Thursday, February 5, 2009

Anybody Remember Elwy Yost ?

Doesn't anybody out there remember genial Elwy Yost? It's hard to believe but the retired host of Saturday Night At The Movies  will be 84 come July. Now happily retired in British Columbia, Yost was TVOntario's most recognizable face for over a quarter of a century. Every Saturday night at 8 on TVO the chuckling Yost --he once told me he'd never seen a movie he really disliked-- would introduce two "Golden Oldies" and include a bunch of Hollywood interviews.
To everybody's surprise (including TVO's) Yost's show became one of the staples of Saturday evenings and at times drew almost even with Saturday NHL hockey. So popular did he become that rivals deliberately bought away huge blocks of movies to keep Yost from getting them.
Yost always told me his biggest disappointment was never being able to run old Warner Bros. titles because CBC owned the rights.
After Yost retired TVO repackaged his interviews into a "new" series called Film 101. It's passing strange to me but Uncle Elwy's name nowhere appears in the credits. Also overlooked is his long standing producing partner Risa Shuman who continued to run Saturday Night years after his own retirement.
Elwy's absence is in name only. You can still spot his distinctive voice and "Gosh Gee" interviewing style in a majority of interviews. Is TVO embarrassed or what by his continuing fame?   

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I came late to this post, but then again, I just came back to Canada after many years in the States, and am just appalled at what has happened to SNAM. Instead of continuing to introduce classic films to a new generation, and providing them the respectful scholarly treatment they deserve, they've gone the easy way out, and tried to stay "relevant" by programming mostly only films from the past twenty years. Sure, so far they've programmed some high quality films, but the discussion themes are often tiresome or inane, and they're playing films which are readily available elsewhere. As great as Brazil is, did I need to see it again on TVO when I had just seen it on MoviePix, and would have the chance to see it the week after? Why play unwatchable sludge like The Machinist on Halloween instead of The Haunting or The Uninvited? I have a bad feeling that SNAM, currently trying to pick up Showcase's old ball of featuring quality domestic (Canadian and American) and foreign films of recent vintage, will soon go down the AMC route as well.

Anonymous said...

I loved watching Yost on SNAM on TVO. I think something is truly missing with the show being hostless now. Its the same thing with Masterpiece Theatre which is also without someone to introduce the show and comment on things. One thing about SNAM today though... the man in the opening sequence who is shown running the projector looks a lot like Yost. Was that intentional?

Anonymous said...

Elwy Yost should be acknowledged in the credits. I do miss him as host.

Anonymous said...

I missed many of his shows do to my youth and thinking that anything "old" wasn't worth watching but one evening I sat and watched and was amazed at how much he knew about the particular film,how it was filmed,who was in it and everything else he would expand upon....I sat and watched the movie and felt like I was there watching it with a friend.
I miss him.

Gilgamesh said...

As a young man in Toronto I used to enjoy Magic Shadows on TVO at 7:30pm.

Later from my farm house perched on a hill and getting only broadcast channels..we used to plan our sat. nights watcing Elwy and his selections. We could have rented DVD's but preferred the Currie and Ives surrounding and the warmth that Ely brought to the show. Sadly once Elwy retired we stopped watching SNAM.

bhash

Cosmo P Topper said...

Yes, SNAM lost a lot when Elwy retired. I do think that TVO was, and still is, embarrassed by him. He wasn't "relevant" or "edgy" enough. The decline in SNAM only reflects a similar decline in the quality of TVO programming in general. SNAM and Magic Shadows were reflections of a time when old movies were not that available and hardly anyone talked about them seriously. That is not the case today. I would love to see a broader mix of films on SNAM but I doubt that will happen. I know the current producer of SNAM and he's a great guy who loves film. But Elwy was a great man who loved movies.

Anonymous said...

I miss Elwy Yost and SNAM. I am 40 yrs old now and growing up I loved the black and white movies and later in years appreciated his interviews. There is nothing like that on TV now. I would love my nephew and nieces to enjoy such programs again. I yearn for a good black and white and Elwy Yost and his interview style.

Thank you Elwy for your contribution to TV.

Ms A Smith, Toronto, ON

Anonymous said...

I miss Elwy Yost so much since he retired. Saturday Night At the Movies has not been the same without him and they show such rude, crude, vulgar movies now on that program! Elwy showed movies that for the most part were classics and we never had to worry about nudity, swearing, using the Lord's name as a swear word! He was class A all the time. Miss him? You bet! Do I watch Saturday Night At The Movies now? No way! It has become garbage! So very sad.

Anonymous said...

I started dating my husband in high school in 1976 (yes, we are still married) and our dates at either his house or mine included many Saturday Nights at the Movies. All those wonderful classic and maybe not so classic movies, but more importantly, an appreciation of the history of motion pictures, an appreciation of production and direction, costume, make-up, etc and of course, the craft of acting. Even today, we will ask each other - not "what's on TVO?" if it's a Saturday night, but really we ask "what's on Ely?".
I hope he's in good health and enjoying his retirement!!

Anonymous said...

as a teenager i watched magic shadows and then saturday night at the movies as much to see elwy as i did to enjoy those nostalgic flicks. his genuine enthusiasm for the old classics and his natural interviews with the stars of the day were a thing to behold.
we miss you elwy.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe TVO appreciates its people, even the ones who kept this channel afloat. Loved Elwy over the years, from Magic Shadows onward. Met him a couple of times & he was always a very gracious & kind man.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Richard and yes, I remember Elwy very well. I watched SNAM almost every saturday night for over 12 years. I agree with almost all of the comments made here about him. SNAM was never the same after he retired. He was, after all, 74 years old when he retired and we couldn't expect him to be there for ever. He was a wonderful host, I enjoyed his personality, his sense of humour and wit. Most of all, I enjoyed his knowledge about films and his enthusiasum. Some one else said they watched the show for his interviews, not only did he interview actors, but also, screenwriters, directors and producers. Elwy WAS TVO and it is a shame that they seem to have forgotten him. I sent an email to TVO asking them if it would be permitted to send Elwy and email to tell him how much I admired him etc. etc. They wrote me back and said they had no information on him. Like some one else said, I also think he should be shown in the credits.
I watched SNAM, this past saturday because it was the beginning of a new season and they have a new host. His name is Thom Ernst and he seems to be a real nice chap and I enjoyed his first show. He isn't Elwy and no one else could really fill his shoes, but I wish this new guy, all the best.

Thom said...

Hi Richard,

Thank-you for your very kind words of encouragement. I worked with Elwy as his researcher and can tell you he is just as congenial in person as he was on air.

We do acknowledge Elwy in our tributes and on camera I try to have an Elwy image (via a mug) somewhere on set.

The reason the films are newer are because we try to find films that other stations aren't covering - there are many stations showing exclusively classic cinema. We are tying our hand at current, independent and foreign films. Also...in order to do the show with Interviews we need to (frankly) feature films where the cast and crew are still available for interviews.

Again, Richard...thanks so much for the kind wishes. I have big shoes to fill and I hope to do Mr. Yost Justice.

Sincerely,

Thom Ernst
Producer/Host
Saturday Night at the Movies.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Thom for the response. You do indeed have big shoes to fill, but I really enjoyed your first show. Especially beginning with all those past interviews that Elwy aired. I really miss him and I hope he is enjoying his retirement, because he indeed deserves it. I wish you all the best and I hope you will be able to air some classic films, from time to time. I have been a film buff for years and that is why I enjoyed SNAM so much.

Good luck with the show and again all the best of luck.

Richard

Juds2U said...

Elwy screened a Christmas movie sometime in the late 90's that became my favourite - The Holly and the Ivy. I searched unsuccessfully for a copy of that movie for years. This year however, after jumping through hoops, I succeeded then ousted "A Christmas Carol" as my Christmas Eve viewing.

Anonymous said...

We miss Elwy....TVO's SNAM hasn't been the same since he left....the movie choices suck big time....we've gone back to watching our own movie library and even some of our "duds" look better than the stuff that has been showing on there lately....but maybe it's because Hollywood's bankrupt....the writers have all run out of ideas for truly great movie ideas and all they can put out is remakes of old stuff...like...."The Green Hornet"....GIVE ME A BREAK!

Anonymous said...

Ernst is lying through is teeth. The only channels exclusively playing classic films are 1)TCM, which is only available in select areas and 2) Silver Screen Classics, which is subscriber-only, and hardly worth the cost when it only shows crappy copies of public domain films. The new SNAM is being run by cultural illiterates who are allergic to black and white and don't give a shit about movies made before they were born.

Thom Ernst said...

I will be happy to respond to thoughtful constructive criticism from anyone who isn't hiding behind an anonymous signature. I am accessible and easy to find by calling TVO. I will even be happy to share some of our upcoming titles many in B&W, many made before I was born. Incidentally: during my time we've aired In Cold Blood, Compulsion, Witness to the Prosecution, The
BrIdge, Father of the Bride, High Society, My Sister Eilieen The Ugly American, Requiem For a Heavyweight, Viva Zapata, East of Eden, To Sir With Live and many more "before I was born"

Tim Carter said...

TVO's SNAM has really gone downhill. It's no longer Saturday Night At The *Movies* - rather it's Saturday Night At The Obscure Cinema... Playing esoteric, "quirky" stuff that is appreciated by all of the five or ten people out there watching it any given Saturday night. You'll never see anything like a thriller, horror or a descent war film anymore. It's now just full of dull dialogue-driven "independant films" that are usually one or two steps away from left-wing propaganda.

I miss the good old days of Saturday Night At The MOVIES!

bruce pittman said...

Sad to say Elwy died this morning at his home.
He will be missed.
Bruce Pittman

Anonymous said...

It is with such a heavy heart that I wanted to post my deepest sympathy to everyone who adored Elwy. I enjoyed Magic Shadows and SNAM for both the films and Elwy, he taught and entertained us all. You will be greatly missed. Sympathy to your family and your beloved followers.

Anonymous said...

It is with such a heavy heart that I wanted to post my deepest sympathy to everyone who adored Elwy. I enjoyed Magic Shadows and SNAM for both the films and Elwy, he taught and entertained us all. You will be greatly missed. Sympathy to your family and your beloved followers.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear this news. Mr. Yost as I knew him will be missed. My sympathies go out to his family. I remember his days living in Rexdale.

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to hear of the passing of Elwy Yost! It feels like we have lost a member of the family. Although he had retired from Saturday Night At The Movies he was such a regular visitor in our home on Saturday night that he remaind forever in our hearts and we thought of him often. We the movies hit rock bottome on Saturday Night At The Movies we realized that Elwy could never be replaced. The movies became for the most part very rude and vulgar and were of no interest in our home. So sad, that this man, who left such a legacy of movies, information and interviews was so disrespected at TVO that his legacy was not carried on through the showing of good, wholesome, classic movies.
Elwy Yost, one of a kind. Loved by us all! My sincere condolensces to all his family members and to all those who loved him as much as we did! Sincerely, Beverly.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Yost educated me in the world of classic movies. From the age of 11, well into my 20s, I reserved my Saturday nights to watch "Saturday Night at the Movies". I even spurned a few bar hopping dates to spend the evening with Elwy. His films are still important to me. I have bought almost every title that he featured. His background knowledge and passion were wonderful. My condolences to his family, upon his death.

Sarah Jane Maguire said...

Heartfelt sympathy to the Yost Family. I have missed Elwy since he retired and only now and then tune in to SNAM. Whenever I do, I miss his happy face telling us about the film coming up and I would almost wriggle with contentment when he said those warm words to us :-

"Now ladies and gentlemen it's that time. Put your feet up and turn the lights down low and enjoy,,,,.(I think there was more but that's all I can remember at the moment. I feel he's in a Happy Place. Maybe now he will get that interview with Orson Welles. I watched Shenandoah last night. I love you Elwy.