Long before the Turner Classic Movies cable channel came along, lucky movie buffs here in Ontario had Saturday Night at the Movies to look forward to each week. Starting in the mid-1970s, it was on this TVOntario show that many of my age were first introduced to all sorts of film classics from the glorious past. And the man who created the show and hosted it for about 25 years running was Elwy Yost, a round faced, enthusiastic, and very genial film connoisseur. Sadly, I learned yesterday that Elwy Yost has just passed away at the age of 86.
Similar to the appeal of Walt Disney coming into our living rooms every week on The Wonderful World of Disney in the 50s and 60s, a decade later Elwy Yost was also like a favourite uncle arriving every Saturday night to sit down and watch with and discuss some of the best movies that Hollywood's Golden Age had to offer. Every week there would be a couple of films screened on a related topic, or perhaps from the same director or starring the same actor. In between the movies there would be pre-filmed interview portion, sometimes with a well-known star, but more often with a director, screenwriter, cinematographer, makeup artist, or other creative person who had long laboured behind the scenes. Elwy would usually film his interviews with them at their homes and, though the interview might start out a bit stiffly, the subjects would always warm up to Elwy as it progressed, when it became quickly evident that Elwy was really interested in their specific contribution to a film classic. I'm certain that many of the interviewees were delighted to be asked questions about their achievements that nobody had ever been interested enough to ask them before. While Elwy did have a tendency to gush in his "Gee Whiz!" manner, his enthusiasm for the films he covered was quite endearing to his loyal viewers, who probably found him very easy to relate to. Elwy was not a film critic so much, but rather, the ultimate film fan. I suspect Elwy Yost never met a movie he didn't like!
Fortunately, TVOntario has just recently been making a number of Elwy's interviews available to watch on their online TVO Archive. I strongly recommend checking out some of these. Animation buffs will probably enjoy Elwy's interviews with Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng. Here is a clip from YouTube that shows Elwy Yost in his hosting duties on Saturday Night at The Movies. Yep, we'll miss you, Elwy...
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