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R.I.P.: Elwy Yost, TVO’s beloved cinephile, dies at 85

In the era before Netflix—and even before Suspect or Queen Video—one of the best ways to watch foreign or classic films (from “the Long Tail,” which used to be known as the back catalogue) was courtesy of Elwy Yost, the host of Saturday Night at the Movies. It was sad news for many people that he passed away yesterday at the age of 85. We liked Torontoist’s memorial and they provided this concrete example of his legacy. Check out the full tribute after the jump.


TVO used its tiny budget for Saturday Night at the Movies as resourcefully as any television show has ever spent money in the history of television, amassing a huge collection of movie rights so that Elwy always had a new film to present and discuss: a massive trove of treasures from Hollywood’s golden age, foreign films from every country imaginable, indie and renegade films and the occasional big-budget blockbuster. But, because this was TVO and therefore an educational channel, simply showing the movie wasn’t enough: Yost and his team also did countless interviews with actors, directors, writers, editors and anybody else they felt could serve to teach the public about the craft and art of movie-making.

Today, that archive spans thousands of hours. It is widely considered to be priceless and one of the great treasures of film criticism.

Yost’s career nicely illustrates why there was such a high demand for Netflix when it started: he spoon-fed us quality cinema, and we wanted more (and we wanted it now, not next week). It is for the same reason that small indie video stores are doing all right while Blockbuster crumbles, and that is why someone like Yost is/was irreplaceable: people with his level of knowledge and passion about films are few and far between.

Elwy Yost, 1925–2011 [Torontoist]Elwy Yost, host of Saturday Night at the Movies, dies at 85 [Toronto Star]

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