Restoration or not, the 1982 movie about the Gentleman Bandit is charming.
“The Grey Fox,” released in 1982 and nominated for two Golden Globes, has been given a 4K restoration online. It was the Canadian biopic that starred the late Richard Farnsworth in the Golden Globe nominated role of stagecoach robber Bill Miner (“The Gentleman Bandit”), who was released in prison in 1901, and staged Canada’s first train robbery. This is my first time seeing the movie for the record, especially since it was barely released on VHS and DVD.
After seeing “The Great Train Robbery,” Miner poses as George Edwards to copy the movie robbery in real life. It is true that people copy what they see on TV and in the movies.
He practically duped the people of a mining town of British Columbia that he is a different man. They would happen to include his new partner named Shorty (Wayne Robson), the young sergeant Fernie (Timothy Webber) and a feminist and photographer named Katherine Flynn (Jackie Burroughs). But a visiting detective (Gary Reineke) threatens his time there.
Even if this movie was made in 1982, I still think “The Grey Fox” has an old-fashioned western vibe that describes Bill Miner’s life outside of San Quentin and across the Canadian border. It’s not the action-packed western you’re normally used to; it’s a low-key and sentimental one about life and danger.
Farnsworth delivers a marvelous performance in the ways he convinces us he is Miner, and his mannerisms and dialogue help bring out the best of him. The real-life figure is a criminal, but he isn’t evil. Matter of fact, he was also known for being polite and less violent than most robbers.
And the supporting work from Burroughs is fine in the ways she connects with Miner’s false identity. Even if she is entitled to a small role, she still adds a passionate touch to the story, written by John Hunter.
You know my website motto: “I care less about the format, and more about whether the movie is good or not.” When you see the words 4K, don’t go expecting it to be digitally clear like today’s pictures. Expect it to have a fresh, clean look. Before this restoration, cinematographer Frank Tidy and director Phillip Borsos both provided lovely views of Canada, including the small town, the rivers, mines, forests, and landscapes. Even the people are placed in the right settings at the correct shots. And let’s not forget me gazing at the trains with delight.
“The Grey Fox” is from the past, so a whole new generation of movie goers probably haven’t heard of it. But if you’re into the nostalgia and have a real knack for viewing independent or cult movies, then this one should be right up your alley. And it’s mostly because of Farnsworth’s performance.
Available on The ShowRoom Cinema: Virtual Cinema Screenings