The ambitious younger son (Richard Dreyfuss) in a working-class Montreal family in the 1950s claws his way to the top in this bracing, rarely screened adaptation of the Mordechai Richler novel. On the make from his teenaged years onward (starting a business of filming bar mitzvahs, ruthlessly chasing after land), Duddy becomes a portrait in all-consuming ambition, alienating friends, relatives, and the girl who loves him. Versatile (and Toronto-born) director Ted Kotcheff keeps the pace with Duddy’s need for self-justifying momentum as he fights for his piece of the world.
“No matter how phenomenal Richard Dreyfuss is in other roles, it’s not likely that he’ll ever top his performance in this teeming, energetic Canadian film. His baby-faced Duddy is a force of nature, a pushy 18-year-old con artist on his way to becoming an entrepreneur.”
Image courtesy of the Kobal Collection.