Saturday Night at the Movies

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Saturday Night at the Movies
Genre films
Presented by Elwy Yost (1974-1999)
Shelagh Rogers (1999-2000)
Johanna Schneller (2004-2006)
Thom Ernst (2006-2013)
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 39
Producer(s) Risa Shuman (1974-2005)
Production location(s) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Original network TVOntario
Original release March 30, 1974 – August 31, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies was a weekly television series on TVOntario, the public educational television network in Ontario, Canada.[1] The series presented classic movies, followed by interviews and feature segments with directors, actors and other people involved in making the films presented.[2]

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.

The show was produced for much of its run by Risa Shuman.[3]

Broadcast history[edit]

Elwy Yost era[edit]

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.[2] During Yost's 25-year tenure as host, he showed a 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. For a number of years, however, the show was not able to broadcast films from the Warner Bros. studio, as TVOntario's transmitter in Windsor created a programming rights conflict with stations in Detroit.[4]

In his final decade hosting the show, Yost lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, and would travel to Toronto to prepare many episodes of the show at once.[3]

Yost retired as host of the series in 1999.[5] 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.[5] Around the same time as his retirement, he was inducted into the Order of Canada.[6]

After Yost[edit]

Soon after Yost's retirement, 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.[7] Although there was some concern that the network would lose Saturday Night at the Movies, its highest-rated program,[8] Bassett instead negotiated an agreement with York University to include the series in its film studies curriculum.[9]

Yost was replaced as host for one season by Shelagh Rogers, concurrently with her continuing role as host of CBC Stereo's classical music program Take Five.[5] When Rogers became the host of CBC Radio's morning news program This Morning in 2000, she left Saturday Night at the Movies, which briefly changed to a hostless format.[10] At this time, the series added a Sunday night companion series, Sunday Night at the Cinema, which focused more on international film.[4]

The program was then hosted by Johanna Schneller for two seasons beginning in 2004.[11] The show's final host, for the remainder of its run, was Thom Ernst.[12]

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.[13] 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.) [14]


  1. ^ "TVO's Saturday Night transcended the eras". The Globe and Mail, November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Remembering nearly 40 years of Saturday Night at the Movies: As the series' last broadcast draws near, former hosts and staff share memories". Toronto Star, August 29, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Richard Ouzonian, "The secret to Elwy Yost’s success". Toronto Star, July 24, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "TVO prepares for a revamp ; But so far no host to replace Elwy Yost". Toronto Star, July 19, 2000.
  5. ^ a b c Changing faces: Taking over Elwy Yost's host job bittersweet for Shelagh Rogers". Waterloo Region Record, October 9, 1999.
  6. ^ "Munsch, Yost, Egoyan named to Order". Welland Tribune, July 8, 1999.
  7. ^ "Isabel Bassett, the made-for-TV mover: The former culture minister is getting high marks in her tough new assignment at TVO". The Globe and Mail, May 9, 2000.
  8. ^ "Isabel Bassett 'delighted' to be named TVO head ; Former culture minister to put focus back on education". Toronto Star, November 19, 1999.
  9. ^ "Elwy 101: TVO and York collaborate on film studies". Guelph Mercury, February 21, 2004.
  10. ^ "Saturday Night at the Movies goes hostless". Ottawa Citizen, September 29, 2000.
  11. ^ "Intelligence quotient". The Globe and Mail, September 18, 2004.
  12. ^ "Curtain prepares to close on TV show: Saturday Night at the Movies wraps up on TVO after 39 years". Toronto Star, August 23, 2013.
  13. ^ "TVO Announces Plan That Looks to Future". Canada Newswire, November 13, 2012.
  14. ^ Peter Howell, "Saturday Night at the Movies, when going to the movies meant staying in". Toronto Star, August 23, 2013.

External links[edit]