From Page to Screen: 45th Anniversary Screening
Sunday, November 17, 2019
2 PM @ National Museum of American Jewish History
General Admission: $15 | Seniors: $13 | *Students: $6
*Because student ID is required, tickets may only be purchased in-person.
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Genre: Narrative Feature
Running Time: 2 hr
When THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ was first released in 1974, 26-year-old Richard Dreyfuss had just come off the buzz and box office success of his previous film, George Lucas’s American Graffiti (1973). His next film, Jaws (1975), was an even bigger hit and turned Dreyfuss into a household name. DUDDY KRAVITZ, whose release was sandwiched between these two critically-acclaimed motion pictures, comparatively fell under the radar despite winning the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Even more curious is Dreyfuss’ initial reaction to his own performance in the film. It took him nearly 20 years to appreciate his portrayal of Duddy, the barefaced, vociferous anti-hero of Mordecai Richler’s semiautobiographical novel adapted for the screen. Today, when the award-winning actor looks back on the film, it looms deeply significant, much more of a milestone than he first imagined.
The novel, inspired by Richler’s teenage years growing up in Mile End, a working-class Jewish neighborhood in Montreal, was Canada’s answer to Augie March. Like Saul Bellow’s picaresque novel, DUDDY KRAVITZ is a cautionary tale, calling out the inevitable shift to a culture that feeds off of reckless ambition and greed. Watching Dreyfuss bring Duddy to life as a twitchy, sweaty, roguish teen living by his wits with a dream to make something of his life is nothing short of extraordinary.
Duddy, perpetually overshadowed by his “smarter” and “more successful” med-school brother, is itching to make a buck so he can invest in a share of land that he’s certain is going to make him a fortune someday. An enterprising fella with a voracious libido, he sneers at traditional community values and stops at nothing to prove he has the chops to succeed — even if success, in his eyes, comes at the expense of those he loves the most. Raised by a single father who drives a cab for a living, it’s no surprise he yearns to be respected by everyone who has ever doubted him — but what really gives Duddy his edge is not so much a reflection of his ego but his heart.
Celebrating its 45th anniversary this season, don’t miss Ted Kotcheff’s oft-overlooked classic in this special edition of GPJFF’s From Page to Screen.
- Berlin International Film Festival