The Grey Fox (1982)

“In 1901, after 33 years in San Quentin, Bill Miner ‘The Gentleman Bandit,’ was released into the Twentieth Century.” A low-key, brilliantly acted Canadian production, The Grey Fox is based on the life of legendary stagecoach robber Bill Miner, who reportedly attempted Canada’s first-ever train robbery in 1904, The Grey Fox stars Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story), who turns in a brilliant, naturalistic performance. In the film, Miner wanders around aimlessly in British Columbia after his release from prison until he watches Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903) and gets inspired to pull one last heist. Directed by Phillip Borsos (The Mean Season), The Grey Fox also stars Jackie Burroughs as “Katherine Flynn,” Wayne Robson as “Shorty Dunn” and Ken Pogue as “Jack Budd.” The real-life Miner (1847-1913) reportedly originated the phrase “Hands up!” during robberies. He is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville, Georgia. The film captured seven Genie Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Foreign Actor (Farnsworth), Best Supporting Actress (Burroughs), Best Original Screenplay (John Hunter), Best Art Direction (Bill Brodie) and Best Musical Score (Michael Conway Baker). Good luck finding The Grey Fox, a truly hidden treasure (it’s not even available on DVD as far as I know). Farnsworth started his film career as a stuntman, appearing in such classic films as A Day at the Races (1937), Gunga Din (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Outlaw (1943), Duel in the Sun (1946) and Red River (1948), among many others According to a Richard Farnsworth superfan known only as “Philo” – “I first saw Farnsworth when he gave a helluva performance in this sleeper. A helluva actor, Farnsworth. Wish he had made more films.”

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