Remastered Duddy Kravitz heads for Cannes screening

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, the 1974 film by Ted Kotcheff based on the book by Mordecai Richler, will be screened at Cannes Film Festival in France as part of its classics selection for 2013.

Ted Kotcheff's 1974 film based on Mordecai Richler's book declared a classic

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, the 1974 film by Ted Kotcheff based on the book by Mordecai Richler, will be screened at Cannes Film Festival in France as part of its classics selection for 2013.

A remastered print of the film will be shown as part of a classics program that features films such as 1963's Cleopatra and 1973's The Last Detail.

Snubbed at Cannes in 1974

The movie was snubbed when Cannes officials picked their official lineup in 1974, after being put forward as the official entry from Canada.  That year, the festival had recently moved to a curated lineup in which the artistic director picked films from a more formal process in which countries put forward their entries.

Director Ted Kotcheff will head to Cannes with his 1974 film, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. (Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler and set on Montreal's St. Urbain Street (the Jewish ghetto) in the '40s, the film chronicles the adventures of a brash, ambitious hustler as he builds his fame and fortune, sometimes at the expense of those he loves the most.

A young Richard Dreyfuss played Duddy, just ahead of his breakout in Jaws, and the casting coup extended to Jack Warden as Duddy's working class father and Joseph Wiseman as his corrupt but loveable uncle Benjy.

It was the first Canadian film picked up by Paramount Pictures, won the 1974 Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival, was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar and won the Screenwriters Guild of America Award for best adapted comedy.

Kotcheff calls for film to be restored

Kotcheff himself set the ball rolling to get the film restored and win attention as a classic film. While accepting his Directors Guild of Canada 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award, Kotcheff issued a challenge:  "Duddy is one of Canada's seminal films, but where is it? It needs to be seen; it needs restoring. What are we going to do about it?" he asked.

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television spearheaded the restoration, locating sponsors willing to pay for digital remastering.  

"The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, one of the greatest Canadian films ever made, has been recognized as a masterpiece and takes its rightful place in Cannes Classics," Academy CEO Helga Stephenson said in a press release.

Kotcheff, a Toronto-born filmmaker who went on to direct North Dallas Forty and TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,  was consulted at every stage of the restoration. He'll be in Cannes when the restored film is screened.

Classics program lines up 23 films

The Cannes Classics program, which presents old films and masterpieces from cinematographic history that have been carefully restored, was created in 2004. A total of 20 classic feature films and three documentaries are to be shown this year.

Kim Novak is presenting a restored print of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and there will be a tribute to Joanne Woodward with the screening of the final film she produced 2013's Shepard & Dark.

Other films to be shown in the classics program:

  • Fedora (1978) by Billy Wilder.
  • Goha (1957) by Jacques Baratier.
  • Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) by Alain Resnais.
  • La Grande Bouffe (1973) by Marco Ferreri.
  • La Reine Margot (1994) by Patrice Chéreau
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) by Jacques Demy.
  • Lucky Luciano (1973) by Francesco Rosi.
  • Blazing Sun, (1960) by René Clément.
  • The Last Emperor 3D (1987) by Bernardo Bertolucci.