The Grey Fox

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The Grey Fox
The Grey Fox poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byPhillip Borsos
Written byJohn Hunter
Produced byPeter O'Brian
StarringRichard Farnsworth
Jackie Burroughs
Wayne Robson
Ken Pogue
CinematographyFrank Tidy
Edited byFrank Irvine
Music byMichael Conway Baker
Paddy Moloney (main theme)
Distributed byUnited Artists Classics
Release dates
  • 16 December 1982 (1982-12-16) (Canada)
  • 18 March 1983 (1983-03-18) (U.S.)
Running time
92 minutes

The Grey Fox is a 1982 Canadian biographical Western film directed by Phillip Borsos and written by John Hunter. It is based on the true story of Bill Miner, an American stagecoach robber who staged his first Canadian train robbery on 10 September 1904. The film stars Richard Farnsworth as Miner. The cast also features Jackie Burroughs, Ken Pogue, Wayne Robson, Gary Reineke and Timothy Webber.


Stagecoach robber Bill Miner is caught and sent to prison for 33 years. He is finally released in 1901. He 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. He considers settling down with her, but one last robbery proves to be his downfall. True to his nickname, the Grey Fox escapes from prison as the ending credits start.



According to Farnsworth, the "picture company" was the only one ever allowed to film at Fort Steele, British Columbia, a heritage site.[1] The Grey Fox was also filmed on the British Columbia Railway / Pacific Great Eastern Railway, now run by Canadian National Railway, between Pemberton and Lillooet, British Columbia, and the Lake Whatcom Railway between Wickersham and Park, Washington.[citation needed] The capture sequence was shot a quarter of a mile from where Miner was actually caught.[1]

Miner's gun, "a .41 Bisley Colt", was obtained from a collector and used by Farnsworth in close-ups.[1]


The Grey Fox has been designated and preserved as a "masterwork" by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of Canada’s audio-visual heritage.[2]

At the 4th Genie Awards in 1983, The Grey Fox was nominated for thirteen awards and won seven:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Borsos)
  • Best Foreign Actor (Farnsworth)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Burroughs)
  • Best Original Screenplay (Hunter)
  • Best Art Direction (Bill Brodie)
  • Best Musical Score (Michael Conway Baker)

Further recognition for Farnsworth included a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama.

It has also been listed in the Toronto International Film Festival's TIFF List of Canada's Top Ten Films of All Time in 1984 and 1993.

Critical reaction[edit]

Roger Ebert praised the film as "a lovely adventure" and gave it 312 stars.[3] Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rare 100% fresh rating.[4]

Restoration and re-release[edit]

The film underwent a 4K restoration and was re-released to theatres In April 2020.[5] It also saw its first official release to DVD and Blu-Ray, which included a commentary by filmmaker Alex Cox, interview with producer Peter O'Brian, and a featurette about the restoration.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Tibbetts, John C. (16 September 2015). Those Who Made It: Speaking with the Legends of Hollywood. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 63. ISBN 9781137541925. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Masterworks: The Grey Fox (1983)".
  3. ^ "The Grey Fox". 1 January 1982. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  4. ^ "The Grey Fox (1983)". Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  5. ^ "Restored Classic Western The Grey Fox Gallops to the aid of Indie Theatres Nationwide". Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  6. ^ "The Grey Fox (Special Edition) (Blu-Ray) (DVD)". Retrieved 11 July 2020.

External links[edit]