Film professor Douglas Davidson learned his craft at CBC and NFB

Douglas Drysdale Davidson, a film editor, television producer and director who taught film at York for 30 years, died April 3 at his home in Toronto. He was 82.

Douglas Drysdale DavidsonA memorial service will be held today in the A.W. Miles Chapel at the Humphrey Funeral Home, 1403 Bayview Ave., at 11am. York has lowered the flag today in his memory.

Born in Toronto in 1929, Prof. Davidson graduated from the University of Toronto in 1952 and began work as a stagehand in live CBC television dramas. His career moved into film editing at the National Film Board (NFB) in Ottawa, where he co-founded the NFB Film Guild and helped organize a comprehensive survey of international documentary filmmaking. Later, he returned to the CBC and Toronto, where he was also active – sometimes as a programmer – in the Toronto Film Society.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, he produced and directed children’s programs for the CBC, including “The Friendly Giant”, “Mr. Dress-Up”, “Junior Roundup”, “Maggie Muggins” and “Nursery School Time”. He also produced the after-school series “Passport to Adventure”, featuring Elwy Yost as host of serialized feature films chosen to fire the imaginations of young viewers, a precursor to Yost’s later TVO series “Magic Shadows”. The two men would team up again in 1977 when Prof. Davidson produced a season of TVO’s “Saturday Night at the Movies” and produced his own series, “Aspects of Cinema”, exploring all aspects of the art of cinema.

Prof. Davidson’s teaching career began in 1970, in the second year of York’s pioneering film program with founding chair James Beveridge. For three decades, he taught film editing, with rigorous attention to detail and meaning, as well as film history and theory, conveying a profound respect for the art of cinema. He loved the work of François Truffaut, Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, but came alive when sharing the art of film dance or talking about the poetry of film.

He had a broad and eclectic interest in all films, from the silent films of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith to the comedies of Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, from the Hollywood musical to the documentary art of Leni Riefenstahl, from Norman McLaren shorts to Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Robert Altman’s Nashville.

As a film-programming consultant, he was often invited to speak about educational television, the design, choreography and production of Hollywood musicals, the practice of musical “quoting” in Hollywood musical scores and other related topics.

In an obituary, his family described him as a gentleman and humanitarian, a man of integrity and kindness, and a gentle soul who developed many friendships.

At York, he was particularly close to York film Professor Tereza Barta and Ryerson University film instructor Laurinda Hartt-Fournier, who wrote in a note published on the funeral home website: “Doug, you were my best friend for 40 years and affected my life profoundly as a teacher, director, film editor, film admirer (much more than a film fan) and a wonderfully supportive friend. You are missed, but all the students I have taught in the past 20 years have been the recipients of your love of film and your joy in it through how I teach and what I teach.”

Prof. Davidson is predeceased by his wife Catherine and survived by his brother Ronald, stepdaughter Christine Thomson and her son Jeremy, as well as his nieces Robin Tonna (Vincent), Kelly Davidson and nephew Cameron Davidson. In latter years, longtime friend Catherine Lawson and her sons, Thomas and David, welcomed Professor Davidson into their lives.

Donations may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario, 2300 Yonge St., Suite 1300, PO Box 2414, Toronto, ON, M4P 1E4 or charity of your choice.

Condolences and memories may be forwarded through