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Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, The

Director: Ted Kotcheff

Canada| 1974. Colour. 120 minutes.


This year’s ‘retrospective’ title is director Ted Kotcheff’s excellent 1974 film version of Mordecai Richler’s classic serio-comic novel about a young man from a Montreal Jewish ghetto of the 1940s and his increasingly desperate efforts to succeed in life. A young Richard Dreyfuss gives a star-making performances as Duddy, the hungry, ambitious schemer who works himself into an absolute frenzy to find his fortune, in the process sacrificing friends, family and his own conscience. From modest beginnings, Duddy’s ventures gradually build to include film production, drug trafficking and cheating on his friends. This study of the sacrifices conscience makes to expediency is very funny and very true. Dreyfuss is excellent as the twitching Duddy and makes the character’s transformation from speedy kid to ruthless businessman totally convincing.
But the movie is almost stolen by the great British character actor Denholm Elliott, who plays Duddy’s filmmaker friend. In the most hilarious sequence, Elliott’s drunken director is hired to make a ‘tasteful’ film about bar mitzvahs and comes up with a ludicrously symbolic concoction involving images of Hitler, kamikaze pilots, razorblade eating and breasts sprayed with the blood of circumcision.

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