There’s one good thing about the end of Honest Ed’s: midtown is reaping the spoils of some of the niche stores like the Hollywood Canteen.
Hollywood Canteen was previously found in Mirvish Village, right on Markham Street, but new development forced owner Mike Orlando and partner Ted Wright to settle down beside the Regent Theatre at Mount Pleasant Road and Belsize Drive back in November.
While I was coming home one night along the road, the moonlight trickled into the front of the store and staring back at me was Lana Turner on an old poster of A Life of Her Own.
It piqued my interest because I have an affinity for the old films. Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and Gilda are personal faves. I know, they’re all noir, but that’s what makes the old Black and Whites so charming.
The Hollywood Canteen also reminded me of my friend Kevin Burke’s recent documentary, 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters. He put together an impressive account of the movie industry’s artists who sketched some of the famous ones like Star Wars, Blade Runner and Jaws. Thank Drew Struzan, John Alvin and Roger Kastel for those.
The history of the Canteen however, is rooted in the Beaches and Danforth back in 1980 to 1984. Orlando was a big film buff and had opened up a shop back in the day. Along with the Mount Pleasant store, the flagship is located on the Danforth, just east of Coxwell.
Now, movie paraphernalia isn’t the only collectible found in the shop on Mount Pleasant, as Ted Wright is surrounded by his stamps. Wright was kind of to take me on a tour of the modest digs that includes quite the library of film books downstairs.
While sipping on a coke, he shared his affinity for the silver screen. He shared a mutual interest in the history of film from that era. Names like Kate Hepburn, Vivien Leigh and Marlene Dietrich jump off the shelf at me.
I spy a book on Natalie Wood, and think of my father’s first celebrity crush, or at least the one he shared with me.
There’s a lot of movie history in this small little office on Mount Pleasant. And even though it doesn’t have the extensive cache of posters like the Hollywood Canteen on the Danforth, it’s definitely worth the visit for any film buff. I remember my ventures into the city from Whitby as a teen, meeting up with my buddy in Newtonbrook and then heading on the bus to the Movie Poster Warehouse on Leslie Street.
“They don’t make as many posters of movies as they used to,” Wright told me, as he flipped through old promotional photos of Alec Baldwin, Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood.
At the end of my visit, I picked up an autobiography on Ava Gardner. What can I say, when it comes to the Golden Age, it’s an easy sell.
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