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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
I'm Not Rappaport
Directed by Herb Gardner
MCA/Universal 12/96 DVD/VHS Feature Film
In some feisty souls, the yearning for justice burns brightly for a lifetime. In I'm Not Rappaport (MCA/Universal) Nat (Walter Matthau), an 81-year-old Jewish radical is one of them. He believes "the proper response to the outrages is still to be outraged." His favorite spot in New York City is a bench in Central Park where he regales a half-blind apartment house superintendent nicknamed Midge (Ossie Davis) with his stories.
The crafty and cantankerous Nat is a modern day Don Quixote who squares off against an unscrupulous grocer, a street punk who terrorizes the elderly, a drug dealer, and an apartment house tenants' committee representative who wants to fire Midge. In order to do battle with these scoundrels, he takes on the personas of a consumer affairs activist, a tough guy, a Mafia don, and an aggressive lawyer. Although Midge prefers to stay out of the way of trouble, Nat involves him in several of these missions. Both men are compelled to stand up for themselves in a society that seems determined to treat its elders as if they were invisible.
Writer and director Herb Gardner has infused I'm Not Rappaport with the same zest, humor, and humanity that were evident in his 1962 comedy A Thousand Clowns. The fire in Nat's belly and his zeal for justice make him an unforgettable character.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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