Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Film Buff, R.I.P.
When I first moved to Toronto I had left a fairly large group of friends and family on the west coast which I spent a lot of time with. I was a single parent and I knew very few people in my new city and so I was often home on a Saturday night and pretty darned lonely. I didn't have cable and the major memory I have of tv back then was the crazy innovative channel "City Tv" which ran blue movies at midnight, cult movies and music interviews with a multicultural group of journalists. It was striking, and I loved it, but there was another channel which offered a fair bit of interesting programming as well. A channel which had some cooking and science shows, kids programing, and documentaries. On Saturday evening they had an odd man who was totally geeky looking but he would choose two movies and play them almost back to back WITHOUT COMMERCIALS! And not just any movies. He loved the classics, film noir and artsy films. He seemed to genuinely look at movies like I did...democratically. Actually, back then...tons of movie buffs loved all kinds of movies. There wasn't the kind of cynicism we see today about movies and other mass media entertainment. The host of this Saturday night program was Elwy Yost. Yes, even his name sounded like a guy who might be overly excited and nerded out about things...doesn't it? I thought everything about this guy was so cute.
Now...the trick is here people...that not only did I get exposed to an incredible mixture of movies...he also interviewed EVERYONE in movies. No, I mean everyone. From make up artists, to cinematographers to the movie stars. He interviewed Robert Mitchum, James Stewart and Tippi Hedren for example. These are some of the only exisiting interviews of depth with these classic movie stars. Very in depth coverage of behind the scenes in movies. And they foreshadowed The Actors Studio. or dvd "extras". At the time when I first moved into Toronto I was taking an intensive movie making workshop at Ryerson university. To juxtaose the movies, interviews with all the technical work and networking I was doing downtown was an extremely exciting and inspiring time for me. I learned so much about movies during this time period.
If you google Elwy Yosts name you will find tributes all over the place and the main word associated with him was ENTHUSIASM. Yost was so excited about actors, movies and he would just know so much about the process. He loved looking at movie sets in Hollywood...taking his half million watchers with him. Yes, it was a huge ratings for this little tv station. 500,000 viewers would tune in on a Saturday night. I'll tell you once I started meeting people...I would still video tape this program. Or I would STAY HOME and watch...sometimes having friends over for snacks and to watch these double bill evenings. After I got cable and the movie networks...Elwy Yosts programming was still compelling enough to keep me watching. He showed movies like The Last Detail, Drums Along The Mohawk Cape Fear Night Of The Hunter, many of which were my introduction to these particular movies. He was so kind and energetic in his interviews and so excited about all movies. It's no surprise one of his kids grew up and became a massive writer in Hollywood. And its no surprise that Toronto is a huge movie city...people in Toronto love the movies and are often a gauge of a movies influence, even outside of the Toronto Film Festival scene. I believe that Elwy Yost educated Torontonians in movie history and appreciation. He had an interesting life as he had studied sociology, he made one of the first independent films in Canada, and he worked on the Avro Arrow (which is legend itself). Thanks for all the fun and movies Elwy Yost!
p.s. Yost passed away in July, but I am behind in my blogging, and I really wanted to acknowledge his massive influence.