Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster

Edwin Alonzo Boyd  was a Canadian gangster and folk hero famous for his bank robbing exploits during the 1950s. The 2012 movie Edwin Boyd : Citizen Gangster was written and directed by Nathan Morlando, the film stars Scott Speedman as Boyd also includes Kelly Reilly, Brendan Fletcher, Kevin Durand and Charlotte Sullivan. Boyd was something of a folk hero in Toronto in the 1950s, a charismatic figure who dominated the media coverage for years — that meant newspapers and radio broadcasts, in those days.

Edwin Boyd was born on April 2, 1914 and was a second World War veteran, following in the footsteps of his father who fought in the first one. Post returning from the war, father of 2 young kids Eddie is working as a bus driver in Toronto. His dream however is to be an actor. We see him spending time with his wife and kids and being the family man. One day after he helps a wheelchair ridden man, Boyd throws his hat and leaves his job. Despite criticism from his father, who is now a police man, he then tries to meet up Lorne Green at the latter’s acting school but is told to sign up for classes which cost him money he can’t afford. To provide for his British war bride wife Doreen and his 2 kids, he robs a bank disguising himself with makeup. He buys a new car and buys things for his family, telling his wife that he got an acting job.

However she catches him removing the makeup and he confesses to her. After a few more heists he becomes a local celebrity and is soon caught by the cops. Boyd’s renown really takes off when he is finally captured and jailed and meets some new friends behind bars, mostly Lenny Jackson (the imposing Kevin Durand), a fellow veteran with a prosthetic foot in which he hides the hacksaw blades he needs to escape. Another experienced bank robber, Willie Jackson, aka “The Clown” also joins the two and they escape via the bars of the jail. They met a friend, Valent Lesso from Cochrane, one of the violent members of Lennie Jackson’s original gang, and the four became a team. Lesso was a talented musician who couldn’t find work; he changed his name to Steve Suchan and became a bank robber. The 4 soon become what will be known as the Boyd Gang and pull off several heists and live the high live with their respective lovers. Eddie becomes famous for his jumping over counters, moving quickly, and carrying a gun and also charming the women in the banks that the group steals from.

Things go sour when a drunk Willie is caught by the cops and thrown in jail. Suchan and Lennie Jackson working on their own end up in  a gun fight with a couple of cops kill a detective. They were later wounded and captured in a gun fight and ended up again in the Don Jail, charged with murder. Once again the 4 escape from the jail but using tips from a passerby, the cops finally catch the rest of the team, without Boyd, in a barn and are taken to jail. At the crack of dawn the police crept inside a house rent by Boyd’s brother that they had on surveillance and capture Boyd and his wife while they were still in bed. Steve Suchan and Lennie Jackson were sentenced to death for killing Detective Tong and were hanged back to back. Eddie got eight life sentences and Willie Jackson got thirty years. Willie Jackson and Eddie Boyd were both released in 1962. After his release he tries to reconnect with his now ex-wife but she has remarried and wants nothing to do with him. She however comforts him when her current husband throws Eddie out of the house viciously.

Eddie, under the name John, went to Victoria, British Columbia, where he drove a bus for disabled people and married a disabled woman whom he met on the bus. He took care of her for the next 35 years, until they went into a home. He was a pillar of the community and is given an award for his work, his past life being unknown to people there. What is not shown in the movie is that 2 months prior to his death, Boyd told a CBC producer that he had once killed a couple and left their bodies in the trunk of a car in High Park, Toronto years before his notoriety as a bank robber. The crime fits the September 11, 1947 murders of Iris Scott and George Vigus. Before a formal investigation into his confession could commence, on May 17, 2002, after a visit from his wife and his son, and a phone call from his former war bride and the mother of his three children, Edwin Alonzo Boyd died at age 88.

The movie suffers from the script which could have been a bit more elaborate and some dry spells which drag a bit but Speedman delivers his role of a lifetime in this movie and for that I have to award it high scores. A first time director also probably hindered what should have been a much bigger movie. 8 outta 10, mainly for the acting of Speedman, Kelly Reilly and  Kevin Durand.

2 thoughts on “Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster

  1. I had a problem with volume on the downloaded file I watched it. I’m gonna get the dvd once it is available here.

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