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Beautiful Dreamers

Beautiful Dreamers, movie, image,
This black & white image was scanned from an original set of promotional stills for the colour feature Beautiful Dreamers in the Northernstars Collection.

105 minutes – Drama
Language: English
Release date: June 15, 1990
Production company: Hemdale Pictures Corporation, National Film Board of Canada
Canadian distributor: Cinexus/Famous Players

Set in a 19th-century institution for the mentally ill, Colm Feore plays a compassionate London, Ontario doctor named Maurice Richard Bucke, who has different ideas on how to treat his patients. He defies his superiors so he can treat his patients as human beings rather than animals. When renowned American poet Walt Whitman (played by Rip Torn) champions his cause, the doctor is ostracized by those who fear the poet’s reputation as a freethinking radical. This is a fictionalized retelling of the relationship between Whitman and Dr. Bucke. The two men first met in Philadelphia at a conference where Bucke was going to deliver a speech on his new ideas for the treatment of mental illness. Distressed by the intolerant, even sadistic attitude of his colleagues, Bucke declined to give his speech and stormed out. Whitman, impressed by the man’s passion seeks his advice on the treatment of his mentally disturbed brother, James. Bucke, struck by Whitman’s loving care of his brother and his insistence on keeping him at home rather than in an institution, invites his new friend to return with him to Canada to meet his wife and their young daughter. Beautiful Dreamers was nominated for four Genie Awards in 1991.

Trivia: Director John Kent Harrison was Assistant Professor of film studies at Concordia University in Montreal before making his feature directorial debut with Beautiful Dreamers.

Beautiful Dreamers, movie, poster,



Michael Maclear
Martin Walters
Sally Bochner (NFB)

Executive Producer:

Stephen J. Roth
Colin Neale (NFB)


John Kent Harrison


John Kent Harrison


François Protat


Ron Wisman


Lawrence Shragge

Production Designer:

Seamus Flannery

Art Director:

Anthony Greco

Costume Designer:

Ruth Secord

Cast: Roles:

Colm Feore
Rip Torn
Wendel Meldrum
Sheila McCarthy
Colin Fox
David Gardner
Tom McCamus
Barbara Gordon
Marsha Moreau
Albert Schultz
Bernard Behrens
Peter Blais
Jeff Braunstein
Roger Clown
Martha Cronyn
Bob Clout
Roland Hewgill
Doug Hugues
Tim MacMenamin
Gerry Quigley
R.D. Reid
Angelo Rizacos
Bill Tarling
J.R. Zimmerman
Jefferson Mappin

Dr. Maurice Bucke
Walt Whitman
Jessie Bucke
Molly Jessop
Rev. Haines
Dr. Lett
Leonard Thomas
Agatha Haines
Birdie Bucke
Dr. John Burgys
Dr. Winslow
Dr. McAlpine
Timothy Pardee
John Freeman
Karl Jessop
Cricket Loonie