The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

Friday, 18 June, Year 13 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitzi tells the story of the post-War "New" Bureaucrat. Obviously the young shit on the make is not that new ; kids with a lot of ambition and very little anything else have been pouring out of cunt ever since it was invented, and in diluvional over-abundance. What the hell are males even for, down to the brass tacks ? Do & die, right ?

Unlike the 2018 version, the 1948 version (hey, it's been 3/4 century already!) is pretending to be interested in business, capitalism, ownership, etcetera ; but very much like the 2018 version, the 1948 version's alleged preoccupations and interests are similarly ungenuine. It's the exact same cursory preoccupation, readily obvious in its superficiality. Transparent mimmicry for ulterior interest -- then as now the exact same thing, really, the means be damned & go straight to hell. Yes those were pretending to want to make money just like these are pretending to want to "help others" ; yet such paintcoat-level distinction without the faintest actual difference underneath might not even be sufficient to fool dogs. It certainly ain't fooling me.

That said, Dreyfuss is fantastic in this role. For some incomprehensible reason the kid had wasted most of his life up to that point doing TV shits ; this film is probably the best of his career (and, ironically enough, he thought he did such a bad job he might as well give up acting as a career!). The reason is chiefly the excellent fit between the actor and the character : there's all sorts and manners of engines, and ultimately all can move a locomotive ; but there's no fit as close between the item's needs and an engine's output than what electrics provide. Exactly the same's the case here : as thin a personality, as exactly, precisely deranged an impetuosity, as intensely consummate a hollowness no other actor of that generation could produce, not the taxi driver, not the "what matters is I believe you", not "England prevails", not "once the sweat dries", not the four foot tall "liquidator", none of them. Name your own horse, why not, go for itii -- by the time you dig through the pile as deep as say Schiavelli or Shawn Wallace I'm expecting you'll surrender, humbled (and therefore gain the greatest reward for your efforts -- a clearer understanding of how little "your own opinions" matter).

Jack Warden is a major problem, because although a fine actor delivering a solid performance, he inescapably comes across the screen as utterly Irish. The whole movie I'm sitting there wondering why the hell the little Jew from Montreal was sired out of some unseen balabusta by god damned Paddy over there, it's quite distracting. But such notwithstanding the author makes every effort -- and succeeds superbly -- at re-enacting the deep, unyielding squalor of the East Coast after the war. Quite as filthy, quite as miserable, mean and gangly, quite so looked America "the great" before actually giving up on the Industrialization pipe dream. Just as it was about to, while it was yet still fighting the battle.

And then, the screenwriting is strictly superb. That scene in particular, where the facetious bitch, the dumbass making not merely the wrong but outright the evil choice asks, insanely, as they do, backwards, upside-down, whether "they betrayed him" and he lets her have it, "yes, you have", because yes they indeed have. The hemming of the young ambitious shit, ever since the dawn of time : the disloyalty of women and the disinterest of the lords.

What can you do...

  1. 1974, by Ted Kotcheff, with Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Warden. []
  2. Ever notice before, by the way, how the 1940s-born actresses outnumber the actors 3:1 ? No ?

    How come. []

Category: Trilematograf
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5 Responses

  1. CarpraC`s avatar
    Sunday, 20 June 2021

    Since this post brought up ancient actors, their experience and quality, what is your opinion of Ian McKellen?

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 20 June 2021

    Obscure TV actor, plenty of those. (I didn't, for instance, review the pantsuit retelling of Richard the IIIrd, not for not having seen it but because it's in there with Dreyfuss' character's "work".)

    How's he ancient anyways, he's still working.

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 20 June 2021

    PS. s/undertaker/liquidator/ on re-read. Nfi what I was thinking.

  4. You were thinking a pallid Danny DeVito in a purple crushed velvet suit saying "Welcome to Larry's Mortuary" would totally work.

    S'ok, I was thinking it too.

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Tuesday, 22 June 2021


    If we met back when I was still in that line I'd have totally sent him all my business.

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