Gerald Pratley, former Variety writer, dies at 87

Championed film in Canada for decades

Gerald Pratley, longtime champion of the Canadian movie industry and a former correspondent and film reviewer for Variety, died March 14 of natural causes in Belleville, Ontario. He was 87.

Born in England, Pratley immigrated to Canada in 1946. He began at the CBC in Toronto as a scriptwriter and became the broadcaster’s first film reviewer in 1948. For decades, in CBC shows including “Pratley at the Movies,” “The Movie Scene” and Music From the Films,” Pratley offered his insights into films and the film industry.

Also for the CBC, Pratley covered the Cannes Film Festival for three decades while writing not only for Variety but also for Canadian Film Weekly, Canadian Film Digest, Hollywood Digest and Film in Review.

Though he was a booster of the local film biz, his expertise expended far beyond. In 1968 he founded the Ontario Film Institute, where as director he catalogued and exhibited pics from around the world. (The Toronto Film Festival assumed management of the org in 1990.)

Pratley was director of the Stratford (Ontario) Film Festival from 1970-75.

As a film historian he served as an adviser for Canadian university film departments as well as Bowling Green State U. in Ohio.

Pratley’s books include “The Films of Frankenheimer: Forty Years in Film,” “The Cinema of Otto Preminger,” “The Cinema of David Lean” “The Cinema of John Huston,” “Torn Sprockets: The Uncertain Projection of the Canadian Film” and “A Century of Canadian Cinema: Gerald Pratley’s Feature Film Guide.”

He received a special plaudit at the 2002 Genie Awards honoring his lifelong dedication to Canadian cinema.

Survivors include a daughter.

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