Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (first published in 1959) tells the story of the eponymous Duddy Kravitz, a smart, sassy, and scheming hustler who spends most of his day going to school at a local Jewish academy and working four jobs at once so that he can "be somebody." The book is wildly funny, but it also has some important messages about morality, materialism, greed, and perhaps most importantly, antisemitism.
Richler's book was later adapted into a film of the same name. Directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring Richard Dreyfuss and Micheline Lanctôt, the film was both critically and financially successful, holding a 100% critics' approval rating and a 72% audience approval rating on the movie site Rotten Tomatoes. After giving the film 3 out of 4 stars, renowned film critic Roger Ebert wrote the following about the film: "It's a little too sloppy, and occasionally too obvious, to qualify as a great film, but it's a good and entertaining one."
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a powerful story of a young man's search for success, and the consequences of his choices. It shows how ambition and desire can be blinding, and how the search for material success can be counter-productive. In the book, Duddy is driven by his ambition to become wealthy, even though he is warned by his grandfather, Yiddish teacher, and mentor, Max, that "a man without ethics is a wild animal." Duddy is a hustler and a con man, but at the same time he is naive and innocent, and he learns the hard way that money does not equal happiness.
The film adaptation of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a faithful adaptation of Richler's novel. The film captures the book's tone and themes perfectly, and the story remains largely unchanged. However, the film does add a few scenes that are not present in the book, such as a scene where Duddy and Max have a heated argument about the morality of Duddy's ambitions, and a scene in which Duddy goes to a speech by a Holocaust survivor. These scenes, which were not in the book, add depth to the film's exploration of the themes of morality and antisemitism.
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is a powerful, moving, and thought-provoking story, and its adaptation in the film is a perfect representation of Richler's original text. Richler's novel and Kotcheff's film both explore the themes of greed, ambition, and morality, and both versions make us consider the consequences of Duddy's choices. The film also explores the concept of antisemitism in a way that is both subtle and emotionally powerful, and it provides an important reminder of the dangers of unchecked ambition and greed. This timeless story is a must-see for fans of Richler's writing, as well as for anyone interested in exploring the themes of morality and materialism.