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Sales Rank: 3,724
Actors: Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, Susan Blakely, Edward Asner Director: David Greene Rating: Features: Color, Miniseries, Box set, NTSC Running Time: 1604 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Release Date: September 28, 2010 Theatrical Release Date: February 1, 1976 Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
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The first-ever dramatic miniseries to appear on American television, the multi-award winning RICH MAN, POOR MAN spans decades and generations to trace the epic story of the Jordache family from 1945 to the late 1960s.
Now available for the first time on DVD, RICH MAN, POOR MAN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION brings together all 34 episodes from Book I and II of this classic '70s series. Based on Irwin Shaw's best-selling novel and featuring an all-star cast including Edward Asner, Bill Bixby, Susan Blakely, and Robert Reed, the series focuses in particular on Rudy Jordache Peter Strauss and his troubled brother Tom Nick Nolte as they navigate divergent paths away from their impoverished immigrant upbringing. While ambitious Rudy seems destined for success, Tom suffers from an endless string of bad luck but in the end, finds love. Encompassing a period of tremendous social and political upheaval, the Jordache saga explores timeless themes such as the difficulty of human relationships and the disillusionment of the American dream.
An absorbing and masterful portrait of a fascinating and ill-fated family, RICH MAN, POOR MAN: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION recaptures a landmark moment in American broadcasting history.
BONUS FEATURE: Brand-new audio commentary for Book I: Chapter 1 featuring star Peter Strauss and television historian David Bianculli
Rich Man, Poor Man may not have been the first miniseries, but its success in 1976 gave the format legs and set the template for many that followed: based on a popular book, starring new faces but surrounded by familiar stars, with a panoramic sweep that juxtaposes personal trials against historical events. Book I of Rich Man, Poor Man follows the ups and downs of the Jordache brothers--Rudy Peter Strauss, Masada and Tom Nick Nolte, 48 Hours--starting at the close of World War II through to the late '60s. Allusions to race relations, the Rosenberg trials, and other topical issues provide a backdrop to the tumultuous soap opera of these two men and Julie Prescott Susan Blakely, The Towering Inferno, Rudy's high-school sweetheart and eventually his wife. Rudy's ambition leads him into politics, Tom struggles as a prizefighter and has children with a couple of women, and Julie falls into an unhappy marriage, a career in journalism, and alcoholism. Probably the most interesting aspect of Rich Man, Poor Man for today's audiences is its sexual honesty; it's hard to imagine anything on contemporary broadcast television being as frank about women's desires and the instability of marriages though cable series like Mad Men have picked up that lead--in fact, Mad Men owes a considerable debt to Rich Man, Poor Man. It's no surprise that Nolte was the breakout star from the series; the rest of the cast varies from a bit wooden to solidly capable, but Nolte's energy and spontaneity--not to mention his six-pack abs!--pop out.
The success of Rich Man, Poor Man led to Rich Man, Poor Man: Book II, also included on this DVD set; almost twice as long, this second miniseries suffers from the absence of Nolte and from being more distanced from the source material. While Irwin Shaw's novel isn't great literature, he captures the rough chaos of life; Rich Man, Poor Man changed much of the book's plot and characters but held on to the fundamental grit. Book II, which tried to replicate the two-brothers-on-different-tracks formula by following Tom's son Wesley and Julie's son Billy, feels melodramatic and half-baked. Still, it has its moments and features the ongoing malevolence of William Smith as the series' dominant villain, Falconetti--a character who made such an impression that the actor was harassed on the street by the miniseries' fans. All in all, worthwhile for the original Rich Man, Poor Man, which also features Ed Asner, Bill Bixby, Robert Reed of The Brady Bunch, Ray Milland Oscar winner for The Lost Weekend, film noir icon Gloria Grahame, and many others. --Bret Fetzer