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
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