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Monday, December 11, 2017

The 1974 Movie "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz"

The Canadian movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz was released in 1974. The movie was adapted from a 1959 novel written by a Jewish novelist named Mordecai Richler. The movie portrays a young secular-Jewish man who works as a waiter in a summer resort that serves mostly Jewish guests.

The movie enjoyed some critical praise. It was nominated for the Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film. The movie did win the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium.

In 1973, Eleanor Bergstein published her first novel, Advancing Paul Newman, which I have discussed in previous posts. Bergstein's novel was read by a young producer, Claudia Weill, who liked it so much that she tried relentlessly during the following four years to convince Bergstein to write a screenplay for her. Eventually Bergstein agreed and wrote the screenplay for Weill's movie It's My Turn, which was released in 1978.

During the mid-1970s, therefore, when novelist Bergstein was thinking about becoming a screenwriter, the adaptation of Richler's novel into a successful 1974 movie probably interested both Bergstein and Weil. Their interest would have been heightened by the fact that Richler's story takes place within a secular Jewish family. Both Bergstein and Weil were secular Jews, and their movie It's My Turn takes place within a secular Jewish family.

The 1974 movie Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz enjoyed such continuing interest that it was adapted into a stage musical, which premiered in 1984.

In that same year, 1984, Bergstein was trying to develop a story for her second movie. In a previous post, My Speculation About the Construction of the Story. There I argued that Bergstein constructed her story through the following stages:
The movie will revolve around sexy dancing.

The movie will be about two women -- a professional dancer and an amateur dancer.

The professional dancer gets an abortion.

The movie will portray the consequences of laws that prohibit abortion.

The story will take place before 1973.

The two women will be Penny Johnson and Vivian Pressman.

Penny became pregnant from a non-dancer.

The story will take place at a Catskill resort.

The Houseman family enters the story.
I figured that Bergstein reached the penultimate stage -- The story will take place at a Catskill resort -- in about late 1984 or early 1985. In the summer of 1985 she traveled to the Catskills to interview employees of Jewish resorts. Perhaps the news that Richler's Apprenticeship story had been adapted into a 1984 musical prompted Bergstein to begin thinking that her own new story should take place at a Jewish resort.

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Several elements of Richler's Apprenticeship story resonate with Bergstein's Dirty Dancing story.
The main character, Duddy Kravitz, feels intellectually and socially inferior to his brother, who is a medical student.

Instead of going to college, Duddy aspires to make his living as an entrepreneur.

Duddy works as a waiter in a summer resort where most of the guests are Jews.

Another waiter is a condescending college student and becomes Duddy's enemy.

Duddy, who is Jewish, becomes romantically involved with a Gentile young woman.

Many of the movie's events take place near a lake.

An important subplot involves gambling at the resort.
You can read a sequential and detailed summary of the movie's plot in the Wikipedia article about the movie.

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The movie's main character Duddy was played by Richard Dreyfuss, who subsequently was nominated for the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor. Another character was played by the then young actor Randy Quaid.

The following video shows the movie's trailer.


The following clip shows Duddy talking with his Jewish uncle (who owns a garment factory) and with his Jewish grandfather.


You can watch the entire movie on YouTube.


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The following video shows an advertisement for a recent version of the stage musical.

The Song "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins

Baby Houseman and Johnny Houseman are lying in bed during the night before the talent show. He decides to tell her about the dream he had about her father during the previous night. He puts the Five Satins' song "In the Still of the Night" onto his record player.


The song's lyrics:
In the still of the night
I held you,
Held you tight,
Because I love,
Love you so.

I promise I'll never let you go --
In the still of the night.

I remember that night in May.
The stars were bright above
I'll hope and I'll pray
To keep your precious love.

Well before the light
Hold me again with all of your might
In the still of the night.
The song -- combined with his dream story about Jake embracing him -- indicates that Johnny is thinking about making his romantic relationship with Baby permanent.

The rhymes are simple -- night-tight-light-might and love-above. The song beautifully sketches feelings of relaxation and love after sex during a quiet night.

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The Wikipedia article about the song includes the following passages.
"In the Still of the Night" ... is a song written by Fred Parris and recorded by his Five Satins. While only a moderate hit when first released (peaking at #24 on the national pop charts), it has received considerable airplay over the years and is notable as one of the best known doo-wop songs, recorded by artists such as Boyz II Men and Debbie Gibson. It is heard in several films, such as The Buddy Holly Story and Dirty Dancing.

The song was recorded in the Saint Bernadette Catholic School basement in New Haven, Connecticut, in February, 1956. Marty Kugell produced the song. The saxophone solo was played by Vinny Mazzetta, of New Haven.The rhythm section was Doug Murray, bass, Bobby Mapp, drums and Curlee Glover, piano.

It was originally released as a B-side (to "The Jones Girl", a play on the Mills Brothers' 1954 hit, "The Jones Boy") on Kugell's Standard Records label. Although the single was only a moderate hit ... its reputation came to surpass its original chart placement. For three decades, the single almost always topped the influential Top 500 Songs countdown on oldies radio station WCBS-FM. ....

In April 2010, the song ranked #90 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". (The song was included on the highly influential 1959 LP Oldies But Goodies on Original Sound.)

"In the Still of the Night" is the only song to have charted on the Billboard Hot 100 three separate times, by the same artist with the same version each time. After initially reaching #24 in 1956, it was released again in 1960 and reached #81. Then more than a year later in 1961 it reached #99.

"In the Still of the Night" is one of two songs that may lay claim to being the origin of the term doo-wop. The plaintive doo wop, doo wah refrain in the bridge has often been suggested as the origin of the term to describe that musical genre. (The other contender for the honor is "When You Dance" by the Turbans, in which the chant "doo-wop" can be heard.)

The Wikipedia article about the Five Satins includes the following passages.
The group, formed in New Haven, Connecticut, ... in 1954. ...

The group recorded "In the Still of the Night", a very big hit in the United States ... "In The Still Of The Night" ended up charting at number three on the Rhythm-and-Blues chart and number 25 on the pop charts. ...

"In The Still of the Night" became an even bigger hit when it appeared as the lead track on Original Sound Records' OLDIES BUT GOODIES Vol.1 ... released in 1959. In total, their signature track sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

A case of painfully bad timing affected the group's lead singer. Uncle Sam had come calling, and [lead singer Fred] Parris entered the Army very soon after the huge success of "In The Still Of The Night", forcing the group to reorganize ....

Upon Parris' return from the Army, a new lineup was assembled, consisting of Parris, Lou Peebles (who was in a previous incarnation of the Five Satins), Sylvester Hopkins, Richie Freeman and Wes Forbes. ...

They continued recording into the 1980s ... In 1981, a "Medley Craze" had suddenly engulfed Top 40 radio ... Noticing this new trend, longtime Connecticut music producer Marty Markiewicz (who'd known Parris personally for many years), [and was] working for Elektra Records ... He got an idea. He both asked for and was given permission by his employer to bring Parris and company in, on each's own time, to record/produce a medley of classic '50s hits. Just to see what would come out of it. .... In response to their successful medley, Elektra requested a full LP. ... The result was "Memories Of Days Gone By" (Elektra 47411), which became the group's first new entry on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1960.
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The following video shows the Five Satins singing the song in the 1959 movie Sweet Beat.


Below is Paul Anka's recording of the song in 1969.


Below is the Beach Boys' recording of the song in 1976.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Michael Lloyd, the Movie's Music Supervisor

The website CBC Radio has published a post with an audio recording of an interview between Tom Power and Michael Lloyd, the music supervisor of Dirty Dancing.


The post says:
If you were around in the summer of 1987, chances are you probably heard the songs from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack everywhere.

The film, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, boasts one of the most iconic and best-selling soundtracks of all time — and MIchael Lloyd had a lot to do with that. He was the music supervisor and was around for the recording of classics like "(I've Had) the Time of my Life" and "She's Like the Wind."

Today, Lloyd speaks to Tom Power about how he got involved with the project, the making of the famous soundtrack and working with actor Patrick Swayze.
The interview lasts for about 18 minutes.

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The Wikipedia article about Lloyd is very impressive. He got an early start on his music career.
Born in New York City, Michael Lloyd learned classical piano and guitar as a child. By the age of 13, he formed his own band in high school, at the same time as continuing to take lessons in music theory and composition.

He also started writing songs and pitching them to record labels in Los Angeles, including Tower Records, a subsidiary of Capitol. ... Lloyd also recorded surf music as a member of the New Dimensions, a group that included Jimmy Greenspoon, later of Three Dog Night.

Around 1964, Lloyd began performing with brothers Shaun and Danny Harris, who attended Hollywood Professional School with Lloyd. Together they formed a group initially called the Rogues, later renamed the Laughing Wind ...

Lloyd also provided the music for Steven Spielberg's first short film, Amblin', and worked ... on other movie soundtracks, including The Devil's 8 (1969). ....
He was born in 1948, so he was 21 years old in 1969. From there, his music career went from success to success.

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The below video shows Lloyd talking about the song-writing business.


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Here is a link to another, written interview of Lloyd, about songwriting.