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Frank “Budge” Crawley


B: November 14, 1911 in Ottawa, Ontario

D: May 13, 1987 in Toronto, Ontario

Frank Randford “Budge” Crawley was a Producer, Director, and filmmaking pioneer. What many people don’t know is that his company, Crawley Films, began as a hobby. Crawley was the son of an Ottawa accountant, Arthur A. Crawley and grew up to be an accountant himself. After he joined his father`s firm, he continued to experiment with filmmaking during the early 1930s. He made a number of short black-and-white industrial films, some amateur films on canoeing, and in 1938 he shot a travelogue on Ile d’Orleans while he and his first wife, Judith, were on their honeymoon. In 1939 they formed Crawley Films and by the late 1940s the Ottawa-based company was one of a number of small Canadian companies making newsreels and sponsored films for business. The they didn’t stay small for long. By 1949 Crawley Films had 33 employees and also that year, at the very first Canadian Film Awards, they won the “Film of the Year Award” for The Loon’s Necklace. Crawley Films would grow to become one of North America’s biggest studios outside of Hollywood. The company would make some 5,000 films if you include hundreds of TV commercials in the final tally. It would also win more than 270 international awards including the first Canadian feature-film “Oscar” for The Man Who Skied Down Everest. Budge Crawley’s acceptance speech was memorable: “Thank you very much for this American award for a Canadian film about a Japanese adventurer who skied down a mountain in Nepal.” In 1980, Budge Crawley was given the Order of Canada. There was little left to do and in his 71st year, he sold Crawley Films to Atkinson Film Arts in 1982. Two years later the National Archives purchased the Crawley film collection. Although Frank Crawley lived until 1987 – his wife had died the previous year – Crawley Films survived until 1989. But there was little to celebrate when, in its 50th year, Crawley Films went into bankruptcy. The following is a very small sampling of titles:

Features & TV Movies:
VR indicates Direct-to-Video Release

Ile d’Orléans (1938)

The Loon’s Necklace (1948)

Newfoundland Scene (1950)
The Power Within (1953)
The Legend of the Raven (1958)

The Entertainers (1967)
Amanita Pestilens (1963)
The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1964)
Return to Oz (TV-1964)

Hamlet (TV-1971)
The Hamlet (TV-1971)
The Rowdyman (1972)
August and July (1973)
The Man Who Skied Down Everest (1975)
Janis (1975)

Heartland Reggae (1982)

Poster for the Gordon Pinsent film, Rowdyman
Poster for the Gordon Pinsent film, Rowdyman