Reel Beach: Vintage vehicles help to set the mood in period productions filmed in East Toronto

Photo above shows a 1947 Cadillac Fastback that was among a number of vintage vehicles in the Dawes Road Cemetery south of St. Clair Avenue for filming the series Fellow Travelers. Photo by Bernie Fletcher.


Whether you are a car buff or just like the look of vintage vehicles you will enjoy the Community Centre 55’s Annual Classic Car Show at Bob Acton Park on Sunday, Oct. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These beautiful wheels evoke a by-gone era and tap into our nostalgia for simpler times. Admission is free!

Vintage cars, costumes and props help set the mood for period pieces. Some new made-in-Toronto productions re-create different eras from the 1950s to the present day.

Priscilla opened at the Venice Film Festival this week and will be out in theatres on Oct. 27.

After the big success of Elvis last year, Priscilla tells the story of fame, romance and turbulent marriage from the viewpoint of Priscilla Presley based on her 1985 memoir Elvis and Me.

Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Sofia Coppola wrote on Instagram that she is “excited to be telling Priscilla’s story. I think it’ll be interesting to have two completely different interpretations of the same events and time period.” Coppola was “trying to imagine what growing up in that world must have looked like through her eyes.”

“I lived somebody else’s life.” (Priscilla at the time of their divorce in 1973.)

The film follows Priscilla’s life from the ages of 15 to 27. Expect to see some luxury cars from the 1950s and 1960s, including Cadillacs and a Mercedes Benz 600 limousine.

“You may have a pink Cadillac, but don’t you be nobody’s fool.” (1955 Elvis song)

Graceland was re-created at the Tamahaac Club in Ancaster under the lead of production designer Tamara Deverell who was Oscar-nominated last year for her great work on Nightmare Alley with scenes of 1940s cars at R.C. Harris Filtration Plant and at Parkwood Estate in Oshawa.

Also out on Oct. 27 is Fellow Travelers an episodic romance and political thriller set in Washington D.C. over four decades against the backdrop of the 1950s McCarthy era, the war in Vietnam and the AIDS crisis. The eight-part Showtime/Paramount series is adapted from a 2007 Thomas Mallon novel and stars Jonathan Bailey (Bridgerton) and Matt Bomer as two gay men forced to lead double lives complicated by real-life events.

Some amazing wheels are featured in scenes at Dawes Road Cemetery on St. Clair Avenue East (photos above). Almost all are “picture cars” for filming except for one gorgeous 1947 Cadillac Fastback. The owner told me he was at a car show and was asked to come for the film shoot. Some agencies attend classic car shows hunting for special vehicles.

Two 1970s-era Ford police cars were on Danforth Avenue near Monarch Park Avenue for scenes depicting protests with extras dressed as “hippies.”

Other new period shows filmed here include Painkiller (Netflix), the fictionalized account of the 1990s origins of the deadly opioid crisis with the mega mansion of a Big Pharma owner (Matthew Broderick) and his “drug pushers” driving Porsches.

You might have seen a D.C. police car parked on Gerrard Street East when Hollywood came to Hollywood Crescent (near Bowmore Road) for the Amazon detective series Cross from the novels of James Patterson.

There’s also been filming for an HBO It prequel set in the 1960s called Welcome to Derry with locations in Port Hope and the old Hearn Generating Station on Unwin Avenue.

You may also have wondered why there was a New York City subway entrance, taxi cab and fake snow on Eastern Avenue near Woodbine Park. That was for a new Hulu comedy How to Die Alone. Watch for a cameo from Beacher Peter Keleghan.

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