The Grey Fox Image

The Grey Fox

By Alex Saveliev | September 8, 2020

NEW TO VOD! Widely heralded as a masterwork, and one of the best Canadian films of all time, Phillip Borsos’s The Grey Fox remains as eloquent, relevant, and powerful 38 years after its release. Recently the movie received a tasteful facelift. The 4K restoration preserves the original 35mm print’s graininess while accentuating the vibrant colors, deepening the shadows and sharpening the features on its hero’s chiseled face.

The hero in question is real-life criminal Bill Miner (Richard Farnsworth), nicknamed “The Gentleman Bandit,” who was responsible for “twenty-six daring stagecoach robberies in Colorado, California, and Utah,” before being apprehended. After three decades, Bill is released into the new world of 1901. All the technological advances, such as a little gizmo from San Francisco that peels apples, don’t impress Bill. He yearns to get back in the saddle.

“…with newly-formed accomplices…delves back into the world of crime…Bill’s upgraded to robbing trains.”

Living with his sister Jenny (Samantha Langevin), and her husband Tom (Tom Heaton) ain’t for Bill. Neither is oyster pickin’. He’s an old-school renegade at heart, refusing to work for anybody. Together with newly-formed accomplices, Shorty Dunn (Wayne Robson) and Louis (David Petersen), he delves back into the world of crime, doing what he’s always done best, but instead of stagecoaches, Bill’s upgraded to robbing trains. Now he must choose between a serene life in a lovely town with the gramophone-obsessed Katherine (Jackie Burroughs), whom he loves, and doing the one thing that makes him him.

Katherine’s character is well ahead of her time, signifying the drastic paradigm shifts occurring at the turn of the century, and in the early 1980s when the film was released. Far from a typical damsel in distress, she is a fleshed-out character, a worldly opera appreciator, painter, and photographer. Moreover, she’s an activist and a feminist. “Much to my father’s dismay, I elected to make my own way in this world,” she tells a smitten Bill, who is a man of simpler tastes. When faced with a crucial choice towards the end of the film, Katherine opts for, yes, potentially reuniting with her man – but also for moving to a prospering city and opening up a successful business of her own. Burroughs makes sure to flesh out Katherine even further with charisma and small nuances. Such subversive female characters are still few and far between.

The Grey Fox (1982)

Directed: Phillip Borsos

Written: John Hunter

Starring: Richard Farnsworth, Jackie Burroughs, Wayne Robson, Timothy Webber, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Grey Fox Image

"…the 4K restoration highlights Frank Tidy's stunning cinematography."

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  1. Frankie says:

    I’ve been searching the internet for “The Grey Fox” for some time now. Do you know where I can purchase it from.

    • Alan Ng says:

      You can stream it online at the website of your local art cinema. I believe Kino Lorber’s website has a complete list.

  2. helen says:

    Wow, such a complimentary review, the movie must be really worth watching. We are missing good old school, professionalism and quality in every branch, in cinematoraphy as well.

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