Dream On The Run (found Canadian crime film; 1977)

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Dream on the run poster.jpg

Promotional poster from TIFF's archive.

Status: Found

Date found: 01 Jun 2023

Found by: TemporaryStope, BrochJam, Ken Gord, QuickFox2013

Dream On The Run is a Canadian crime film directed by John Edwards which aired on Global TV on March 7th, 1977.[1][2] The film was a passion project and commercial endeavor of Edwards, with the main cast/crew consisting of Edwards, producer Ken Gord and actor Nicky Fylan. The film is attributed to Circle Productions, John Edwards' now-defunct production company. Failing to find investors, Edwards financed the movie himself, filming sporadically between 1973 and 1977.[3] This has led to different sources citing various release dates.[4][5]

The plot follows an ex-con who is struggling to go straight after getting out of prison, inspired by Edwards' own experiences living outside of the law. While promotional material, production stills and vinyl pressings of the soundtrack exist, the film itself was not public until 2023, with the Library and Archives of Canada holding the only known copy. The film was originally distributed on 16mm with a runtime of 82 minutes.


The following synopsis comes from a promotional poster made around the time of the film’s release.

“Trying to settle back into society after getting out of prison is not an easy thing. You can't count on anyone; you have to scramble for yourself.

When Jay gets out after several years in prison, the only person to greet him is Mickey, a small-time operator who has always skirted the edges of the law. Jay wants to go straight. But this time, doors close in his face. Once a con, always a con, or so it would seem.

Inevitably, Jay finds himself in the midst of a bad deal, guilty of another crime and chased by the loan shark who financed the entire operation.

Desperation boils over to the point where the man who wanted to go straight finds himself surrounded by the police, as he stands over two dead bodies.”

Interestingly, this summary refers to Nicky Fylan's character as "Mickey", whereas in the film itself, he is simply referred to as Nicky. All the characters go by the actors' actual names, save for John Edwards, who plays the character Jay Walsh.

According to producer Ken Gord, the movie had no script to speak of. The story is set in Toronto. The first half of the film follows Jay's struggles to find a "perfectly legit" job - he is very open about spending time behind bars, which causes him to get turned down from every job he applies for. He and Nicky attempt to hook up with some girls they meet at a bar, but Jay begins telling a story he heard in prison about a mentally ill inmate who attempted suicide and was subsequently revived several times, killing the mood.

Despite reconnecting with an old flame, Jay is convinced by Nicky to return to a life of crime and the two steal a car. They attempt to make a quick buck by kidnapping a wealthy singer (she is not home when they arrive, so they steal her dog instead), but it turns out the singer is friends with their former collaborator Jack, and they make no money from the stunt. The two convince Jack to finance a different heist, but when Jay and Nicky fail to get the goods, Jack and his men come after them. This culminates in a fight in South Humber Park, where Jay and Nicky, with the assistance of a random bystander who knows taekwondo, knock Jack and his henchmen out.

Jay and Nicky escape, but Jack eventually gets up and follows them. The ensuing car chase catches the attention of the police. The men drive out to a farm where Jay and Nicky hide. Nicky tries to knock out Jack from the hayloft but is fatally shot by Jack. Jay bludgeons Jack to death with a pitchfork and is caught standing over both the bodies when the police arrive.

The version of the film preserved is the version that aired on Global TV, including commercial breaks. The original edit of the film featured a different opening set at a parole board meeting and two sex scenes that were cut for TV - John Edwards mentioned in an interview that these sex scenes were included in an attempt to make the film more bankable.


The soundtrack for Dream On The Run was released as a vinyl LP and is currently available for second-hand purchase through various sellers. The album was distributed through Periwinkle Records, and is credited to the Toronto country rock band The Good The Bad and The Ugly.[6] The film's title comes from the 7th track on the album. Before this, the film's working title was Circles.

The soundtrack has since been digitized and all tracks are available through the Museum of Canadian Music's website.

The band themselves make a cameo in the film, performing at a bar that Jay and Nicky frequent. The image on the album cover comes from a scene in which Jay and Nicky get beat up by Jack and his goons; the hill in the image, now covered in trees, is located across from the Oculus Pavilion.


Soundtrack cover.

Dream On The Run was written and directed by John Edwards and Nicky Fylan (AKA Nicola Filazzola), and produced by Ken Gord. Edwards and Fylan also starred in leading roles, playing characters Jay Walsh and Nicky respectively. Other cast members included Gloria Gagnon as Gloria, Jack Lalonde as Jack, and Susan Minas. Editing and sound was done by Vince Hatherly, while photography was done by Lance Carlson. Ed Hunt, who would later go on to be a horror film director, had a small role as a cameraman and editor on the production.

Circle Productions, Jay's production company, was formerly located at 1437 Kingston Road, Scarborough, Ontario.

Based on documents in TIFF's archives, Cinema Canada appears to be responsible for promoting the film.

John Edwards

John Edwards pictured on the soundtrack's sleeve.

John "Jay" Edwards (born c. 1939) conceived of the film's story and was the main writer and director. The story is semi-autobiographical, mirroring Edwards' own conviction and subsequent parole. In a newspaper article[7] written around the time of the film's release, Edwards is described as a "professional ex-convict". Edwards spoke openly about prison reform and how prison could be improved for inmates, giving radio interviews on the subject. Edwards was imprisoned for a sum total of 5.5 years at Collins Bay Penitentiary and Beaver Creek Correctional Camp, and was released in 1967. The nature of Edwards' crimes are unspecified beyond the fact that they were money-related and that Edwards had a disdain for banks, believing that stealing from them was morally justified. After being unable to find any willing investors, Edwards decided that "I was going to make a film out of petty cash and would shoot when I had the money." The film took 5 years and an estimated $102,000 to produce - $648,247 when adjusted for inflation.

Whether or not Edwards was able to secure a distributor for the film upon completion is unclear. When asked about what happened to Edwards after the filming of Dream On The Run, Ed Hunt, in email correspondence, recalled that Edwards' real name may have been John Hawes and that he "was facing some kind of legal trouble during the later part of the time I knew him and I think he escaped to Ireland before that axe fell."

John Edwards on the set of Dream On The Run.

Edwards had plans for at least two more films - No Neutral Corner, a biopic in which Edwards would take on the role of boxer George Chuvalo (whom Edwards apparently witnessed in a street fight growing up) and a film based on the true story of an elaborate American bank heist committed from Canada electronically. Neither of these films appeared to have come to fruition.

A 2020 obituary for a John Edwards in Shelburne, Ontario matches the age Edwards likely would have been at the time. However, whether or not this is the director John Edwards has not yet been confirmed.


The only known extant copy of Dream On The Run is currently held by the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) on videotape.

The search for a copy of the film "Dream On The Run" from 1977 was set in motion by a post made to r/lostmedia in February 2022. Reddit user TemporaryStope (Adams) initiated the quest after discovering the vinyl record of the movie's soundtrack in a thrift store. He recalled, "I was immediately hooked after listening to it." Following this, he embarked on an extensive search, scouring various sources, but his efforts yielded no results.

In a rather serendipitous turn of events, TemporaryStope decided to post about his quest on Reddit, not expecting much to come of it. To his surprise, the day after he made the post, a substantial following rallied behind him, and the search for the film commenced in earnest.

TemporaryStope (Adams) also expressed his gratitude to the individuals who aided him in this endeavor with the following message:

'I am overjoyed to share the remarkable news of our collective success in uncovering the long-lost Canadian crime film, 'Dream On The Run' from 1977. This discovery marks a significant milestone in our journey, one that showcases the power of collaboration and the dedication of our team.

I must express my deepest gratitude to u/BrochJam, whose invaluable assistance and unwavering support propelled us forward, guiding us through the labyrinth of leads and archival resources. Their expertise and dedication played a crucial role in our successful quest to locate this hidden gem.

The collaborative spirit that enveloped our endeavor has been nothing short of extraordinary. From the early stages of researching obscure references to the film, to engaging in vibrant discussions and brainstorming sessions, each member brought a unique perspective and expertise to the table. It is this shared passion and commitment that allowed us to piece together the fragments of the film's history and ultimately bring it back into the spotlight.

As we reflect upon our journey, it fills me with immense pride to see my name credited on the wiki page documenting the rediscovery of 'Dream On The Run.' This acknowledgment not only serves as a testament to our collective achievements but also highlights the importance of acknowledging the contributions of every individual who played a role in this significant find.

Our success goes beyond the mere recovery of a lost film; it is a testament to the power of collaboration, dedication, and the unyielding pursuit of preserving cultural artifacts. By unearthing 'Dream On The Run,' we have added a vibrant chapter to the rich tapestry of Canadian cinema, breathing new life into a forgotten masterpiece.

Together, we have accomplished something truly remarkable, and I am honored to have been part of this extraordinary journey alongside all of you'

User abecedaire subsequently discovered the film was preserved in the LAC, and that it was possible to order a copy. The LAC was first contacted about Dream On The Run in March 2022; the cause for the 15-month gap between the initial inquiry and the eventual release of the film was confusion concerning the current rights holders and standard wait times. Requests for digital copies of the film were granted in May 2023.

Tiff's physical file of the film was accessed in May 2022 and some of its contents were scanned. While Tiff did not have a copy of the film itself, they did have production photos, marquee posters and a newspaper interview with director John Edwards. This interview revealed a great deal about the movie's production.

On June 1st, 2023, the film was uploaded onto the Internet Archive by Lost Media Wiki user QuickFox2013. The user acquired the Library and Archives of Canada copy of the movie after gaining permission from the copyright holder.


The full film.

External links