When the late John Candy came to Niagara Falls for his final film


Published April 24, 2023 at 4:20 pm

John Candy, director Michael Moore and Rhea Perlman survey the scene while filming "Canadian Bacon" in 1994. (Photo: Niagara Falls Public Library)

The Michael Moore comedy, Canadian Bacon, while very much a box office bomb after its release in 1995, certainly has some heavyweight Hollywood names despite its modest $11 million budget.

With stars like John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Alan Alda, Kevin Pollak and Rip Torn, all huge names at the time, it even featured an uncredited cameo from Dan Aykroyd and provided Niagara Falls on the Canadian side as a backdrop.

Grossing just $178,104 at the box office, it was the final release for Candy, who died on March 4, 1994 and the only non-documentary ever made by Moore.

The premise is certainly “border”-line silly. An American president’s (Alda) peacetime approval ratings are so abysmal, he tries to goad Russia into a war. When the Russian President shrugs off any possibility of a renewed Cold War between the countries, the president expresses his frustration to his inner circle, which includes corrupt cabinet member Stu Smiley (Pollak).

A candid shot of John Candy between scenes at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena.

At exactly the same time, Niagara Falls, New York sheriff Bud Boomer (Candy) is on the Canadian side of the Falls, watching his American team play against the “Ontario Beavers” hockey squad at the actual Niagara Falls Memorial Arena.

While watching the game, Boomer loudly criticizes Canadian beer, which triggers a huge brawl at the arena. The donnybrook actually makes the news, which gives Smiley the idea of creating a war against Canada.

With Smiley masterminding it, slowly but surely, commercials and newscasts start trumpeting anti-Canadian propaganda, using footage of Mounties and the like, calling them the “invading forces.”

On the New York side, believing the propaganda and getting caught up in a xenophobic hysteria, Boomer and his deputy sheriff-girlfriend Honey (Perlman) start to create their own militia to invade Canada. Wielding machine guns, they organize a vigilante invasion crossing the border that could trigger a real war with America’s neighbor to the north.

John Candy and Dan Aykroyd playing an OPP officer between scenes.

Initially, they don’t get very far as Aykroyd playing an OPP officer stops them when he see their truck, painted with anti-Canadian slogans. As it turns out, Aykroyd doesn’t stop them because of the offensive slurs on Boomer’s truck. No, it turns out the real offence is that they’re only painted in English and not French, as well.

Aykroyd’s cop explains that not including the French will cost Boomer $1,000 Canadian… or $10 American.

Despite the ridiculous premise (although former Fox-TV commentator Tucker Carlson has said on-air that the U.S. should “liberate” Canada), the film has some cult classic credo and shows Niagara Falls in all its glory.

For the record, when the actors who played cops breaking up the brawl at the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena, they did, in fact, wear actual Niagara Regional Police uniforms for those scenes.

A candid shot of Candy at Niagara Falls when he was 18 years old.

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