Canadian Moving Picture Digest [Feb 13, 1954]

Canadian Moving Picture Digest

Editors: Merrick R. Nutting (1917-18), Raymond S. Peck (1918), Ray Lewis (1918-19 and 1920-54), Walter Greene (1919-20), Jay Smith (1954-57)

Canadian Moving Picture Digest (1917-57) was initially a Montréal-based rival of the first film paper in Canada, Toronto-based Canadian Universal Bulletin (1915-18, edited by W.A. Bach 1915-17, J.W. Cambridge 1917-18, Raymond S. Peck 1918). The two periodicals were combined in 1918, keeping the Digest name, but moving production to Toronto with Peck as editor. Canadian Moving Picture Digest assumed The Bulletin’s volume numbering and always claimed 1915 as its year of origin. Ray Lewis (née Rae Levinsky) was a writer and playwright, who spent time in early Hollywood’s publicity departments. She briefly took the Digest helm in 1918, then long-term editor, later owner and publisher, from 1920 until her death in 1954. Under Lewis’s leadership, the trade paper claimed to serve as a voice for independent exhibitors and advocated for a Canadian cultural presence in cinema, particularly emphasizing British films as a way to keep a distance from Hollywood. Lewis's editorials were notable for their advocacy, wit, and critique of American dominance in the Canadian film market. While initially positioning herself as an outsider, she became integrated within the industry and a true insider. She even had an ongoing correspondence with Canadian Prime Minister R. B. Bennett, advocating for the industry as a whole and supporting British film imports. She was well-known at Toronto’s Dundas Square film row as well as in New York and Hollywood. Variety’s Sime Silverman called her “the Girl Friend in Canada,” and she delighted when U.S. writers not “in the know” presumed “Ray” was a man’s name. Lewis was later an inaugural member of the Canadian Picture Pioneers, eventually the group’s first female president and Pioneer of the Year. After she died in 1954, her son Jay Smith took over editorial duties until Canadian Moving Picture Digest was bought by Nat Taylor’s Film Publications of Canada in 1957. Taylor incorporated the legacy journal into a joint masthead for Canadian Film Weekly (1942-70), which subsequently dated its roots back to the 1915 origins of the film press in Canada.

– Jessica Whitehead and Paul Moore, March 2024

Further Reading

  • Whitehead, Jessica, Louis Pelletier and Paul Moore, “‘The Girl Friend in Canada’: Ray Lewis and Canadian Moving Picture Digest (1915–1957).” In Daniel Biltereyst and Lies Van de Vijver, eds., Mapping Movie Magazines: Digitization, Periodicals and Cinema History, 127-52. London: Pagrave-Macmillan, 2021.

Item Details
This scan made possible by:
Media History Digital Library, Canadian Picture Pioneers, Paul Moore and Jessica Whitehead
Metadata last updated 2024-05-18