The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a 1974 Canadian comedy-drama film directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Richard Dreyfuss. It is based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler.
The younger son of a working-class Jewish family in Montreal, Duddy Kravitz yearns to make a name for himself in society. This film chronicles his short and dubious rise to power, as well as his changing relationships with family and friends. Along the way the film explores the themes of anti-semitism and the responsibilities which come with adulthood. It’s the post WWII era. Taxi driver Max Kravitz, who pimps on the side, lives with his two grown sons – early twenty-something medical student Lennie Kravitz, and late teen Duddy Kravitz, who has just graduated from high school – in the working class Jewish neighborhood of Montréal. Lennie receives all the positive attention from family and others of authority in the neighborhood, especially from Max’s businessman brother, their Uncle Benjy, who is financing Lennie’s medical school education, while Duddy is on the most part neglected. The only elder in the family and in the neighborhood who shows Duddy any respect is their zaida. As such, Duddy aspires to his zaida’s assertion that land ownership is the way to make a name for oneself, especially after Duddy finds a lake, the entire property around which he would like to purchase. With only his ingenuity and chutzpah at hand, both of which he has plenty, Duddy embarks on one get rich scheme after another to make money to buy the land, usually following the belief that doing favors for those in power will yield financial favors in return. By Duddy’s side through many of these schemes is his French-Canadian Catholic girlfriend Yvette, who loves Duddy but hates how he reduces his affections for her to economic terms. Yvette stays with Duddy despite the probability that there is no long term future for them due to their religious differences. The primary questions become whether Duddy’s high risk ventures will ultimately result in his end goal of being able to buy all the land, whether this goal is worth it at any cost, whether he will garner respect from his family and the community, and whether he will find true happiness and ultimate fulfillment in achieving these.
Richard Dreyfuss as Duddy Kravitz
Micheline Lanctôt as Yvette
Jack Warden as Max Kravitz, Duddy’s father
Randy Quaid as Virgil, Duddy’s friend.
Joseph Wiseman as Benjy Kravitz, Max’s brother and Duddy’s and Lenny’s uncle
Denholm Elliott as Friar
Henry Ramer as Dingleman
Joe Silver as Farber
Zvee Scooler as Grandfather, Max’s and Benjy’s father and Duddy’s and Lenny’s grandfather.