Another Smith for Paradise

Canada 1972. Dir: Tom Shandel. 103 min. DCP

XI. Early Independents
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Vancouver writer-director Tom Shandel’s spirited social comedy, made for $200,000, takes satirical swipes at the business, academic, and arts communities and at ethnic enclaves. Henry Ramer plays Sonny Shewchuk, an ambitious Ukrainian-Canadian stockbroker who decides that the road to professional success is through cultural assimilation. He adapts an Anglo name — Harold Smith, or Smitty — and acquires a WASPy wife (prominent Canadian stage actress Francis Hyland, in an early screen role). But after he’s made it to the top, “Smitty” is ready to reclaim his ethnic heritage — and, heck, save some money on his taxes — by endowing a university building in the name of a 17th-century Ukrainian warlord, with hilarious results. Ukrainian-Canadians, it is said, were not amused by the film’s satire. A contemporary review by Vancouver Province critic Michael Walsh deemed Shandel’s comedy “a happy surprise.” DCP courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.

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Guest in attendance: Tom Shandel

Introduced by Curtis Woloschuk, Associate Director of Programming, VIFF