THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ
Canada, 1974, 121 minutes, Colour.
Richard Dreyfuss, Micheline Lanctot, Jack Warden, Randy Quaid, Joseph Wiseman.
Directed by Ted Kotcheff.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz puts Canadian director Ted Kotcheff back on home ground after Wake in Fright and Billy Two Hats. Based on a Mordechai Richler story and an Oscar-nominated screenplay, this humorous yet deadly serious look at an ambitious young man proving himself to himself until he over-reaches himself, is quite satisfying drama. Montreal and country locations are convincingly real. The acting is excellent. Richard Dreyfuss (of American Graffiti) bears the responsibility of the film's dramatic impact. Callow, yet attractive, he is an ambitious young Everyman. Denholm Elliot as a has-been film director (with his arty Bar- Mitzvah home movie) also impresses. Recommended for followers of serious contemporary movie-making.
1. The overall impact of the film. interest and entertainment? Value for a Canadian audience. Jewish audiences? The impact and interest for non-Canadian Jewish audiences? The response of a male audience, female audience. differences?
2. How important was the Canadian atmosphere: the presentation of the opening, city and suburbs. the atmosphere of the fifties, the cadet parade and its implications, school, the shops, the Jewish section, the bars, the kind of talk that went on, work. society the background of criminals and working class respect for the criminals, the presentation of holidays, the countryside? How important for an understanding of people in their environment?
3. The contribution of the colour, locations, music and musical themes?
4. The significance of the title, the emphasis on Duddy, the highlighting of the apprenticeship? The irony of the apprenticeship theme? Duddy Kravitz as a person, learning, the type of future to which he was apprenticed?
5. What did Duddy Kravitz learn? As a Canadian, the way of life in Canada, his being smart, pushing to the top, ambition? The levity of his attitude, the serious ambition? Everybody's response to Duddy and treatment as the younger son? The initial presentation of his father, Max, his background, relationship with his mother? The absence of his mother? Max's talk in the bar. his living in the past, the stories about the boy wonder, the revelation of him pimping, the clash with his son? The reprisal of this at the end and his talk about his son's future - another boy wonder?
6. The significance of the lack of love for Duddy on his character? The absence of his mother and his talk about his mother and wondering whether she loved him? His father taking him for granted, not being able to accept a gift, his father's lack of emotions, not being able to give his son the money?
7. Duddy and his love for his grandfather, the talk about the land? His uncle and his dislike for Duddy? The various chips on Duddy Kravitz's shoulder, his reaction to people, his verve to cover this up?
8. Lenny as a contrast with Duddy. the elder brother the brother who is liked. to whom the money is given, given study opportunities, yet forced into a mould? Lenny and his study his running away, his being involved in the abortion. the possibility of his being black-listed his inability to cope and his dependence on Duddy?
9. The importance of Dinglemann in the background and the talk about him, as a goal for life, the influence on Max, on Duddy. the criminal background? The build-up to Duddy's interview with him, his barging in, challenging Dinglemann, the nature of the interview and its repercussions with the visit to the bar and Max's glee and reverence? The significance of Dinglemann's smuggling and drug job for Duddy, Duddy's dislike of him, the importance of the ultimate challenge and the confrontation on the land and all that that meant? Duddy relishing this? Max and his enjoyment of it?
10. The contrast between Benjamin and Max, and their regard to Lenny and Duddy, over money, belief in work, Uncle Benjamin and his hard life, spurning Duddy, the various conflicts, the conflicts about Lenny, Benjamin's dying and his being hurt by Duddy, the question of loving or not, hate? The influence of this uncle on Duddy and his way of acting?
11. How well portrayed was the grandfather, his place in the family, reverence for him, living in a house in the suburbs, his relishing of land? Age and Jewish traditions, influence and ideals? The hopes for fulfilment and yet the grandfather's disillusionment with Duddy about his wheeler-dealing for the land?
12. The importance of the holiday sequences, Duddy and his interaction with the other waiters, their dislike of him, their rudeness towards him? The picturing of the various types, their snobbery, especially Irwin and the clash with him? The sexual innuendo and the sex comedy? The presentation of Duddy working hard and building up a reputation, bowing and scraping to the visitors? The irony of the setting up of the gambling and the irony of Farber and the others giving Duddy the money in recompense? What lesson did he learn about human nature, ambition and money?
13. The character of Farber, the presentation of the successful Jewish merchant and worker, his family, seeing him at his work. his support of Duddy? The importance of his philosophy of ruthlessness and money? His helping Duddy with the film?
14. The contrast with Yvette, seeing her at the holiday camp, her work, her ordinariness, her friendship for Duddy, her love? The quality of their relationship, emotional, sexual? The motivation for her support of him? The particulars - her character, her goodness? Agreeing to be front for the money because of anti-semitism? Her working for Duddy in the firm? Helping him, trying to humanize his ambitions? What effect did she have on him? Why couldn't she ultimately influence him for good?
15. The irony of the character of Fryer? The humour of the lecture, the incidents at the bar, his drinking way with women the discussion of the contract and his alcoholic signing? The comedy about the Bar Mitzvah? The location scouting and setting up of the film? The comedy in the film? The irony of modern film-making, the implications on the Jews, anthropology, religion. superstition, traditions? The parody? The irony of Farber liking it and its being a success? Duddy building a career on this?
16. Audience response to Duddy and his energy the fact that he had to be continually on the go. the frenetic pace. his contracts. plans scrounging for the money? How much did it become an obsession?
17. Could the audience understand this because of seeing the land, its beauty? Seeing it through the eyes of Yvette? A vision, and his aims? The pros and cons of his developing this land? The importance for Duddy's self-image? An obsession which then led to the trail? The importance of the sequences of his begging his disillusionment, his downfall in betraying his friends?
18. The smuggling sequence and the train ride? The encounter with Virgil and Virgil's character? Virgil and Yvette as contrasts in simplicity and goodness with Duddy? The question of the machines, Virgil and his work, wanting a friend? The quality of his friendship with Duddy, the effect on Duddy? Virgil and his work showing the films? The question of the fits. the driving. the accident? The apportioning of blame? Yvette and her response to the betrayal and looking after Virgil? The importance of Duddy's elaborate faking of Virgil's signature? The film's showing of his torments of conscience and yet succumbing? The pathos of the rejection?
19. Everybody going to the land, the lack of response to Duddy? The encounter with Dinglemiann and telling him to get off the land and all that that meant?
20. The significance of the encounter with the rich.. the girl having the abortion, Duddy encountering the rich man. playing it cool with him asking him for money?
21. The rebound of the achievement? Duddy proud of himself,, able to reject his friends,. the significance of Max’s talking at the end and Duddy's acceptance at the Bar? The apprenticeship was over.
22. The values and their presentation in terms of comedy, cynicism, detailed observation?