Where's Poppa?

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Where's Poppa?
Where's Poppa poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Carl Reiner
Produced by Jerry Tokofsky
Marvin Worth
Written by Robert Klane (novel & screenplay)
Starring George Segal
Ruth Gordon
Ron Leibman
Music by Jack Elliott
Cinematography Jack Priestley
Edited by Chic Ciccolini
Bud Molin
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • November 10, 1970 (1970-11-10) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Where's Poppa? is a 1970 black comedy film; it is based on the novel by Robert Klane and stars George Segal, Ron Leibman and Ruth Gordon.[1] The plot revolves around the troubled relationship between a lawyer (Segal) and his senile mother (Gordon). The film was directed by Carl Reiner, whose son Rob Reiner had a role in an early performance. Others in the cast are Paul Sorvino, Trish Van Devere, Vincent Gardenia and future Saturday Night Live star Garrett Morris. The film was re-released in 1975, under the title Going Ape.


Gordon Hocheiser's mother, an 87-year-old widow, is ruining her son's love life. He resents her so much, Gordon tries to scare her to death by donning a gorilla suit and attacking her in bed, only to end up on the receiving end of her cane. An attempt is made to persuade Sidney, his brother, to take their mother off Gordon's hands. Sidney has troubles of his own, though, repeatedly getting mugged in Central Park.

Gordon, a lawyer, made a deathbed promise to his father not to place his mother in a rest home. She continues to keep asking, "Where's Poppa." His repeated response is, "Still dead."

Gordon locates a nurse, Louise, whose patients have a peculiar habit of dying in her care. He hires Louise to be his mother's companion, hoping for the worst, and falls in love with Louise in the process.

Sidney borrows the gorilla costume and wears it home. Rather than scaring off muggers, they force him to attack a woman in the park, who turns out to be an undercover police officer. At the end of his rope, with Louise unable to stand the mother one minute more and threatening to leave Gordon, he drives to a rest home and drops off his mother at the entrance, telling her Poppa is there. Then he drives away.

In a post-credits scene removed from the movie but still seen in cable prints, Gordon's ruse to keep his mother at the rest home has failed, and she is once again home with him, with Louise following through on her threat to leave him. Resigned to the belief he will never be rid of her, he dejectedly climbs into bed with his mother, saying, "Here's Poppa."[2]



Filming took place in New York,[3] including Brooklyn.[4] Other filming locations included sound stages on the West Side, streets in Manhattan, Central Park, and several sites in Long Island. Filming was concluded as of June 1970, after seven weeks of filming in and around New York.[3] Director Carl Reiner's son Rob Reiner had an early role in the film.[5] The film's original ending, featuring Gordon in bed with his mother, was considered too risqué and was removed before the theatrical release.[6][7][8]


Where's Poppa? was released in the United States on November 10, 1970, by United Artists.[9][10][11] The film was a box office disappointment, but subsequently gained a following, prompting United Artists to re-release it nationally in 1975 under the title Going Ape.[12][13][14] United Artists chose the title because the film involved various gorilla-related shenanigans.[6] Where's Poppa? was released on DVD in 2002, and on Blu-ray in 2016.[15]


The New York Times wrote that if the film "doesn't succeed all the time, or even most of the time, it succeeds often enough, if only by energy and will, to satisfy a taste for comedy that has not had much nourishment this season."[10] Roger Ebert rated the film three stars out of four.[16]

Award nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1971 Laurel Awards Nominated Star of Tomorrow, Female Trish Van Devere
Writers Guild of America Award Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium Robert Klane

Television pilot

In 1979, a half-hour television pilot was aired on ABC for a proposed series titled Where's Poppa?, starring Steven Keats (Gordon), Elsa Lanchester (Momma), and Allan Miller (Sidney). The series was never picked up.[17][18][19]

See also


  1. ^ "Where's Poppa?". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  2. ^ "Where's Poppa?". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2018-10-17. The film's incest-themed original ending (trimmed from the video version but still included in cable prints) finds Gordon climbing into bed with Mrs. Hocheiser, only to be greeted with a "Here's Poppa."
  3. ^ a b "Ruth Gordon With 'Poppa'". The Baltimore Sun. 1970-06-16. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  4. ^ "News". Redlands Daily Facts. 1970-05-28. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  5. ^ "Son Follows 'Poppa'". The Pittsburgh Press. 1970-07-10. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  6. ^ a b "Movie by Any Other Name Is Same Film". The Atlanta Constitution. 1975-06-15. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. ^ "Here and There". The Pittsburgh Post. 1970-11-03. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ "Dick Van Dyke Needs Pretty Girl For Phoenix". The Evening Sun. 1970-11-17. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  9. ^ "Where's Poppa? (1970) - Overview". TCM.com. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  10. ^ a b Greenspun, Roger (1970-11-11). "Screen: 'Where's Poppa?' Aims to Remove Bachelor's Momma". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  11. ^ "Ruth Gordon Has Gone Full Circle". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1970-11-15. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  12. ^ "Who can figure out big business?". The Pittsburgh Press. 1975-03-05. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  13. ^ "More Movie News". Los Angeles Times. 1975-05-25. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  14. ^ "Film Notes". Chicago Tribune. 1975-07-01. Retrieved 2018-10-17 – via Newspapers.com. (Subscription required (help)).
  15. ^ "Where's Poppa? releases". AllMovie. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  16. ^ Ebert, Roger (1970-12-29). "Where's Poppa?". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  17. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1979-07-17). "TV: 'Where's Poppa?' May Be Series". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  18. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2014). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937–2012. McFarland & Company. pp. 321–322. ISBN 9781476602493. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  19. ^ Goldberg, Lee (2015). The Best TV Shows That Never Were: 300 Memorable Unsold Pilots. Lee Goldberg. ISBN 9781511590747. Retrieved 2018-10-17.

External links

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