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Rich Man, Poor Man: The Complete Collection

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features

Includes all 34 episodes from Books I and II
Commentary on Book I: Chapter 1 by star Peter Strauss and television historian David Bianculli

Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, Susan Blakely, Edward Asner
  • Directors: David Greene
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Miniseries, Box set, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 9
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: September 28, 2010
  • Run Time: 1604 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (343 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002JVWQR8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,677 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Rich Man, Poor Man: The Complete Collection" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Matthew J. Gallagher on January 25, 2007
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I met Peter Strauss for the first time after a staged reading at the Westport Playhouse, in which he, along with several other wonderful actors, gave a superb reading of a new play. Speaking to him, briefly, afterwards, I mentioned the absence of "Rich Man" on DVD - and he agreed. He told me he is asked this a lot and does not understand why a terrific DVD edition of this classic miniseries is not available. My God, it should be! This was one of the first real TV "events" - must see TV before it really existed - with a superb, involving story of two brothers growing up in turbulent times, their lives and loves, and their ultimate search for happiness. The acting could not be better. Peter Strauss has always been an underrated actor, in my opinion. In "The Jericho Mile" he gives a landmark performance. Here, in "Rich Man," he believably ages from a high school student to an older, forlorn Senator trying to reclaim his humanity. It was an honor to speak to Mr. Strauss, who could not have been more gracious. He was eager to see this miniseries on DVD and was also interested in being part of an "extras" package to boot. Can you imagine getting Mr. Strauss and Nick Nolte back to discuss the legendary film that began both their careers? EVERY actor here gives a unique performance. It was one of the unforgettable TV miniseries. It deserves a gold star treatment!

UPDATE on DVD release! "Rich Man, Poor Man" is a five star production, but the DVD release rates barely A STAR AND A HALF - it is almost a travesty. I would like to commend Mr. Strauss, brilliant in the role in both series, for offering an excellent, perceptive, and interesting one hour long commentary track to accompany the first hour of the original series - but that is the ONLY recommendation I can give to this product.
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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Filmlover Lady on October 26, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
I would have to rate this as the best mini-series ever produced. I recently got to see it again after about 25 years. I borrowed it from the library, which seems like the only place that still might have a copy. I recall when it was first on TV, I think it was an ABC Movie Event. Sitting each week enthralled in the storyline and then waiting for the next episode. This was the most thrilling thing to ever have been on television and it has stayed with me all these years. I became a life long Nick Nolte fan after seeing 'Rich Man, Poor Man'. I only wish this was on DVD! With all the junk that is put on DVD, why not something this ground breaking???
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Clemens on September 13, 2010
Format: DVD
Although it involves none of the same characters, you could call Irwin Shaw's Rich Man, Poor Man a sequel of sorts to his masterpiece The Young Lions, as he again undertakes an epic story crossing continents and decades, the tale of the two Jordache brothers, and occasionally their sister as they traverse the panorama of turbulent times. The story picks up where The Young Lions left off with the end of the Second World War, chronicling the years from 1946 to the late 1960s in the lives of the lower class Jordache family. At the time of the novel's release, the critics ravaged the piece calling Shaw out of touch with America as he had spent most of the past two decades living in Europe. But the public loved it, turning it into a best seller. Shaw, had as always, crafted a character driven piece, using his immense skills as a writer to pull the reader into the story even if it really didn't go anywhere original.

ABC TV bought the book after the success of turning Leon Uris' QB VII into a mini-series in 1974. In the early spring of 1976 the 12 hour Rich Man, Poor Man debuted to phenomenal ratings success, spurring on the coming decade of mini-series mania that included Roots and Holocaust. The critics loved the story as it translated to the small screen, the often times meandering tale of Shaw's novel having been splendidly reworked for television, making a handful of clever changes. The most notable and powerful change was combining the three major female characters into one, replacing three shifting, often redundant characters with a single powerful one played by Susan Blakely. Also of note was the combining of the two key villains into one played with relish by William Smith, an actor who excelled in such roles.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Filmman on October 9, 2010
Format: DVD
I was 13 years old when the original RMPM first aired in 1976, and I was so enthralled by it that I watched it all over again a year later when ABC reran it after Book 2 completed its run. During both of these broadcasts, Book 1 consisted of seven episodes. Episodes 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 were of two hours duration, while episodes 4 and 5 were one hour each.

During the Eighties, Book 1 was rerun several times in syndication, and I took each opportunity to tape it on VHS. There were two different versions syndicated: one edited the series into eight 90-minute episodes; the other edited it into twelve 60-minute episodes. These format changes created artificial chapter endings that were not intended by the original script and which also altered the dramatic pacing of the story. (The proper ending of Chapter 1 should be Tom being sent away from home rather than Axel and Mary having an argument in the 90-minute version or Julie walking down the street in the 60-minute version.) In addition, the order of several scenes was juggled to fit this reformatting, and a few scenes were cut completely as well, so no syndicated version was ever complete or matched the show's original run. So I kept my tapes of all the different versions -- the earliest of which were recorded using an aerial antenna and not very good quality, while the later tapes were recorded off of cable and far better.

During the Nineties, Columbia House released the series on VHS in the 12-chapter, one-hour episode format... but while they claimed the series was complete, several scenes were missing.
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Topic From this Discussion
English subtitles???
A&E Video products have stopped including subbies and/or captions for several years now. Big mistake on their part.
Nov 13, 2010 by Eric Pregosin |  See all 12 posts
rich man poor man - Spanish subtitles
I was surprised that Richman poor man book 1 and 2 had no English subtitles. Very disappointing in this day and age when some people need to have subtitles to enjoy a movie. Or subtitles can be needed by people who are trying to learn English.
Apr 28, 2011 by Mary |  See all 3 posts
Closed captions or subtitles
I am HoH also, and require english subtitles or captions. A&E does not usually bother with them though.
Jan 26, 2014 by snafu59 |  See all 2 posts
Rich Man Poor Man DVD Release
I agree with you but I wrote a while ago asking if you will release a version with spanish subtitles or spanishs video
Jan 28, 2011 by Patricia Ryser |  See all 3 posts
Amazon advertises that it has everything?!
If the manufacturers do not produce the series (RMPM particularly) in a region 1, U.S. DVD can it be the fault of Amazon when it isn't offered? Think about what you are saying.
Oct 27, 2009 by Theresa M. Flannery |  See all 4 posts
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Rich Man, Poor Man: The Complete Collection
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