Sunday, July 24, 2011

Elwy Yost R.I.P.

I haven't written on this blog for a while. Lazy I guess. But I decided to end my silence when I read of the passing of one Elwy Yost. You may not know who that is (shockingly, few people I know have ever heard of him), but he had a profound effect on my love of movies while I was growing up.

Elwy Yost was the host of several TV shows on TVO highlighting movies from the past. Chief among these were Magic Shadows where he would show movie serials (my first introduction to Captain Marvel, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and even Lone Ranger when the show played episodes of the TV series), and Saturday Night at the Movies where Elwy played classics from yesteryear which went from movies from the 30's and 40's and 50's to the 80's when the show ran so long that Jaws and Close Encounters were now fodder for the series. In fact, Elwy hosted for 25 years (take that Oprah), before retring in '99. I was introduced to MGM musicals, Danny Kay, the Thin Man movies, the Ray Harryhausen films, and even Harold Lloyd (my favourite silent star). The highlight of Saturday Night at the Movies were the candid interviews that Elwy had with stars, directors, composers and screen writers which ran in between the movies (each episode was a double-bill). No press junkets here, with some garish poster behind some star because they're promoting that movie. Elwy would go to the stars' houses and interview them in their living rooms. I remember Robert Mitchum all relaxed and reclined on his couch talking to Elwy, and Vincent Price talking in his living room about Jaws scaring the crap out of him (he was afraid to go in his bath tub!). Elwy Yost had an infectious love of films which rubbed off on the viewer. He was so excited to see these guys, he would gush like a fan boy and ask questions in rushed tones as if he were afraid that the interview would be over before he could ask a question. What I liked too about these interviews is that they often involved one camera with it pointed at the star at all times, so you got their reactions in between questions and they were often uncut and raw. His interviews are now a part of the archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and I've actually seen clips of his interviews in various Life Time Achievement inductions on the Oscar telecasts, using Elwy's vast catalogue of candid conversations with the people who built the Hollywood industry.

Elwy Yost died Thursday at the age of 85. He will be missed.

Now, there are alot of clips of Elwy Yost, Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies on youtube, but my favourite is probably Elwy's tour of Universal, so I'll leave you with that.


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