Elwy Yost, a raconteur of film, passed away yesterday of natural causes at the age of 86.
While his name is probably unfamiliar to most Americans, he was a television icon in Canada. Yost was the host of Magic Shadows and Saturday Night at the Movies both of which aired on TVOntario (the Canadian equivalent of PBS.)
Magic Shadows aired weekday nights during the 1970s and 1980s and would present films in serialized form. It was on this program that I got my first taste of The Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin.
Yost hosted Saturday Night at the Movies from 1974 to 1999. These shows became as well known for Yost’s interviews as for the movies he featured. He interviewed Hollywood actors, directors, producers, camera operators, stuntmen amongst other movie professionals. In fact, Yost did so many of these interviews that they were eventually donated to the Motion Picture Academy. Here’s a snippet of an interview Yost did with Charlton Heston concerning the chariot race in Ben-Hur. And here’s some comedy gold with John Candy.
One thing I should make clear is that Elwy Yost was not a film critic. Indeed, Yost liked almost every movie he saw. He was a warm, affable grandfatherly type who seemed to enjoy every moment of his day. Yost’s love of the movies was passed on to his son, Graham, who is best known for writing the 1994 movie Speed with Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper and Jeff Daniels. When Yost signed off from Saturday Night at the Movies last film he featured was Speed.
Let me conclude by giving you a taste of Elwy’s effusiveness as he introduces an interview with director Henry King.