The title of this unapologetically crude, off-the-wall farce, adapted by future Weekend at Bernie’s writer Robert Klane from his own novel, refers to the repeated question asked by a senile old woman (Ruth Gordon) of her absent husband…who’s been dead for years. Eager to drive mom into an early grave, Gordon’s lawyer son (George Segal) resorts to dressing in a giant ape costume and trying to scare her to death, until he finds love—and perhaps salvation—in the form of a beautiful Gentile nurse (Trish Van Devere). Now, if only mom would stop pulling down his pants and nuzzling his buttocks. Jive-talking black muggers and policemen in drag join the madcap chorus in director Carl Reiner’s underappreciated gem from the golden age of political incorrectness.
“Genuinely outrageous…A series of extended slapstick riffs in which each dreamlike scene heads straight into psychosexual hyperbole, Where’s Poppa? has passages that seem Hollywood’s equivalent of the Kafkaesque.”
“There is a certain kind of humor that rises below vulgarity. It isn't merely in the worst possible taste; it aspires to be in the worst possible taste. Where's Poppa? is the best example of the genre since The Producers.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Photo courtesy of UNITED ARTISTS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.