As tributes pour in after the death of actress Sidney Poitier, the star is remembered for his gripping dramatic performances and his groundbreaking work as a sort of leading man in a mostly white Hollywood.
Many remember Poitier for his story-making Oscar win too The lilies of the field, and for performances in films that challenged American racism such as Guess who’s coming to dinner and The heat of the night.
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Many may not know that the star appeared in a film that was both filmed and partially filmed in Vancouver City and the surrounding areas – and which (spoiler) includes an exciting final climax on a BC ferry at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.
The film was 1988s Shoot to kill, and starred Poitier in the first role for over a decade as an FBI agent pursuing a killer into the rugged mountains of BC. Co-stars in the Roger Spottiswoode-directed film included Tom Berenger and Kirstie Alley.
A 1988 article in Leigh Valley, Pennsylvania Morning cold the newspaper provides an insight into how it was filming – years before BC would cement its reputation as ‘Hollywood North’.
After a series of difficult shots near Hope in Coquihalla Canyon and nearby mountains – Poitier and Berenger did much of their own stunt work – the actor joked that he had become “a significant enemy of mountaineering,” according to the report.
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“All the things – running around on top of that mountain – I was doing all those things and I was in wonderful, good shape before the movie started,” he added. “I was a wreck when the picture was finished.”
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One sequence was so harsh and distant that Poitier, Berenger and the crew had to be helicoptered to a mountain top because the area had no road access.
“There were no roads. The snow is on the ground. Next to the top there was blue ice,” he said.
Actor and film pioneer Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94
While the sequence was intended to be a three-day recording, Poitier pulled the plug one by one, according to Morning cold report.
“I refused to go back because I thought it was a really dangerous situation. And I also thought the height was like running and jumping and doing pretty physical things up there – I was too old for that kind of thing. We finished filming on a Vancouver soundtrack. ”
Along with remote footage and high altitude, Poitier and the film crew had to contend with grizzly bears, who reportedly came down to their lodgings every morning.
Despite the hardships, Poitier seemed to have been impressed by the natural beauty of the province.
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“It’s good to be out there, because over time you get set to a different rhythm, and that’s the natural rhythm. There is a natural rhythm given off by trees and insects and still water, ”he said.
“It’s a natural rhythm that our original memory is more adapted to than it is to the clutter of cities. You go into the woods, and after a while you start to go with the kind of intangible things that go on there. And that is good, because the artificiality of the rhythm in a large urban area may not necessarily be good for us. See what it does to us. “
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Other notable locations in the film included Squamish, Buntzen Lake and Nairn Falls Provincial Park, along with Casa Mia in Vancouver (a mansion now being converted into a long-term care facility), West Vancouver’s British Properties and Robson Square.
The film even includes an appearance by a fictionalized representation of the Vancouver Police Department.
Although the film is unlikely to top any list of Poitier’s iconic performances, it was a hit and earned more than US $ 29 million. It was also critically well received and has a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
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