CBC gem from 1978 shines Saturday at archival screening

On Saturday, May 5, it will be my privilege to help salute a rare, 40-year-old CBC teleplay: The Making of a President.

The hour-long drama, which has nothing to do with the similarly-titled American election chronicles of Theodore H. White, has been kept in a deep corner of the CBC vaults since it aired in 1978. A restored and perfectly-digitized print will be showcased Saturday with two screenings as part of the 2018 Toronto Jewish Film Festival.

Set in wartime Sault Ste. Marie and based on a semi-autobiographical short story by Order of Canada winner Morley Torgov, the TV-movie stars Melvyn Douglas, Nehemiah Persoff, Paul Soles, Paul Kligman, Alfie Scopp, Harvey Atkin and a 15-year-old Mike Myers.

Collie-haired Myers, in one of his first TV roles, is more behaved than usual as a skateboard riding young piano prodigy. Hollywood veteran Douglas does most of the heavy lifting as a Jewish elder trying the impossible — recruiting a new president who can, in Torgov’s words, handle himself “among the goyim” at an upcoming town war bond rally. The town’s new tailor (Soles) — thought of as a bit of a peacock — is seen as the perfect candidate.

TJFF programme director Stuart Hands was kind enough to offer me the job of moderating a panel comprising of Torgov, producer Robert Sherrin, Soles and Air Farce veteran Luba Goy, who appears as Sole’s character’s wife.

Take a trip back to another time in television on Saturday, May 5, with two screenings — each followed by a panel — scheduled for  1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The event takes place at the Spadina Theatre at Alliance Française, 24 Spadina Rd. at Lowther Ave. (Spadina subway station).

For tickets to special events and more information on the many other screenings, follow this link to the TJFF site. The festival continues through May 13.

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