Saturday Night at the Movies
Saturday Night at the Movies was a weekly television series on TVOntario, the public educational television network in Ontario, Canada. The series presented classic movies, followed by interviews and feature segments with directors, actors and other people involved in making the films presented. The show was initially formatted in this way due to requirements that all programming shown on TVO (including dramatic programming) needed to contain educational elements, which was usually accomplished by including interviews and analysis of the programming. Nevertheless, even after these requirements were dropped, the format was maintained; all told, the series presented almost 1,500 films and over 1,000 interviews.
First aired on March 30, 1974, the program was originally hosted by Elwy Yost. The first film shown was Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly. During Yost's 25-year tenure as host, he showed a wide variety of foreign films, but tended to concentrate on Hollywood-produced films from the 1930s through the 1950s, slowly expanding into also showing films from the 1960s and 1970s as the series progressed.
In the late 1990s, the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris appointed Isabel Bassett as chair of TVOntario, with a mandate to refocus the network's broadcast schedule more clearly on education. Although there was some concern that the network would lose Saturday Night at the Movies, its highest-rated program, Bassett instead negotiated an agreement with York University to include the series in its film studies curriculum.
Yost retired as host of the series in 1999. The last film he presented was, atypically, a recent Hollywood blockbuster: Speed was personally chosen by Yost to conclude his run as host, as it was written by his son, screenwriter Graham Yost.
Yost was replaced as host for one season by Shelagh Rogers. When Rogers returned to CBC Radio the following year to host This Morning, Saturday Night at the Movies briefly changed to a hostless format. The program was then hosted by Johanna Schneller for two seasons. During this time, the focus of the series moved away from the Hollywood classics of the Yost era, and more towards independent and foreign films. Saturday Night At The Movies' final host, for its final 10 seasons, was Thom Ernst.
Saturday Night at the Movies was the longest-running series on Canadian television, apart from network newscasts and sports broadcasting.
On November 13, 2012, it was announced that TVO would cancel Saturday Night at the Movies as of the end of the 2012-2013 season, amidst budget cuts incurred by the network. The final edition of Saturday Night at the Movies was broadcast on August 31, 2013, featuring two foreign films as its last movies: The Lives of Others (at 8 P.M.), and Black Book (starting at 10:50 P.M.)