Micheline Lanctôt and Richard Dreyfuss play in The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz.
BOOKS ON FILM: THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ (Ted Kotcheff). See listings. Rating: NNNN
This Monday, TIFF screens the recent restoration of The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz. Also in the building is director Ted Kotcheff, discussing (presumably) how he made one of the best adaptations of Mordecai Richler's work yet produced.
Shot in Montreal on a modest budget in 1974 with some nobody named Richard Dreyfuss as the eponymous Jewish hustler, Duddy Kravitz doesn't make the mistake of trying to smooth out the rough edges of Richler's text. It's messy, vulgar and raw, just like Dreyfuss's hustler hero.
Actually, it's something of a stretch to call Duddy a hero - "pushy, grasping asshole" would probably be more accurate, and Richler would surely have agreed. But the author also understands why Duddy is who he is, and why he's driven to succeed at any cost. Kotcheff was smart enough to let Dreyfuss play those notes, surrounding his young star with actors like Jack Warden, Joe Silver, Denholm Elliott and a young Randy Quaid.
Given how poorly Richler's work usually fares in the transfer to the screen - think of the stately but inert Barney's Version, or Kotcheff's own Joshua Then And Now - and given Kotcheff's career resurgence with the recent rediscovery of his Australian psychodrama Wake In Fright, this is a screening well worth catching.
Monday (June 3), 7 pm, at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West).