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Film / The Grey Fox

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The Grey Fox is a 1982 Canadian biographical Western film directed by Philip Borsos and starring Richard Farnsworth, Jackie Burroughs, and Wayne Robson. It is based on the true story of Bill Miner, an American stagecoach robber who staged Canada's first train robbery on September 10, 1904.

After his release from prison in 1901, Miner (Farnsworth) wanders around, a man out of place in the new century, until he sees one of the first films, The Great Train Robbery, and is inspired to copy it in real life. After a couple unsuccessful attempts, he successfully robs a train and hides from the law in a mining town in British Columbia, becoming a respectable resident. There, he meets and falls in love with early feminist and photographer Katherine Flynn (Burroughs). He considers settling down with her, but one last robbery proves to be his downfall.

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This film includes examples of the following:

  • Bolivian Army Ending: Miner is arrested a second time and extradited to the U.S. for his prison sentence, but escapes and is never seen again afterwards, leaving his eventual fate unknown.
  • But Now I Must Go: Once Miner realizes the local police are on his tail, he is forced to flee from Kamloops, bidding farewell to Kate.
  • Canada, Eh?: The majority of the film takes place in the town (now city) of Kamloops in British Columbia or the vicinity thereof. References are also made to the cities of Montreal and Winnipeg, and the North-West Mounted Police, the predecessor to the modern-day Royal Canadian Mounted Police, appear in the film's climax.
  • Canadian Western: Based on the true story of the man who staged Canada's first train robbery.
  • Gentleman Thief: Bill Miner is a charming, rugged sort of fellow. His nickname is even "The Gentleman Bandit".
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  • Ill Man: Calhoun suffers from lung disease as a result of heavy exposure to coal dust in the local mine.
  • Odd Couple: Shorty is a meek, somewhat naïve simpleton. Miner is a quintessential Gentleman Thief. Together, they rob trains.
  • Regional Riff: The score heavily features traditional Irish music courtesy of folk musician Paddy Moloney and his band The Chieftains.
  • Retired Outlaw: Bill Miner is a former Wild West stagecoach robber who, after spending 33 years in prison, moves to a small town in British Columbia in the early 1900s to quietly spend the rest of his life as a law-abiding citizen. However, while there are no more stagecoaches to rob, trains soon prove to be an all-too-tempting target for the restless retired outlaw.
  • Run for the Border: After his first successful robbery, Miner flees to the Canadian border in order to escape prosecution. Once in Canada, he settles in the town of Kamloops, BC, adopting the pseudonym of "George Edwards".
  • Scenery Porn: There are some very nice shots of the BC countryside.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Averted with Kate, who is clearly committed to the cause of feminism and human rights, but is never presented as overbearing or misguided.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: The editor of the local newspaper subscribes to this mindset with regards to Kate, and refuses to publish her article. Immediately, she treats him to an understated but well-deserved "Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Twilight of the Old West: Takes place in 1904.


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