The world of Duddy Kravitz
SEE! Duddy's stupendous plunge into the movie business SEE! The famous director with a secret past SEE! Zulu dances— in a film about a bar-mitzvah yet?
Where does a guy start, Duddy thought. Where and how?
He read enviously about the real-estate boom in Toronto and of men who had bought land as farms and sold it at twenty to thirty cents a square foot two months later. Other guys had gone prospecting for uranium in Labrador and come back with a mint. Television, he had heard, was the coming thing. Once the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation really got going people would be buying TV sets like crazy. Dealers had already made a fortune in the States.
Duddy got an appointment with the representative of a big American firm and tried to get an agency, but the man, obviously amused, asked Duddy how much selling experience he had had, what his education was. did he own a car and how much capital was he willing to invest in stock. He told Duddy that he was too
young and advised him to try for something smaller. "You can’t run before you learn how to walk.” he said. So Duddy grew a mustache and began to take the Reader’s Digest and work hard on How To Increase Your Word Power. He also came to an arrangement with his father about the taxi. While Max slept Duddy drove.
Duddy drove the cab around Montreal at night and during the day he got a job selling liquid soap and toilet supplies to factories. He usually slept from four to six and at a quarter to seven he drove down to Wellington College, where he was taking a course in business administration.
He joined the cine-club at Wellington and that’s where he met Peter John Friar, the distinguished director of documentary films. Mr. Friar had come to Wellington to speak on Italian Neo-Realism—What Next? He had a lot to say against Hollywood (it was a soul-killing
place, he said) and he seemed to be against something called the witch hunt, but Duddy wasn't sure. Mr. Friar had a difficult British accent and he spoke softly. There was a question period after he was finished and Mr. Friar was asked point blank did he think Houston had gone permanently commercial and what had become of Sir Arthur Elton?
Afterward Duddy pulled him aside. "I'm going into the film business here myself soon anil there's something I’d like to talk over with you.” he said.
Mr. Friar checked his smile. Irving Thalberg, he remembered, had been only twenty-two when he took over MGM. and besides the most surprising people had money in Canada. "Why don’t we have a drink together,” he said.
They went to a bar around the corner and Mr. Friar immediately ordered a double gin and tonic. continued on page 44
continued on page 44
The world of Duddy Kravitz continued from page 19
“I demand a completely free hand/’ said Friar. “I tolerate no interference with my integrity”
“Your talk was a pleasure,” Duddy said. "It was very educational.”
"Jolly decent of you to say so.”
Duddy hesitated. The palms of his hands began to sweat. "I hope you like it here. Montreal,” he said, "is the world’s largest inland seaport.”
Mr. Friar lifted his glass and gave Duddy an encouraging smile.
Peter John Friar was a small, pearshaped man with a massive head and a fidgety red face. His greying hair was thin but disheveled and there were little deposits of dandruff on his coat collar. He seemed especially fond of stroking his greying Vandyke beard, knitting his fierce eyebrows, and — squinting against the smoke of a cigarette burnt perilously close to his lips—nodding as he said, “Mm. Mm-hmm.” He wore a green tweed suit and a shirt with a stiff collar. Duddy figured him for forty-forty-five and something of a lush maybe. He had those kind of jerky hands and the heavily veined nose.
"Have another on me,” Mr. Friar said.
“No, thanks. But you go right ahead.”
Duddy wanted to ask Mr. Friar for advice, but lots of drinks were consumed before he got a chance to say anything. Mr. Friar, stammering a little, told him about the documentary he made for an oil company in Venezuela. It had been shown at the Edinburgh Festival and had won a prize in Turkey, but even though he had directed it. his name was not actually on the picture for a dark reason he only hinted at. Mr. Friar had come to Canada from Mexico to work for the National Film Board, actually, hut he was having trouble again because he was a left winger. An outspoken one. Temporarily, he said, he was at liberty. “Grierson,” he said, “is madly determined for me to come to Ottawa, but . . ."
“Jeez,” Duddy said. “I feel a bit embarrassed now to bother such a BTO with my plans.”
"Dear me. Why?"
“Naw. You wouldn't like it. They’re what you called . . . commercial.”
“Let’s have another. But this one’s on me, old chap.”
So they ordered another round.
Duddy said there was plenty of money around these days. He told him about his idea to make films of weddings and bar-mitzvahs.
“A splendid notion.”
But that, Duddy said, would only be a beginning. He wanted to investigate the whole field of industrial films and one day he hoped to make real features. He had under contract, in fact, Canada's leading comedian, and next week he was going to meet a potential big backer.
“Listen,” Duddy said, “I’m no xlmook. I can see you’re a very sensitive man. I know you couldn't care less about making films of weddings and bar-mitzvalis but if you could help me with advice about equipment and costs I would certainly appreciate it. I'd he willing to show my appreciation too.”
Mr. Friar waved his hands in protest. “Have you any interested clients?" he asked.
"I have two orders in hand,” he said, “and a long list of weddings and barmitzvalis that are coming up soon. All I need is to get started.”
"1 just might be interested. You see.” Mr. Friar said, “it so happens that for years I have been absorbed in folklore and tribal customs in every shape and form. I'm not unfamiliar with Hebraic rituals, you know. Your people have suffered so much. The lore is rich.”
“The record of a wedding or bar-mitzvali needn't be crassly commercial. We could concentrate on the symbolism inherent in the ceremony.”
“They’d have to be in color. That would he a big selling point.”
"I say,” Mr. Friar said, “there's one thing I like to warn every producer about before I start on a project. I demand a completely free hand. 1 will tolerate no interference with my artistic integrity.”
“I don't know a camera lens from a hole in the ground, so stop worrying. But look. Mr. F'riar, I’ve got a feeling that the important thing about this kind of movie is not the symbolism like, hut to get as many relatives and friends into it as humanly poss—”
“That,” Mr. Friar said, "is exactly what I mean,” and he leaped up and started out of the bar.
"Hey, wait a minute," Duddy shouted, starting after him. The waiter stepped in front of Duddy. “You wait a minute, buster.”
The bill came to seven dollars. Duddy paid it and hurried outside. He caught up with Mr. Friar at the corner of Sherbrooke Street.
“Have you ever got a temper. Jeez.”
"In my day, Kravitz, I’ve thrown more than one bloody producer off a set.”
“If I could only learn to be as obsequious as Hitchcock I wouldn’t be where I am today,”
Duddy could see that Mr. Friar’s eyes were red. He took his arm.
“1 have no home,” Mr. Friar said. “I’m a vagabond.”
“Listen. I'm starved. Why don’t we go in here and grab a smoked meat? My treat.”
“I’m going back to my flat.”
“Where is it? I’ll walk you.”
"You are tenacious, Kravitz, aren’t you?”
“I’d really like to he alone now. Sorry, old chap.”
“Aren’t you interested in my project any more?”
Mr. Friar hesitated. He swayed a little. “Tell you what, Kravitz. You come to my Hat tomorrow at four. We can talk some more then.” He gave Duddy his address and shook hands with him. “Hasta mañana," he said.
Mr. Friar lived in an apartment on Stanley Street and Duddy was there promptly at four the next afternoon. He had brought a bottle of gin with him. There was no bell on the door and Duddy had to knock again and again.
Mr. Friar was in the nude.
Every drawer in the living-room-cumbedroom was open and dripping underwear or shirtsleeves. One wall was completely covered with bullfighting posters.
"It’s not my Hat. actually. It belongs to Gilchrist, lie was my lag at Winchester. Well. Kravitz, sit down.”
Mr. Friar freed a couple of glasses without too much clatter from the pile of pots and pans in the sink, wiped the lipstick off one with the corner of his sheet, and poured two drinks. He knocked all the magazines off the coffee table with a scythe-like sweep of hairy leg and set down a tray of ice cubes beside the bottle.
“Cheers,” Duddy said quickly.
But Duddy continued to stare. Mr. Friar sighed, retrieved a magazine from the floor, and covered himself with it.
Duddy began to talk quickly, before Mr. Friar could begin on his reminiscences once more. He told him that he had no equipment and not the vaguest notion of the production costs of a har-mitzvah picture. Mr. Triar, speaking frankly, could be of invaluable service to him. Duddy explained that he was the one with the connections and it was he who would risk his capital on equipment. “But you’re the guy with the know-how.” he said, and he offered Mr. Friar one third of all the profits. “We can help each other,” he said. “And if you don’t trust me the books will be open to you any time you like,”
“Your glass is empty.” Mr. Friar poured two still th inks.
“Prosit" Duddy said quickly.
Mr. Friar told Duddy that he was not interested in money. All he wanted was enough to keep him and a guarantee of noninterference.
"You’ve got a deal,” Duddy said.
"One moment, please. There’s another stipulation. 1 won’t be bound by any contract. I’m a vagabond, Kravitz. I’ve got the mark of Cain on my forehead. 1 must be free to get up and go at any time."
And then Mr. Friar became very busi-
nesslike. He told Duddy that to begin with they ought to buy their own camera hut rent everything else they needed. He said that he knew lots of people at the Film Board in Ottawa and he was sure that they would let him edit and process the film there. That, he said, would be a substantial saving. He told Duddy he’d need five hundred dollars down toward equipment and he asked for an advance of one hundred dollars against personal expenses.
"Let me refresh your drink.”
Duddy told Mr. Friar that he had his eye on an office in the Empire Building. First thing tomorrow morning he would put down a deposit on it. He would have DUDLEY KANE ENTERPRISES printed on the glazed glass door and, since the Empire Building was in the Monarch exchange area anyway he would pay a little, if necessary, to get a phone number that spelt MOVIES and then he could advertise “Dial MOVIES” in all the newspapers.
Another thing. Duddy added, is that he
wanted Mr. Friar to give him a write-up on his past work and stuff. He hoped to get a story in the Star and maybe a paragraph in Mel West's What's What.
After a few more drinks Duddy couldsee that Mr. Friar’s eyes were red again and he began to worry.
“I should have followed my brother into the FO.” Mr. Friar said. "Winchester and King’s did me no good in Hollywood. 1 couldn't speak Yiddish.”
Mr. Friar wiped his eyes and poured himself another drink, straight gin this
time. "It's no good. Kravitz. I can't do this to you."
“You're young. I have no right to ruin what promises to be a brilliant career even before it's begun."
Duddy looked puzzled.
"I'm afraid I've been concealing something from you. old chap. I'm a Communist.”
"I believe in the brotherhood of man."
“Me too." Duddy said forcefully. "Do unto your neighbor . . . Aw, you know."
"I am a card-holder," Mr. Friar said in a booming voice. He stood up and the magazine dropped to the floor. "I tell you that here, but no committee could drag it out of me with wild horses. Do you realize what that means?" Mr. Friar touched Duddy's knee. He lowered his voice. “I lied the United States one step ahead of the FBI. I'm on the black list."
"I must be. I've never attempted to conceal my beliefs."
‘‘Don't you see. Kravitz? I will not
direct again without a credit. But if you hire me it’s likely that you'll never be able to work in Hollywood. Don't hesitate. I'll understand perfectly if you want to call the deal off.”
“We’re partners, Mr. Friar. Shake.” Duddy saw Mr. Friar daily after that, but the next time he came he only brought a half bottle of gin. On Monday Duddy moved into his office. He took a subscription to Variety and, quickly adapting himself to the idiom of the trade, learned to think of himself as an “indie.”
He waited until the paragraph he wanted had appeared in Mel West’s column before he went to see Mr. Cohen about his son’s hur-mitznih. He had kept putting the visit off because if Mr. Cohen was not interested he was in trouble. Mr. Friar was anxious to get started. “You told me you had two orders.” he said. “Sure. Sure tiling.”
If Mr. Cohen didn't bite. Duddy would be in bad trouble. The office cost him a hundred dollars a month and. added to that, there was the price of standard office equipment. He had to give up driving the taxi when Max was off. One night he had just avoided getting Färber for a fare. He could not approach people as a budding businessman by day and take their lips by night. Duddy carried on selling liquid soap and other factory supplies, but that didn't bring in much. He continued to pursue his father about arranging an appointment with Jerry Dingleman, the Boy Wonder, whom he hoped would back his movie making, and soothing Mr. Friar consumed lots of his time.
DUDDY was late for his appointment with Mr. Cohen.
“Sure. That's right, Duddy. My Bernie’s going to be bar-mitzyah in three weeks’ time. I'm sorry 1 couldn't ask you to the dinner, but . . . well, you know. At second cousins wc put a stop to it. Listen, come to the ceremony anyway and have a schnapps.”
Duddy showed him the write-up in the Star and the paragraph from Mel West’s colum .. He told him that when Farber’s daughter got married he was making a movie of it. He went on and on hopefully about Mr. Friar, and how lucky he was to have such a talented director. "All my productions will be in color. A lasting record like," lie said. “For your grandchildren and their grandchildren after them.”
"It's okay for barber. His girl's marrying into the Gordons. They can afford it."
"You say that without even asking me a price. I'll bet you think it would cost you something like three thousand dollars for the movie."
"What? Are you crazy? Do you know how much it’s costing me just for the catering?”
"You see. But it wouldn’t cost that much. I can make you a top notch movie for two thousand dollars."
"The boy’s mad."
"But on one condition only. You mustn’t say a word to Färber about the price we made. It s a special.”
"Look, when I want to see a movie I can go to the Locw's for ninety cents. My Bcrnic’s a line kid. but he's no Gary Cooper. I'm sorry, Duddy."
"All right. No hard feelings. I just felt that since Bernie is such a good friend of the Seigal boy and I'm doing that barmitzyah in December—”
"That cheapskate Seigal is paying you two thousand dollars for a movie?”
"He should live so long I d make him such a price. Well. I'd better go. I’ve got another appointment at eleven."
"All right, smart guy. Sit down. Come on. Sit down. You're trembling like a leaf anyway. There, that's better. I oughta slap your face."
"1 happen to know that you're not making a movie for Seigal. Okay?"
"Are you calling me a liar?" Duddy demanded in his boldest voice.
"Sit down. Stop jumping around. Boy, some kid you are. Now. for a starter, how do I even know that a kid who’s still wet . . . wet? . . . soaking behind the ears
can make a movie?”
“Mr. Friar is a very experienced director.”
“Sure. He’s Louis B. Mayer himself. Duddy, Duddy, what’s he doing here making bar-mitzvali pictures with ... a
“Have you got lots of money invested?”
“It’s going to work. It’s a great idea.” Mr. Cohen sent out for coffee. “Okay, Duddy, we'll see. I want you to tell me straight how much it would cost you to make a color movie of the bar-mitzvah."
Duddy asked for a pencil and paper. “About nine hundred to a thousand,” he said at last.
“Lies. You lie through your cars, Duddy. Okay, your costs are six hundred dollars let’s say.”
“Shcttup! I’d like to see you get a start and I'll make you a deal. You go ahead and make me a film of Bernie’s barmitzvah. If I like it I'll give you a thousand dollars for it. If not you can go and burn it.”
Duddy took a deep breath.
"Before you answer remember I should have thrown you out of the office for lying to me. Think, too, of the prestige you'd get. The first production for Cohen. 1 could bring you in a lot of trade. But it's a gamble, Duddy. I’m a harsh critic. There are many academy-award winners I didn’t like and if I don't care for the picture . . .”
“I can make you a black-and-white for twelve hundred dollars.”
“Get out of here.”
“Look, Mr. Cohen, this is a real production. I have to pay for the editing and the script and—”
“All right. Twelve hundred. But color. Duddy. And only if I like it. Come here. We'll shake on it. What a liar you are. Wow!”
Mr. Cohen pinched his cheek. “If you're going to see Seigal now about his boy's bar-mitzvah you have my permission to say you're making one for me. Tell him I'm paying you two thousand. He can phone me if he wants. But listen. Duddy. he's not like me. Don’t trust him. Get five hundred down and the rest in writing. Such a liar. Wow!"
Duddy drove for fifteen minutes before he figured out that he had no advance and nothing in writing from Mr. Cohen. The film would cost him at least five hundred dollars—more, when you considered the work and time it would take—and there was no guarantee of a return on his investment. That lousy bastard, Duddy thought, and he makes it sound like he was doing me a favor.
He went to see Seigal at home and his wife talked him into letting Duddy make the picture. Seigal paid an advance of two hundred and fifty dollars and signed an agreement to pay fifteen hundred in all if he liked the film and another six hundred even if he didn't want it. It was a mistake to see Cohen at the office. Duddy thought afterward. You’ve got to get them at home with the wife and boy there.
“When’s the Cohen bar-mitzvah?" Mr. Friar asked.
“Two weeks from Saturday,” Duddy said.
“I’d like to start looking at some of the locations tomorrow."
“Can you take me to the synagogue?” “Yeah, sure.”
“I say, old chap, you do look down
in the mouth,” Friar continued briskly. “We’ve got to hit them with something unusual right in the first frame. Have you ever seen Franju’s Sang des Bêtes?” “I don’t think so.”
“It was a documentary, old chap. A great one. We could do worse than to use it for our model.”
“It’s got to be good, Mr. Friar. Better than good, or I’m dead.”
THE COHEN BOY’S bar-mitzvah was a big affair in a modern synagogue. The synagogue in fact was so modern that it was not called a synagogue any more. It was called a temple. Duddy had never seen anything like it in his life. There was a choir and an organ and a parking lot next door. The men not only did not wear hats but they sat together with the women. All these things were forbidden by traditional Jewish law, but those who attended the temple were so-called Reform Jews and they had modernized the law to suit life in America. The temple prayer services were conducted in English by Rabbi Harvey Goldstone, MA, and Cantor “Sonny” Brown. Aside from his weekly sermon, the marriage clinic, the Sunday school, and so on, the rabbi, a most energetic man, was very active in the community at large. He was a man who unfailingly offered his time to radio stations as a spokesman for the Jewish point of view on subjects that ranged from Does Israel Mean Divided Loyalties? to The Jewish Attitude to Household Pets. He also wrote articles for magazines and a weekly column of religious comfort for the Sun. There was a big demand for Rabbi Goldstone as a public speaker and he always made sure to send copies of his speeches to all the newspapers and radio stations.
Mr. Cohen, who was on the temple executive, was one of the rabbi’s most enthusiastic supporters, but there were some who did not approve. He was, as one magazine writer had put it, a controversial figure.
One dissenter was Duddy’s Uncle Benjy. “There used to be,” he said, “some dignity in being against the synagogue. With a severe orthodox rabbi there were things to quarrel about. There was some pleasure. But this cream puff of a synagogue, this religious drugstore, you might as well spend your life being against the Reader’s Digest. They’ve taken all the mystery out of religion.”
But Mr. Cohen, and other leaders of the community, all took seats at the temple for the High Holidays on, as Mr. Cohen said, the forty-yard line. The rabbi was extremely popular with the young marrieds and that, their parents felt, was important. Otherwise, some said with justice, the children would never learn about their Jewish heritage.
At the bar-mitzvah Mr. Cohen had trouble with his father. The old ragpeddler was, he feared, stumbling on the edge of senility. He still clung to his coldwater fiat on St. Dominique Street and was a fierce follower of a Chassidic rabbi there. He had never been to the temple before. Naturally he would not drive on the Sabbath and so that morning he had got up at six and walked more than five miles to make sure to be on time for the first prayers. As Mr. Friar stood by with his camera to get the three generations together, Mr. Cohen and his son came down the outside steps to greet the old man. The old man stumbled. “Where’s the synagogue?” he asked.
“This is it, Paw. This is the temple.”
1 he old man looked up at the oak doors and the magnificent stained-glass windows. “It’s a church,” he said, retreating.
‘It’s the temple, Paw. This is where Bernie is going to be bar-mitzvah."
“Would the old chap lead him up the steps by the hand?” Mr. Friar asked.
‘’Shettup,” Duddy said.
The old man retreated down another step.
“This is the shut, Paw. Come on.”
“It's a church.”
Mr. Cohen laughed nervously. “Paw! Stop sniffling.” And he led the old man forcefully up the steps. “This isn't a funeral.”
Inside, the services began. “Turn to
page forty-one in your prayer books, please,” Rabbi Goldstone said. “Blessed is the Lord, Our Father . . .”
The elder Cohen began to sniffle again. “Isn't he sweet,” somebody said. “Bernie’s the only grandchild.” Following the bar-mitzvah ceremony Rabbi Goldstone began his sermon. “This,” he said, “is National Sports Week." He spoke on Jewish Athletes— from Bar Koch va to Hank Greenberg. Afterward he had some announcements to make. He reminded the congregation that if they took a look at the racehorse
chart displayed in the hall they would see that Jewish History was trailing Dramatics Night by five lengths. He hoped that more people would attend the next lecture. The concealed organ began to play and the rabbi, his voice quivering, read off an anniversary list of members of the congregation who over the years had departed for the great beyond. He began to read the Mourner’s Prayer as Mr. Friar, his camera held to his eye, tip-toed closer for a medium-close shot.
The elder Cohen had began to weep
again when the first chord had been struck on the organ and Mr. Cohen had had to take him outside. “You lied to me,” he said to his son. “It is a church."
Duddy approached with a glass of water. "You go inside,” he said to Mr. Cohen. Mr. Cohen hesitated. “Go ahead,” Duddy said. “I’ll stay with him.”
Duddy spoke Yiddish to the old man. ‘Tm Simcha Kravitz’s grandson,” he said.
“Is that so?”
“I’ve seen you in his store.”
“Simcha’s grandson and you come here?”
“Some circus, isn't it? Come,” he said, “we’ll go and sit in the sun for a bit.”
A little later Duddy introduced his comedian friend Cuckoo Kaplan to Mr. Friar and Cuckoo did some clowning for the camera. “You've got a natural talent,” Mr. Friar said.
Duddy apologized to Cuckoo because he couldn’t pay him for being in the movie.
“That’s show biz," Cuckoo said.
In the days that followed Duddy began to doubt that there ever would be a movie. Mr. Friar was depressed. His best roll of film had been overexposed. It was useless. The light in the temple was, he said, a disaster. “I say, old chap, couldn’t we re-stage the haftorah sequence?” he said.
"You’re crazy,” Duddy said.
MR. FRIAR went to Ottawa to develop the film at the National Film Board and when Duddy met him at the station three days later Mr. Friar was very happy, indeed. “John thinks this is my greatest film,” he said. “You ought to see the rushes, Kravitz. Splendid!” But Duddy was not allowed to see the rushes. Night and day Mr. Friar worked in secret on the cutting and editing. Duddy pleaded with him. “Can’t I see something? One reel. A half of a reel, even.” But Mr. Friar was adamant. "If I was Eisenstein you wouldn't talk to me like that. You'd have confidence. You must be fair to me, Kravitz. Wait for the finished product.”
Meanwhile Mr. Cohen phoned every morning. "Well?” he asked.
“Soon. Mr. Cohen. Very soon.”
Three weeks after the bar-mitzvah Mr. Friar was ready. He arranged a private screening for Duddy. "I'm beginning to think we'd be making a grave error if we sold this film to Mr. Cohen. It’s a prize winner, Kravitz. I’m sure we could get distribution for it.”
"Will you turn out the lights and let me see it. please?”
Duddy didn't say a word all through the screening, but afterward he was sick to his stomach.
He finally said, “Jeez. I could sell Mr. Cohen a dead horse easier than this pile of—”
“Jf you so much as cut it by one single frame,” Mr. Friar said, “then my name goes oil' the film.”
Duddy began to laugh.
“Timothy suggested we try it at Cannes.”
“Jeez." Duddy said again. “Everyone's going to be there. But everyone. The invitations are all out.”
Duddy took to his bed for two days. He refused to see anyone. On the third day he had decided that he could no longer put off seeing Mr. Cohen. He went to his house this time. “Ah,” Mr. Cohen said, "the producer is here.”
"Have you got the movie with you?" Bernie asked.
Mrs. Cohen poured him a glass of plum brandy. “If you don’t mind,” she
said, “there are a few more names I'd like to add to the guest list.”
"I've got some bad news for you. I'm canceling the screening. Tomorrow morning my secretary will call everyone to tell them the show's off.”
"Aw. gee whiz,” Bernie whined.
"Is it that bad?” Mr. Cohen asked. "It's great. We're going to enter it in the Cannes Festival.”
“I don't understand,” Mrs. Cohen said. "You won't like it. It’s what we call avant-garde.”
"Watch it,” Mr. Cohen said, “this is where he begins to lie. Right before your eyes the price is going up.”
Duddy smiled at Mrs. Cohen. “I suppose what you expected was an ordinary movie with shots of all the relatives and friends . . . well, you know what I mean. But Mr. Friar is an artist. His creation is something else entirely.”
"Can't we see it, Maw?”
"Aren't you taking a lot for granted, young man? Don't you think my husband and I can appreciate artistic quality when we see it?”
"Don’t fall into his trap,” Mr. Cohen said.
Duddy turned to Mr. Cohen. "I'll' let you in on a secret.” he said. He told him that Mr. Friar had been a big director, but he had had to leave Hollywood because of the witch-hunt. That’s the only reason why he w'as in Montreal fiddling with small films. He wanted to make his name and get in on the ground floor of ihe Canadian film industry, so to speak. Turning to Mrs. Cohen, he added, "Please don't repeat this, but if not for Senator McCarthy I wouldn't have been able to hire a man as big as Friar for less than five thousand dollars. Not that he isn't costing me plenty as it is.'
Mr. Cohen started to say something, but his wife glared at him. She smiled at Duddy. "But why can't we see the movie. I don't understand."
“It's different. It's shocking."
“Oh, really now!”
"Mr. Friar has produced a small screen gem in the tradition of Citizen Kane and Franju’s Sang des Bêtes.”
“How can we cancel all the invitations at this late date? We insist on seeing it."
Duddy hesitated. He stared reflectively at the floor. “All right, he said, but don't say I didn't warn you first.
Mr. Cohen laughed. "Don't believe a word he says, Gertie. Its good. It must be very good. Otherwise he wouldn t be here talking it down. But, listen hete, Kravitz, not a penny more than I promised. Wow! What a liar!”
Duddy gulped down his plum brandy. "I’m not selling," he said. “That s something else. You can see it. but . . .
“Hey," Mr. Cohen said, “hey there. Are you getting tough with an old friend?”
“I want it, Daddy,” Bernie put in. “I want the movie! Gee whiz, Maw.
“You outsmarted yourself. Mr. Cohen. You wouldn't give me an advance of put anything in writing.”
“Sam, what’s the boy saying?”
“You gave me your word, Kravitz. A gentleman doesn't go back on his word. Bernie began to cry.
"You can't blame him, Mrs. Cohen. He didn't want to take too big a chance on a young boy just starting out.”
“All right,” Mr. Cohen said hoarsely, "just how much do you want for the film?”
“Money isn't the question.”
“Such a liar! My God, never in my life—will you stop crying please. Take Bernie out of here, Gertie.”
“I'm not going.”
"Well, Kravitz, I’m waiting to hear
your price. Gangster!”
"Please.” Mrs. Cohen said.
"I can't sell outright. I'd still want to enter it in the festival.”
“Of course,” Mrs. Cohen said warmly. “We can't talk here." Mr. Cohen said. “Come up to my bedroom.”
But Duddy wouldn't budge. “For fifteen hundred dollars," he said, “I’ll give you an excellent color print. But you’d have to sign away all rights to a percentage of the profits on Canadian theatre distribution."
“What’s that? Come again, please?” “We’re going to distribute it as a short to Canadian theatres.”
“For twenty-five hundred dollars in all I'll make you a silent partner. I'd cut you in for twenty percent of the net theatre profits. My lawyers could draw up the agreement. But remember, it’s a gamble. This is an art film, not one of those crassly commercial items.”
“Would my husband’s name appear anywhere?”
“We could list him in the credits as a
co-producer with Dudley Kane Enterprises."
Mr. Cohen smiled for the first time. “A boy from the boys," he said, “that’s what you are.”
“Maybe you’d like to think it over first.”
“All right. Okay. I'll write him a cheque right now.” Mr. Cohen looked at Duddy and laughed. "Look at him. lie's shaking.”
After Duddy had left with the cheque Mr. Cohen said, “I could have got it for
less if you and Bernie hadn’t been here.” “Then why are you smiling?” “Because yesterday I spoke to Dave in Toronto. He’s with Columbia of Canada now and he told me a screen short is worth up to twenty thousand dollars. I could have got it for less, it’s true, but in the end it still won’t have cost me a cent for the color print. And think of the publicity. It must be terrific, you know. Otherwise he wouldn’t have talked it down like that. He’s still got a lot to learn, that boy.”
DUDLEY KANE ENTERPRISES
With M. Cohen, Inc., Metal Merchants Presents
A PETER JOHN FRIAR PRODUCTION “HAPPY BAR-MITZVAH, BERNIE!” executive producer d. kravitz directed, written, and narrated by p. j. friar
additional dialogue by rabbi harvey goldstone, m.a.
“So far so good.”
“Would you mind taking off your hat please, Elsie?”
1. A close shot of aged finger leading a thirteen-year-old boy’s hand over the Hebrew letters of a prayer book.
2. Grandfather Cohen is seated at the dining - room table with Bernard, teaching him the tunes of the Torah.
Older than the banks of the Nile, not so cruel as the circumcision rite of the Zulus, and even more intricate than a snowflake is the bar-mitzvah . . .
“Hey, what’s that he said about niggers?”
“—comparative religion. I take it at McGill.”
“Comparative what? I’ll give you such a schoss.”
3. In the synagogue Bernard stands looking at the Holy Ark. His reaction.
Hear O Israel the Lord is Our God the Lord is One.
4. Grandfather Cohen, wearing a prayer shawl, hands the Torah to Mr. Cohen who passes it to his son.
From generation to generation, for years before the birth of Christ...
“Hsssssss . . .”
“O.K. smart guy. Shettup!”
... the rule of law has been passed from hand to hand among the Chosen People. Something priceless, something cherished . ..
“Like a chinchilla.”
“One more crack out of you, Arnie,” Mr. Cohen said, “and out you go."
In the darkness Duddy smiled, relieved.
... a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
5. The wrappings come off and Mr. Cohen holds the Torah aloft.
(Recites in Hebrew) In the beginning God created heaven and earth . . .
6. Camera closes in on Torah.
... In the beginning there was the Word ... There was Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ... There was Moses ...
AS CHOIR HUMS IN BACKGROUND
King David . . . Judas Macabee . . .
CHOIR TO CLIMAX
... and, in our own time, Leon Trotsky .. .
“His bar-mitzvah I would have liked to have seen. Trotsky!”
... in all those years, the Hebrews, whipped like sand by the cruel winds of oppression, have survived by the word . . . the law . . .
7. A close shot of a baby being circumcised.
. . . and through the centuries the eight-day-old Hebrew babe has been welcomed into the race with blood.
TOM-TOMS BEAT IN BACKGROUND. HEIGHTENING.
8. (MONTAGE) Lightning. African tribal dance. Jungle fire. Stukas diving. A jitterbug contest speeded up. Slaughtering of a cow. Fireworks against a night sky. More African dancing. Torrents of rain. An advertisement for Maidenform bras upside down. Blood splashing against glass. A lion roars.
“Are you alright, zeyda?”
DRUMS TO CLIMAX. OUT
9. A slow dissolve to close-up of Bernard Cohen's shining morning face. NARRATOR:
This is the story of one such Hebrew babe, and, how at the age of thirteen he was at last accepted as an adult member of his tribe.
“If you don’t feel well, zeyda, I’ll get you a glass of water.”
This is the story of the bar-mitzvah of Bernard son of Moses . . .
10. A smiling Rabbi Goldstone leads Bernard up the aisle of the temple. In the background second cousins and schoolmates wave and smile at the camera.
“Good,” Duddy said. “Excellent.” He had asked Mr. Friar to work Rabbi Goldstone into every possible shot.
“Look, there I am! Did you see me, Mommy?”
“You see Harry there picking his nose? If he’d known the camera—”
“A big joke!”
11. As Bernard and Rabbi Goldstone reach the prayer stand.
As solemn as the Aztec sacrifice, more mysterious than Helen’s face, is the pregnant moment, the meeting of time past and time present, when the priest and his initiate reach the bimah.
Rabbi Goldstone coughed. “That means priest in the figurative sense.”
“He‘s gone too far,” Duddy groaned. “Jeez.”
(Singing in Hebrew) Blessed is the Lord our God, Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . .
“There, zeyda, isn’t that nice?”
"Oh, leave him alone, Henry.”
"Leave him alone? I think he's had another stroke.”
12. As Bernard says his blessings over the Torah the camera pans around the temple. Aunt Sadie giggles shyly. Ten-year-old Manny Schwartz crosses his eyes and sticks out his tongue. Grandfather Cohen looks severe. Mr. Cohen wipes what just might be a tear from his eye. Uncle Arnie whispers into a man’s ear. The man grins widely.
13. A close shot of Bernard saying bis blessings. The camera moves in slowly on his eyes.
BRING IN TOM-TOMS AGAIN.
14. Cut to a close shot of circumcision again.
"It’s not me,” Bernie shouted. "Honest, guys."
15. Resume shot of Bernard saying his haftorah.
The young Hebrew, now a fully accepted member of his tribe, is instructed in the ways of the world by his religious advisor.
16. A two-shot of Rabbi Goldstone and Bernard.
‘Beginning today,’ the Rabbi tells him, ‘you are old enough to be responsible for your own sins. Your father no longer takes them on his shoulders.’
AS CHOIR HUMS ELGAR’S POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
17. Camera pans round temple again. Cutting back again and again to Bernard and the Rabbi.
SUPERIMPOSE KIPLING’S ‘IF’ OVER THE ABOVE.
‘Today you are a man, Bernard son of Moses.’
18. ( MON TAGE ) Lightning. Close shot of head of Michelangelo's statue of David. Cartoon of a Thurber husband.
A frican tribal dance.
"Zeyda, one minute.”
"You'd better go with him, Henry.”
Soldiers marching speeded up. Circumcision close-up again.
Duddy bit bis hand. T he sweat rolled down his forehead.
"This is meant to be serious, Arnie. Oh, he's such a fool.”
A lion roars. Close shot of Bernard's left eye. A pair of black panties catch fire. Lightning. African tribal dance. NARRATOR:
Today you are a man and your family and friends have come to celebrate.
GULSEPPl DE STEPHANO SINGS DRINKING SONG FROM LA TRAV1ATA.
19. Close shot of hands pouring a large Scotch.
20. Cut to general shots of guests at temple kiddush.
“There 1 am!”
“Look at Sammy, stuffing his big fat face as usual.”
“There l am again!"
“What took you so long, Henry?” “Did 1 miss anything?"
“Aw. Where's the zeyda?"
“He’s sitting outside in the car. Hey, was that me?”
‘Td like to see this part again later, please.”
“Second the motion.” NARRATOR:
Those who couldn’t come sent telegrams.
21. Hold a shot of telegrams pinned against green background.
AS CHOIR HUMS ‘AULD LANG SYNE’ NARRATOR:
HAPPY BAR - MITZVAH. BERNIE. BEST UNCLE HER BY . . . ’ ‘MAY YOUR LIFE BE HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL. THE SHAPIRO BROTHERS AND MY RNA.’ ‘ . . . BEST WISHES FOR HEALTH, HAPPINESS, AND SUCCESS FROM THE WINNIPEG BRANCH OF THE COHENS. SURPRISE PARCEL FOLLOWS.’ ’ . . . MY HEART GOES OUT TO YOU AND YOURS TODAY. MYER.’ . . .
“You notice Lou sent only a greetings telegram? You get a special rate.”
"He’s had a bad year, that’s all. Lay off, Molly.”
“A bad year! He comes from your side of the family you mean."
Those who came did not come empty-handed.
“Try it some time.”
They came with tributes for the boy who had come of age.
22. Camera pans over a table laden with gifts. Revealed are four Parker 5 I sets, an electric razor, a portable record player . . .
“Murray got the player wholesale through his brother-in-law."
. . . three toilet sets, two copies of Tom Sawyer, five subscriptions to the National Geographic Magazine, a movie projector, a fishing rod and other angling equipment, three cameras, a season’s ticket to hockey games at the forum, a set of phylacteries and a prayer shawl, a rubber dinghy, a savings - account book open at a first deposit of five hundred dollars, six sport shirts, an elaborate chemistry set, a pile of fifty silver dollars in a velvet-lined box. at least ten credit slips (worth from twenty to a hundred dollars each) for Eaton’s and Morgan’s, two sets of H. G. Wells’ History of the World . . .
AS CHOIR SINGS ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BERNIE!’
23. Hold a shot of numerous cheques pinned to a board. Spin it.
“Dave’s cheque is only for twentyfive bucks. Do you know how much business be gets out of Cohen every year?"
“If it had been Lou you would have said he had a bad year. Admit it."
"Hey. Bernie.” Arnie yelled, "how many of those cheques bounced? You can tell us."
“I was grateful for all of them,” Bernie said, "large or small. It’s the thought that counts with me."
“Isn’t he sweet?"
"Sure," Arnie said, “but he could have told me that before.”
24. A shot of Rabbi Goldstone's study. Bernard sits in an enormous leather chair and the rabbi paces up and down, talking to him.
But that afternoon, in the good rabbi’s study, the young Hebrew learns that there are more exalted things in this world besides material possessions. He is told something of the tragic history of his race, how they were exploited by the ancient Egyptian imperialists, how reactionary dictators from Nero to Hitler persecuted them in order to divert the working classes from the true cause of their sorrows,
he learns — like Candide — that all is not for the best in the best of all possible worlds.
AS AL JOLSON SINGS ELI, ELI
25. Rabbi Goldstone leads Bernard to the window and stands behind him, his hands resting on the lad’s shoulders.
“Five’ll get you ten that right now he’s asking Bcrnie to remind his father that the temple building campaign is lagging behind schedule.”
Rabbi Goldstone coughed loudly.
(RECITES) ‘I am a Jew: hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same oils, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick him does he not bleed?
26. Rabbi Goldstone autographs a copy of his book, Why I'm Glad To Be A Jew, and hands it to Bernard.
27. Hold a close shot of the book.
From there the movie went on to record merry making and the odd touching interlude at the dinner and dance. Relatives and friends saw themselves eating, drinking, and dancing. Uncles and aunts at the tables waved at the camera, the kids made funny faces, and the old people sat stonily. Cuckoo Kaplan did a soft-shoe dance on the head table. As the camera closed in on the dancers Henry pretended to be seducing Morrie Appiebaum’s wife. Mr. Cohen had a word with the band leader and the first kazatclika was played. Timidly the old people joined hands and began to dance around in a circle. Mr. Cohen and some spirited others joined in the second one. Duddy noticed some intruders at the sandwich table. He did not know them by name or sight, but, remembering, he recognized that they were boys from Fletcher’s Field High School and he smiled a little. The camera panned lovingly about fish and jugs and animals modeled out of ice. It closed in and swallowed the bursting trumpeter. Guests were picked up again, some reeling and others bad-tempered, waiting for taxis and husbands to come round with the car outside the temple.
And Mr. Cohen, sitting in the first row with his legs open like an inverted nutcracker to accommodate his sunken belly, thought, it’s worth it, every last cent or what’s money for, it’s cheap at any price to have captured my family and friends and foolish rabbi. He reached for Gertie's hand and thought, I'd better not kiss Bernie. It would embarrass him.
AS CHOIR SINGS HALLELUJAH CHORUS
74. Rear-view long shot. Mr. Cohen and Bernard standing before the offices of M. Cohen, Inc., Metal Merchants.
Nobody spoke. Duddy began to bite his fingernails.
"A most edifying experience,” Rabbi Goldstone said. “A work of art.”
Everybody began lo speak at once.
“Thank you very much, indeed,"’ Mr. Friar said. “Unfortunately the best parts were left on the cutting-room floor.” ^
This is the second of two excerpts from Mordecai Richters new novel. The Apprenticeship of Daddy Kravitz, to he published by Andre Dentsch-Collins of Canada in October.