The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Director: Ted Kotcheff
Year Released: 1974
Rating: 2.5

Every day he's hustling: manic, perpetually perspiring Duddy (Richard Dreyfuss) will do anything for a dollar, including waiting tables, being a drug runner, running a roulette table or making wedding/bar mitzvah films ... all to fulfill his dream of being a Big Time Capitalist, buying a lake and developing the land around it. The pacing is frantic as it hops around with Duddy, and it seems as if screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd is trying to take a detailed whirlwind novel and cram it into two hours - characters come and go when it's fitting to do so (Denholm Elliott's Commie filmmaker, the best character in this, vanishes when he's been milked dry of his comic appeal), and even by the conclusion it's not clear whether or not Duddy learned his lesson about exploitation and maintaining a modicum of ethical responsibility. Kotcheff was right in using the reckless, fast-talking Dreyfuss for the lead, and it's only fitting that Spielberg would use him years later as a man willing to abandon his family to chase space creatures for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.