I'm Not Rappaport (film)

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I'm Not Rappaport
I'm Not Rappaport (film).jpg
Directed by Herb Gardner
Produced by John Penotti
David Sameth
John H. Starke
Written by Herb Gardner (play, screenplay)
Music by Gerry Mulligan
Cinematography Adam Holender
Edited by Anne McCabe
Emily Paine
Wendey Stanzler
Distributed by Gramercy Pictures
Universal Pictures
Release date
  • December¬†24,¬†1996¬†(1996-12-24)
Running time
135 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $26,011

I'm Not Rappaport is a 1996 American film adaptation by Herb Gardner of his play by the same name. Also directed by Gardner, the film starred Walter Matthau, Ossie Davis, Amy Irving, Craig T. Nelson, Martha Plimpton, Peter Friedman, and Ron Rifkin.


Inspired by two elderly men Gardner met in New York City's Central Park, it focuses on Nat Moyer, a cantankerous white Jew, and Midge Carter, a feisty African-American, who spend their days sitting on a bench, trying to mask the realities of aging, mainly through the tall tales that Nat spins. The play touches on several issues, including society's treatment of the aged, the difficulties dealing with adult children who think they know what's best for their parents, and the dangers that lurk in urban areas.

Its title comes from an old vaudeville joke, a variation of which evolved into dialogue between the two protagonists:

  • Nat: Hey, Rappaport! I haven't seen you in ages. How have you been?
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, what happened to you? You used to be a short fat guy, and now you're a tall skinny guy.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, you used to be a young guy with a beard, and now you're an old guy with a mustache.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: Rappaport, how has this happened? You used to be a cowardly little white guy, and now you're a big imposing black guy.
  • Midge: I'm not Rappaport.
  • Nat: And you changed your name, too!



In the park every morning, elderly, half-blind Midge Carter tries to read his newspaper, but is distracted daily by Nat Moyer, an opinionated old man who reminisces about long-ago union activities and the love of his life.

Midge is superintendent of a residential building and has been trying to steer clear of a tenant, Pete Danforth, whose committee is pushing for Midge's retirement. Nat insists that Midge stand up for his rights, going so far as to pass himself off as Midge's attorney.

Nat's married daughter, Clara, is concerned about his welfare, particularly given how vulnerable a senior citizen can be in the park. She has good reason to worry because Nat encounters the Cowboy, a drug dealer who is owed money by a young woman named Laurie, and by J.C., a mugger who turns violent when Nat unwisely decides to fight back.

The play

Originally presented by Seattle Repertory Theatre in 1984, the play also saw two successful runs at the Booth Theatre on Broadway with 891 performances in 1985, and 53 in 2002. Both productions were directed by Daniel Sullivan and starred Judd Hirsch. The original role played by Cleavon Little was played by Ben Vereen in the 2002 revival.

External links

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