Posts Tagged ‘Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster’


edwin-boyd-1“Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster” is so steeped in Canadiana even Lorne Greene makes an appearance. Viewers of a certain age will remember Greene as the Voice of Doom during World War II CBC broadcasts, and Torontonians might remember his acting school on Jarvis Street. Both aspects of Greene’s career are represented in this crime drama, and they are just two of the details that help this period piece establish a convincing sense of time and place.

Scott Speedman plays Edwin Boyd, a disillusioned World War II veteran and legendary bank robber who, along with his gang—the muscle bound Lenny (Kevin Durand), and Val (Joseph Cross) and Willie the Clown (Brendan Fletcher)—became the Canadian equivalent of Public Enemy Number One after pulling off a series of brazen bank robberies and daring jail breaks.

“Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster” does a good job of showing how Boyd went from respectable veteran/bus driver/son of a cop to a fixture on the most wanted charts. It’s not the romp “Public Enemy” was, instead it’s a contemplative movie more about why Boyd robbed banks than the robberies themselves.

It nicely details how the combat fatigue and disappointment Boyd felt after coming home from war was alleviated by the adrenaline rush of robbing banks and how his need for acknowledgement—this is a man who wanted to be a Hollywood star—was fanned by newspaper reports of a “dashing” robber. He enjoyed his notoriety, as shown in one nicely written scene in the back of a police car.

“You’ve made my wife a happy woman,” says the arresting detective.

“Is she a fan?” Boyd replies.

“No, I’ll get home early for a change.”

Director and writer Nathan Morlando effectively paints a picture of Boyd as more a desperate man than folk hero and Speedman does good work exploring the troubled soul of a man forced by ego and circumstance into becoming a criminal.

“Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster” also does a nice job of recreating mid-century Toronto—complete with footage of Lorne Greene!—although modern telephone light poles are, apparently, the bane of low budget period pictures.

As a character study “Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster” succeeds—painting a vivid picture of desperation and determination-despite a few overwrought moments and a droopy midsection.

When art imitates life in Citizen Gangster By Richard Crouse May 10, 2012 Metro World News

edwin-boyd-3Kevin Durand left, says that he and co-star Scott Speedman had a relationship similar to their characters.

On the set of Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster art imitated life.

The story of legendary Canadian bank robbers Edwin Boyd and Lenny Jackson is ripe with daring stick-ups, jailbreaks and gunfights, but despite a criminal partnership that made both men household names they weren’t close.

“On a personal level I don’t think there was a whole lot of love there,” says Kevin Durand, who plays Jackson in the film.

“They dealt with things in a different way. Lenny and Edwin had very different ways of approaching their job.”

Durand and co-star Scott Speedman, who plays Boyd, manifested that aloofness to create their characters on the Sault Ste. Marie set.

“We definitely had respect for one another and we liked each other but we didn’t go out of our way to hang out together,” Durand says.

“It was interesting in the way it panned out because I ended up spending a lot of time with Val and Wille,  (Joseph Cross and Brendan Fletcher). Those were my guys and we literally became the gang. It was incredible because we were holed up in the north, in the cold, in our little hotel rooms and we became this little tribe of … I want to say thieves but we didn’t go thieving, but it felt very real.”

The story may have come to life for Durand on set, but he was unaware of the Boyd Gang’s exploits before he read the script. “I was really taken aback at how famous they were to another generation,” he says. “My Uncle Tom filled me in at a discussion at a family dinner. He knew all about it and was really excited about me playing Lenny.”

His uncle vividly remembered the gang’s early fifties heyday. “My uncle said, ‘My God, we were so terrified. I remember hiding in my bedroom hoping that the Boyd Gang wasn’t going to come in my window and rob me and kill me.’”

Lenny and Edwin may have been bad guys, but that’s not exactly how Durand sees them.

“The thing about these guys, like most bad guys, is that they are human and they are a product of their environment and their time,” he says. “You see them in the movie with their loved ones and you see the poetry of their lives.”