Popi (1969)

G | 115 mins | Comedy-drama | 27 May 1969

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Writers:

Tina Pine, Les Pine

Producer:

Herbert B. Leonard

Cinematographer:

Andrew Laszlo

Production Designer:

Robert Gundlach

Production Company:

Leonard Films
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HISTORY

Alan Arkin’s casting was announced in the 14 Feb 1968 LAT, which stated that filming on the $2-million picture would take place on location in Miami, FL, and in New York City. According to an item in the 29 May 1969 LAT, upon first reading the script Arkin had passed on the role of “Abraham Rodriguez,” at which point producer Herbert B. Leonard approached Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, who rejected the idea of playing a Puerto Rican man. The script was then rewritten and resubmitted to Arkin. A wide search was conducted for the young actors who played Arkin’s sons, with an estimated 5,000 boys auditioning. The 18 Sep 1968 Var claimed that many of the candidates were recruited from public schools in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood where the story is set, and from the 111th & Second Avenue Boys Club.
       Principal photography began on 21 Apr 1968, as noted in a 26 Apr 1968 DV production chart. Two weeks of shooting in Miami were followed by ten weeks in New York City, where exteriors were filmed in Spanish Harlem, according to the 18 Sep 1968 and 16 Apr 1969 issues of Var.
       An item in the 27 Dec 1968 DV announced that Lionel Bart had been hired to score the film. Nearly one month later, the 22 Jan 1969 Var listed Dominic Frontiere as the composer. Bart was expected to write a song for the film, however, as mentioned in the 12 Mar 1969 Var.
       Popi was chosen as Seventeen magazine’s “Picture of the Month” for ... More Less

Alan Arkin’s casting was announced in the 14 Feb 1968 LAT, which stated that filming on the $2-million picture would take place on location in Miami, FL, and in New York City. According to an item in the 29 May 1969 LAT, upon first reading the script Arkin had passed on the role of “Abraham Rodriguez,” at which point producer Herbert B. Leonard approached Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, who rejected the idea of playing a Puerto Rican man. The script was then rewritten and resubmitted to Arkin. A wide search was conducted for the young actors who played Arkin’s sons, with an estimated 5,000 boys auditioning. The 18 Sep 1968 Var claimed that many of the candidates were recruited from public schools in the Spanish Harlem neighborhood where the story is set, and from the 111th & Second Avenue Boys Club.
       Principal photography began on 21 Apr 1968, as noted in a 26 Apr 1968 DV production chart. Two weeks of shooting in Miami were followed by ten weeks in New York City, where exteriors were filmed in Spanish Harlem, according to the 18 Sep 1968 and 16 Apr 1969 issues of Var.
       An item in the 27 Dec 1968 DV announced that Lionel Bart had been hired to score the film. Nearly one month later, the 22 Jan 1969 Var listed Dominic Frontiere as the composer. Bart was expected to write a song for the film, however, as mentioned in the 12 Mar 1969 Var.
       Popi was chosen as Seventeen magazine’s “Picture of the Month” for Jun 1969, the 6 May 1969 DV noted. The film opened to largely positive reviews on 27 May 1969 in New York City, and on the following day in Los Angeles, CA, and went on to become a commercial success. The 21 Jan 1970 Var reported that it had garnered net profits of over $2.2 million by the end of 1969.
       For his turn as Abraham Rodriguez, Alan Arkin received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1968
p. 16.
Daily Variety
20 May 1968
p. 6.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 May 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1968
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
28 May 1969
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1969
Section D, p. 6.
New York Times
28 May 1969
p. 34.
Variety
18 Sep 1968
p. 21.
Variety
22 Jan 1969
p. 47.
Variety
12 Mar 1969
p. 69.
Variety
16 Apr 1969
p. 6.
Variety
2 Jul 1969
p. 4.
Variety
21 Jan 1970
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec in charge of prod
WRITERS
Wrt
Wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
SOURCES
SONGS
"Popi," words by Norman Gimbel, music by Dominic Frontiere.
DETAILS
Release Date:
27 May 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 May 1969
Los Angeles opening: 28 May 1969
Production Date:
began 21 April 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Leonard Films
Copyright Date:
27 May 1969
Copyright Number:
LP37110
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
115
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22038
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Popi, a.k.a. Abraham Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican widower struggling to raise his two young sons amid the squalor of New York's Spanish Harlem, has two aims in life: one is to marry Lupe, his warmhearted, voluptuous girl friend, and move to Brooklyn; but before he can do this, Popi feels obligated to realize his other aim -- assuring his sons a decent future. For years he has managed to provide for them by simultaneously working several jobs, but in his mind has always lurked the fear that he would one day lose them to the ghetto. And it is not long before this fear is realized: he learns that his sons are telling school friends that their father is the gangster brother of a notorious underworld figure. The problem preoccupies him, but the solution presents itself one evening while he is catering a banquet for Cuban refugees. Popi is a shrewd man, and his experience has taught him that America is more altruistic toward political refugees than toward the common poor. His scheme is to set his sons adrift in a rowboat somewhere off the coast of Miami, Florida, in the hope that they will be spotted, taken for Cuban refugees, and rescued. Following rowing sessions in Central Park and some lessons in motorboat handling on the East River, Popi reveals his plan to the boys. Despite their reluctance to leave New York (they even try running away), Popi has his way, and the family soon arrives in Florida. After stealing a boat, Popi instructs his sons to take the boat out until the fuel runs out, jettison the motor, and start rowing back. The boys have qualms but ... +


Popi, a.k.a. Abraham Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican widower struggling to raise his two young sons amid the squalor of New York's Spanish Harlem, has two aims in life: one is to marry Lupe, his warmhearted, voluptuous girl friend, and move to Brooklyn; but before he can do this, Popi feels obligated to realize his other aim -- assuring his sons a decent future. For years he has managed to provide for them by simultaneously working several jobs, but in his mind has always lurked the fear that he would one day lose them to the ghetto. And it is not long before this fear is realized: he learns that his sons are telling school friends that their father is the gangster brother of a notorious underworld figure. The problem preoccupies him, but the solution presents itself one evening while he is catering a banquet for Cuban refugees. Popi is a shrewd man, and his experience has taught him that America is more altruistic toward political refugees than toward the common poor. His scheme is to set his sons adrift in a rowboat somewhere off the coast of Miami, Florida, in the hope that they will be spotted, taken for Cuban refugees, and rescued. Following rowing sessions in Central Park and some lessons in motorboat handling on the East River, Popi reveals his plan to the boys. Despite their reluctance to leave New York (they even try running away), Popi has his way, and the family soon arrives in Florida. After stealing a boat, Popi instructs his sons to take the boat out until the fuel runs out, jettison the motor, and start rowing back. The boys have qualms but nevertheless obey. With the scheme underway, Popi attempts to alert the Coast Guard but fails. Believing that all is lost, he is near suicide when a report comes over the radio concerning the rescue of "two brave Cuban boys." The two are rushed to a hospital in critical condition, suffering from dehydration and sunburn. Thousands of well-wishers send flowers and toys; adoption offers pour in, and the boys receive an invitation to visit the White House. When Popi, variously disguised, finally reaches his sons, they try to make him see how they value his love far more than the security that adoption by wealthy parents would provide. He tries to reason with them, but his noisy protests alert the hospital staff. When he tries to flee, the boys follow, and the entire hoax is exposed. The young boys are overjoyed as a somewhat bewildered Popi returns with them to the old neighborhood. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.