The 1988 thriller that saw Sidney Poitier chase a villain on a B.C. ferry – and saw B.C. play itself

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As tributes pour in after the death of actor Sidney Poitier, the star is remembered for his poignant dramatic performances and pioneering work as a black leader in predominantly white Hollywood.

Poitier is remembered by many for his historic Oscar for Field lilies, and for performances in films that challenged American racism such as Guess who’s coming to dinner and Heat of the night.

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However, many may not be aware that the star appeared in a film that was shot and partially filmed in the city of Vancouver and the surrounding area – and which (spoiler) includes an exciting climax on a BC ferry at the terminal of Tsawwassen ferry.

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The movie was from the years 1988 Shoot to kill, and played Poitier in his first role in over a decade as an FBI agent chasing a murderer in the rugged mountains of British Columbia. The co-stars of the film directed by Roger Spottiswoode included Tom Berenger and Kirstie Alley.

A 1988 article in Leigh Valley, Pennsylvania Morning call The newspaper offers a glimpse of what this shoot – years before British Columbia cemented its reputation as “Hollywood North” – was.

After a series of tough shoots near Hope in the Coquihalla Canyon and nearby mountains – Poitier and Bérenger did a lot of their own stunts – the actor joked that he had become “a considerable enemy of the world. ‘mountaineering,’ according to the report.

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“All the stuff – running on top of that mountain – I did all that, and I was in great shape before the movie started,” he added. “I was a wreck by the time the photo was finished.”

A streak was so rugged and remote that Poitier, Bérenger and the crew had to be helicoptered to the top of a mountain as the area had no road access.

“There were no roads. The snow is on the ground. On the side of the summit there was blue ice, ”he said.

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Actor and cinema pioneer Sidney Poitier dies at 94


Actor and cinema pioneer Sidney Poitier dies at 94

While the sequence was supposed to be a three-day shoot, Poitier unplugged after a, according to the Morning call report.

“I refused to go back because I thought it was a really dangerous situation. And I also thought the altitude was such as to run and jump and do some pretty physical things up there – I was way too old for that stuff. We finished filming on a sound stage in Vancouver.

In addition to the remote and high altitude shoots, Poitier and the film crew had to contend with grizzly bears, which are said to have come down to their homes each morning.

Despite the hardships, Poitier seems to have been impressed by the natural beauty of the province.

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“It’s good to be there because you become, over time, tuned in to another beat, and that’s the natural beat. There is a natural rhythm emitted by trees, insects and calm waters, ”he said.

“It’s a natural rhythm to which our primitive memory is more sensitive than it is to the urban clutter. You go into the woods and after a while you start to come to terms with this kind of intangible thing going on there. And that’s good, because the artificiality of the rhythm in a large urban area is not necessarily good for us. Look what it does to us.


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Squamish, Buntzen Lake, and Nairn Falls Provincial Park are other notable locations in the film, as well as Casa Mia in Vancouver (a mansion being converted into a long-term care facility), British Properties in West Vancouver, and Robson Square. .

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The film even includes an appearance of a fictional portrayal of the Vancouver Police Department.

While the film is unlikely to top Poitier’s iconic performance list, it was a box office success, earning over $ 29 million. It has also been well received by critics and holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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