Tuesday, June 26, 2007

magic shadows

Today's trip in the wayback machine revolves around a show that may that started my love of old movies.

Magic Shadows ran weeknights on TVOntario throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The show divided old movies into 20-25 minute segments, bookended with comments by host Elwy Yost. Often, one day a week was reserved for serials. The length was perfect for little me to get hooked on classic movies, especially if they were pictured in our quickly-tattered copies of Daniel Blum's photo histories of film. Dad often tuned in for British comedies - I'm All Right Jack and The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery stick out in my mind.

It wasn't long before I started watching Saturday Night at the Movies. Around this time was a brief period where I was trotted around my elementary school as a seven-year old film expert lecturing grade eights, though I think Dad quashed that quickly (probably thinking I didn't need to be paraded around like a carnival freak). Some people thought I would be the next Elwy Yost, which hasn't happened yet.

Given how much of a 'fraidy cat I was when it came to certain things on TV, like transformation sequences on The Incredible Hulk, I don't recall the pilot-turning-into-a-tiger-turning-into-an-octopus freaking me out much. Maybe I was immune after occasionally sitting through one of the show's lead-ins, Tom Baker-era Doctor Who, which I don't remember causing runs behind the sofa. Not that there was enough space to run behind either of our sofas...

The film Elwy introduces is Swamp Water (1941), legendary French director Jean Renoir's first American film after fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. The cast included Dana Andrews, Anne Baxter, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan, John Carradine and Ward Bond--the sort of cast you'd expect to see wander through a John Ford picture

The clip also contains ads for other TVO programs. I definitely remember the Magic Shadows slide and the style used for the other programs...though the station combo that sticks with me is "channel 18 in London, channel 59 in Chatham". - JB

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