The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Fun City Editions;
Comedy;
$39.95 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG.’
Stars Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Warden, Micheline Lanctôt, Joseph Wiseman, Randy Quaid, Joe Silver, Denholm Elliott, Randy Quaid.

If Duddy Kravitz had a literary grandshire his name would be Sammy Glick, the schmuck protagonist of novelist Budd Schulberg’s scathing rags to riches tale of a churlish slum-dweller who, at the dawn of the sound era, adopted a “no prisoners” approach, hacking his way through the Hollywood jungle to become Tinseltown’s preeminent screenwriter. Long considered unfilmable, novelist/screenwriter Mordecai Richler and director Ted Kotcheff’s 1974 effort The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz gives Sammy a run for the money.

Duddy (Richard Dreyfuss) is dream rich and cash poor, a lower-class Canadian teen when first we met, raised by his widowed father Max (Jack Warden), a topflight raconteur who spends more time talking up his older son Lennie (Alan Rosenthal) than he does Duddy. Max drives a cab for a living and pimps to make ends meet. Max rewards Duddy’s admiration for his latter endeavor with a klop to the head. Rich Uncle Benjy (Joseph Wiseman) is putting ungrateful Lennie through medical school, much to Duddy’s resentment. Of the three male role models to impact his life, his zayde (Zvee Scooler) is the only one to show the boy any affection. Grandpa’s mantra is: “A man without land is nobody.” It’s easy for the old man to extol the virtues of being a landowner from the safety and comfort of the cramped backyard garden of the family tenement.

Duddy’s gig as a waiter at an all-Jewish summer resort is marked by lessons learned — always check the roulette wheel — and outright self-loathing (“It’s Jews like Kravitz, with all their hard work, that cause anti-Semitism in the United States”) among his co-workers. In a field of memorable character performances stands Joe Silver, the rubber-faced, borderline macrocephalic mensch whose throaty rumblings never fail to delight. Farber (Silver) is Duddy’s mentor, the gansa macher of his dreams. By way of introduction, Farber rips a hundred dollar bill in two, hands half to Duddy assuring the waiter that he’ll get its companion at the end of the season providing the service is good. It takes a lot, but Farber’s charm eventually curdles when he proffers heartless advice concerning an epileptic admirer (Randy Quaid) of whom Duddy takes sore advantage. Duddy’s love interest Yvette, played by the husky-throated Canadian actress Micheline Lanctôt, means little more to the hustler than folding green and a blouse to stick his hand down. Dreyfuss was disappointed with his performance. With all the running, jumping, and itching, particularly the itching, it’s easy to understand his disdain while not sharing it. Hard though it may be to feel any pity for a guy as downright unprincipled as Duddy, but damn if it isn’t more than a bit difficult to watch the poor jerk twitching in his sleep.

The Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin and Ernst Lubitsch were among the first in Hollywood to openly lampoon Nazis. Unlike You Natzy Spy, The Great Dictator or To Be or Not to Be, Mel Brooks’ The Producers was the first post-Holocaust release to play Hitler for laughs. Orthodox cousins on my mother’s side refused to see it. “What’s so damn funny about concentration camps?” Donald insisted. Now that you mention it, nothing. But an easily dupable American public turning a tasteless digression designed to “close on page four” into an off-Broadway sensation was considered revolutionary satire by 1967’s standards. Donald was the only Jew on Chicago’s north side who took a pass on both Mel and the big screen adaptation of Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus that followed two years later. More than a mere foray into bad taste, Goodbye, Columbus was a ferocious exploration of the “Jewveau riche” that at times painted its subjects in anything but flattering shades. The celebrated wedding sequence was a paean to gluttony; a Ritz cracker decapitated a chopped liver chicken while hordes of decked-out chazirs straddling the buffet line like a livestock feeder.

Many in the Jewish community felt as though Richler and Kotcheff were purposely casting their own people in a disparaging light by telling tales out of school. (Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever was met by a similar reaction.) If audiences were offended by the aforementioned reception, nothing prepared them for Duddy’s brief career as what has come to be known as a Bar Mitzvah videographer. Working with an on-the-skid drunk (Denholm Elliott, delightfully pompous) with artistic leanings, the final cut he demanded contained enough heavy-handed symbolism to choke Bergman. The presence of Hitler, graphic nudity, and a nod to tribalism in the form of a close-up circumcision would be unthinkable had the local rabbi not given the short his personal dispensation by proclaiming it an artistic triumph. In the end, all but Yvette are shits in wolf’s clothing, even grandpa. Watching Duddy’s world crumble under the weight of his appalling behavior is at times difficult to endure, but nothing is more damning than his becoming fodder for one of his father’s legendary deli spiels.

Extras include an audio commentary by Adam Nayman.

 

Richard Dreyfuss Film ‘Crime Story’ Available for Rental Aug. 13 From Saban and Paramount

Crime Story, starring Academy Award winners Richard Dreyfuss (The Goodbye Girl, Jaws) and Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Mimic), will open in select theaters and for digital rental Aug. 13 from Saban Films and Paramount Home Entertainment.

In the film, a man suffering from cancer seeks revenge on the thieves who have destroyed his life.

When ex-mob boss Ben Myers (Dreyfuss) is targeted in a home robbery, he goes on a deadly rampage of vengeance. But with his family caught in the cross hairs, Myers must finally face the consequences of his dark past in this action-packed crime thriller.

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‘Jaws’ Swimming to 4K Ultra HD June 2 for 45th Anniversary

Director Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster Jaws will come out in a 45th anniversary limited edition on 4K Ultra HD for the first time ever June 2 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The thriller, winner of three Academy Awards, including Best Original Score (John Williams), will come out in a combo pack with lenticular packaging and will include a 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital code of the film along with more than three hours of bonus features and a 44-page booklet with introductions, rare photos, storyboards and more from the archives.

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In Jaws, when the seaside community of Amity finds itself under attack by a dangerous great white shark, the town’s chief of police (Roy Scheider), a young marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) embark on a desperate quest to destroy the beast before it strikes again.

Bonus features on 4K and Blu-ray include:

  • The Making of Jaws
  • The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws
  • Jaws: The Restoration
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes
  • From the Set
  • Theatrical Trailer

 

Additional bonus features on Blu-ray include:

  • Storyboards
  • Production Photos
  • Marketing Jaws
  • Jaws Phenomenon