Old Nat Moyer is a talker, a philosopher, and a troublemaker with a fanciful imagination. His companion is Midge Carter, who is half-blind, but still the super of an apartment house. When ...
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Old Nat Moyer is a talker, a philosopher, and a troublemaker with a fanciful imagination. His companion is Midge Carter, who is half-blind, but still the super of an apartment house. When he is threatened with retirement, Nat battles on his behalf. Nat also takes on his daughter, a drug dealer, and a mugger in this appealing version of a really 'odd couple'.Written by
Derek Picken <email@example.com>
The original Broadway production of "I'm Not Rappaport" opened on Novemeber 19, 1985 at the Boothe Theater and ran for 891 performances. Herb Gardner wrote both the stage play and the screen play for the movie version and won the 1986 Tony award for Best Play. Judd Hirsch won the 1986 Tony Award for best Actor for his role as Nat Moyer, that was played in the movie by Walter Matthau. See more »
In the scene where Nat Moyer (Walter Matthau) says to Midge Carter (Ossie Davis), "My God, you're black!" He stands up and puts on some black glasses. When the two start laughing, Nat takes his glasses off and sits back down. When the camera is then on Carter, it shows the back of Nat's head and the glasses are back on his face. See more »
In I'm Not Rappaport, a film by Herb Gardner based on his Tony award winning play, two octogenarians Nat (Walter Matthau) and Midge (Ossie Davis) meet regularly on a park bench in New York's Central Park. The film centers on their relationship as they reminisce about past loves, talk about unions and bosses, old age, and idealism. Nat is a chameleon who assumes the role of spy, lawyer, or consumer advocate, depending on the situation at hand. `I was one person for 80 something years,' he says. `Why not be a hundred for the next five?' Midge, now nearly blind, has worked as a building superintendent for forty years and has had to make compromises just to keep his job.
The film takes its title from the old vaudeville joke in which a comic walks across the stage and encounters a straight man with surprise: `Rappaport! What happened to you?' he says. `You used to be a short, fat man and now you're a tall, skinny man.' `I'm not Rappaport,' says the straight man. And this goes on for a couple of minutes until the comic says, `Rappaport, you used to be so well dressed and clean and now you're dressed in filthy old clothes.' `I'm not Rappaport,' says the straight man. `So you changed your name too!' says the comic.
Nat's most vivid remembrance is that of a meeting when he was five years old in which a passionate woman, Clara Lemlich (Elina Lowensohn), summoned the Ladies Garment Workers Union to participate in a general strike. He is a follower of radical left-wing causes who focuses his remaining energy and considerable wit on helping others facing injustice. Midge doesn't want any part of social activism but, when the spokesman for the tenant's committee threatens to eliminate his job and apartment dwelling, Nat pretends that he is Midge's lawyer and intervenes, making clear that the issue is a society that underestimates and mistreats its senior citizens. In another sequence, Nat pretends he is a consumer spokesman and brazenly marks down the price of meats and groceries in the local supermarket until he is thrown out on his ear.
Things take on a darker tone, however, when a local hood, J.C. (Guermo Diaz) seeks protection money from the elderly. The pair also becomes involved with drug dealer "Cowboy" (Craig T. Nelson) who threatens street artist Laurie (Martha Plimpton) with physical harm if she doesn't pay him the money she owes for drugs. These two episodes are the least effective in the film and do not add much to our understanding of the characters. The most touching sequence, however, is when Nat's schemes are revealed as a desperate attempt to maintain his independence from his daughter Clara (Amy Irving) who wants greater control over his life. While his activities seem harmless, Clara is fearful of her father's visits to the park and wants him to live with her or in a managed care facility. "I'm not going to live in Siberia in Great Neck" with her, he tells her, then makes up a story about a long-forgotten daughter who has invited him to live with her in Israel.
While ostensibly I'm Not Rappaport is essentially a two-man show, in reality Matthau grabs the spotlight and never lets go, reducing Davis' role to film fighting off Nat's outlandish talks and schemes and playing straight man for his comic routines. While the film is a comedy, there is sadness in the fact that a once powerful set of beliefs is now reduced to pathetic gestures by sentimental old men. Even when Gardner pays tribute to the Jewish tradition of social action, the Bolshoi Chorus belting out the Internationale seems to mock their passion. For these men, old age does not bring security, status, or emotional fulfillment, only longing for the society that might have been and the men they could have become. For them, there is little left to cling to except a wistful kind of grace.
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