canadian
woodsman -- his accent isn't great, but, by golly, he actually tries for
a French-Canadian accent, rather than just a standard French-European
French Kiss (USA)
(1995) Meg Ryan, Kevin Kline, Timothy Hutton.....Romantic comedy (and commercial
hit) has American Ryan, all set to become a Canadian citizen to marry her
Canadian sweetheart Hutton, only to have Hutton dump her and run off to
France. Ryan follows, only to hook up with rougish Frenchman Kline to help
her win back her beau (but, of course, we know who she's really
going to fall for). What's intriguing about this Hollywood film (written
by Adam Brooks -- I believe a Canadian) is how unabashed it is about its
Canadian element. I mean, an American heroine who's planning to
become a Canadian? (Leading to a funny scene with Ryan at the Canadian
embassy in France with Canadian actor Michael Riley as an embassy official).
And it was a hit...kind of belying the Canadian-held notion that mainstream
American and international audiences will run away from anything that has
even a whiff of Canadianess about it.
see James Bond
The Grasshopper (USA)
(1970) Jacqueline Bissett, Jim Brown, Joseph Cotton.....Melodrama in the Jacqueline Susann mold about a B.C. girl (Bissett) who moves to L.A. and encounters various ups and downs...including prostitution! Thanks to Will Thomas for suggesting this.
Grave of the Gunfighter (Italy/Spain)
(1966) George Martin.....Spaghetti western set in Canada. Thanks to someone
who signed the Guestbook for suggesting this one.
The Great Jewel Robber (USA)
(1950) David Brian, Marjorie Reynolds.....Drama about a jewel robber (obviously!) based on the real life Canadian-born Gerard Dennis. Thanks to Will Thomas for mentioning this one.
The Happy Time (USA)
(1952) Charles Boyer, Bobby Driscoll.....Well-regarded comedy about an
family and coming of age in 1920s Ottawa, based on a play by
Samuel A. Taylor which was based on stories by Robert Fontaine. Thanks
to an e-mailer for memtioning this one.
Hope and Glory (UK)
(1987) Sarah Miles.....Critically acclaimed coming of age reminiscence
set in England during World War II. A couple of Canadian characters crop
up in supporting parts. Thanks to an e-mailer for suggesting this one (the
same e-mailer who suggested Happy Time above).
Hotel Rwanda (USA)
(2004) Don Cheadle, Nick Nolte.....Critically acclaimed true story of a
hotel concierge in Rwanda who used his influence and connections to protect
people during the genocide in that country. Nolte plays a Canadian U.N.
general, presumably inspired by real life Romeo Dallaire.
The Hound of the Baskervilles
There have been many, many versions of this Sherlock Holmes story over
the years. In the novel, detectives Holmes and Watson help a Canadian heir
to an English estate solve the mystery of a family curse. So, in any version
that is reasonably faithful to the novel, a pivotal character will be Canadian.
Also made as a Canadian movie (see my main listings for that). And see
also The Scarlet Claw (on the next page)
The Hurricane (USA)
(2000) Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber.....True story in which Washington
stars as American boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter who spent decades in a
U.S. prison for a murder he didn't commit, and was eventually exonerated,
in part, through the actions of a group of Canadians. Directed by Canadian
Norman Jewison. Trivia note: Carter moved to Canada after his release.
on to I - Z
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