Customer Reviews: Rich Man, Poor Man: The Complete Collection
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on September 13, 2010
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.

Peter Strauss, a supporting player in television movies after a failed go at the big screen with Soldier Blue in 1970, played Rudy Jordache and Nick Nolte, a player in B Movies up to then, turned the scene stealing tough guy Tom Jordache into a vehicle that propelled him into movie stardom. Blakely, as Julie Prescott was Rudy's love interest, the sister having been eliminated from the story with all her major story elements folded into the new female lead.

Rudy is a social climbing money maker, the Rich Man of the story, who ascends to the top of the heap landing in the United States Senate (New York State Senate in the book) by the series' end, while brother Tom, a ne'er do well trouble maker, the Poor Man, struggles as a middle weight boxer who is forced to flee the country when he beats up a mob sponsored boxer.

Nolte easily stole the show, not necessarily because of superior acting skills, but because he WAS Tom Jordache in many ways as we were to discover in the years to come. But equally powerful were the amazing performances of the supporting cast, Ed Asner as the father, a force so overwhelming that he overshadows Nolte and Strauss like the moon blotting out the sun during an eclipse in their scenes together. The Brady Bunch's Robert Reed delivers a canny performance as the wealthy Teddy Boylen, Julie lover early in the story and Rudy's mentor. The series is littered with similar performances, Ray Milland, Kim Darby and a surprisingly effective Bill Bixby as Julie's first husband.

I think what made the story so successful was that it was the first time a truly epic novel had been translated onto film, meaning not just television but the features as well, an impossibility for a two or even three hour film. During the course of the series we can see Rudy and Tom aging and changing as Rudy loses his moral center and Tom gains his.

It's a great piece, well worth seeing, but the problem with the new release of the series on DVD is the price. Universal has chosen to tack onto the set the misbegotten sequel series from 1976-77, a 22 episode soap opera that Shaw did not write, Nolte refused to take part in, Blakely left after the initial two hour opener and which even Strauss bailed on by season's end. It was banal and pointless, rarely rising above the level of an afternoon soap, though it did in fact presage the coming prime time soaps, Dallas and Dynasty. Worst of all is that none of the many storylines excepting the one featuring Peter Strauss were resolved at season's end. The only highpoint of Book Two is that it featured the acting debut of Gregg Henry as Nick Nolte's son, a solid player who's produced a three decade career as a supporting actor in roles as diverse as one of the villains in 1998's Start Trek: Insurrection.

So, in order to wring some bucks out of the so-called Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, as they knew no one would buy it on its own, Universal has added on its lame 22 episodes demanding an ungodly $80.00 US, $100.00 Canadian for the show. Even with Amazon's discount, it's still ludicrously expensive, $50.00 US and $70.00 Canadian respectively. The original mini-series would easily fit onto three DVDs with a price of $30.00 before Amazon's discount being more then reasonable.

Despite how good the original mini-series was, my advice is to wait, as this overpriced turkey is bound to end up in the discount bin at Wal-Mart within six months or a year as I can't imagine its sales will keep it in the prime price range for long. Only proceed to the checkout counter if you have money to spare. This really is a disappointment after waiting so long for Rich Man, Poor Man to make its way to DVD.
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on October 9, 2010
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. So I painstakingly combined the Columbia House footage with footage from the best syndicated version, restoring deleted scenes and restoring the two-hour episode format and proper chapter endings, and I edited a hybrid which came as close as possible to the show's original 1976 7-chapter run. This version is what I have watched over the years since then, enabling me to enjoy this wonderful miniseries as I had originally enjoyed it more than thirty years ago.

After years of waiting for a US DVD release, I was overjoyed to see it had finally happened. I'm ordering my set right now. But I am deeply disappointed to see that apparently the original 1976 format was not used and that Book 1 is edited into the syndicated 12-chapter version. I don't understand why Book 1 couldn't be released as originally broadcast. Surely Universal could have provided A&E with the original format instead of the syndicated version. Re-editing and reformatting the series for various syndicated markets over the years was a necessity, but there was no need to release the official US DVD version in anything other than the original broadcast format and the way Book 1 was originally meant to be viewed.
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on December 4, 2010
This series would automatically get 5 stars from me from based on pure entertainment value. But unfortunately, even though A&E is claiming this is the complete series, several scenes have been inexplicably edited, and in a few cases entire scenes deleted. (For example one right before Tom's wedding that explains why Rudy's political career was not destroyed by what happened at the campus newspaper's headquaters) There really is no excuse for this type of carelessness, or if it was done intentionally, that is even more inexusable. Next time I see a DVD release from A&E, I will take a pass.
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on September 5, 2013
This mini serial of 9 discs lasting over 27 hours shook me to the core. It was impossible to switch it off and I saw them all within 5 days. I got so totally involved and gripped as the story unfolds over 3 generations and still can't get it out of my mind. No words can justify Peter Strauss' emotional rendition of his role without over playing it in any way. I have since re-played the last disc many times as the ending is quite shattering.
'Rich Man, Poor Man' ranks amongst my most treasured collection. It is pure gold and highly recommended.
Deepak Singh
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on March 8, 2011
This review is for the Rich Man, Poor Man DVD Collection released in late 2010. I received my set on March 8th, 2011 and knowing that I had my favorite miniseries of ALL time (sorry Roots, Thorn Birds and Salem's Lot) in my hands made me so very happy. And while I love how wonderful it all looks and sounds, and even grateful that they included Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, I wished that Peter Strauss could have been given more time than just one hour of commentary on the premiere episode. Listening to Mr. Strauss was so refreshing and insightful. The man personifies class and the fact that he is a cut above as an actor. His account on his scene with Ed Asner and the "sins of the father" nearly brought me to tears. That being said, why on earth did they only give this great thespian such little amount of time??? Who is to blame for that?? A&E or NBC Universal??? As Mr. Strauss himself stated, RMPM may not have been the first "miniseries" on television but for me at age 43, it definitely was. To see what they could have done with "behind the scenes" documentaries and interviews, it pains me that they were so cheap in that aspect. At least they could have had him complete the entire two hours of the first episode. I wish they could have had commentaries in the following manner: Disc 1 & 2 (Strauss & Susan Blakley), Disc 3 (Nick Nolte), Disc 4 & 5 (Strauss & Susan Sullivan) Disc 6 & 7 (Gregg Henry & Kay Lenz) Disc 8 & 9 (Strauss & William Smith!!!..C'mon you'd have to have Falconetti). In closing, Rich Man, Poor Man will always be an amazing television landmark, I just wish that they ones responsible for putting it out on DVD would have been a little more creative.
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on June 11, 2014
A story which today could be repeated daily. one ambitious, one not. The lives of both, they don;t make them like this anymore.,which truly too bad for this generation not to see what some of life hld. Not robots,terminators, aliens,etc.
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on December 29, 2012
This was the first mini series I ever saw on TV. It was so absorbing I never wanted it to end! It really helped launch the careers of a very young Nick Nolte, Peter Strauss and Susan Blakely (although she was already a well-known model). I am so glad to have had the opportunity to add this one to my collection.
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on November 24, 2013
As everyone here already knows Book One has had scenes removed and is not complete. With that said I did some research and here is what I discovered. There is a region 0 dvd set but I suspect that is also has missing scenes as well because the running time is 527 minutes. You can find that version here on Amazon but why bother. There is a region 0 set that is from Greece that has a running time of 566 minutes which leads me to believe it is complete with no editing at all. But the seller is not on Amazon. If you want
to know where you can get this set email me and I will "relay" the info to you. Last weekend (Nov 16th) the Encore channel aired all 12 chapters, and even they were edited to some degree. They cut out the part where Axel Jordache gets into his boat during a rainstorm never to be seen again. But they left in a scene that is absent from this dvd collection where Rudy accidently blinds a girl that worked for the college paper that took pictures of a naked Julie. Happy hunting!
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on April 13, 2014
Two great actors in a TV mini series that was watched my millions back in the day. It was talked about over coffee breaks and at lunch. Two brothers who travel separate pathways in life. A mini-series was a novel idea back then. It sparked other mini series like The THORNBIRDS and SHOGUN staring Richard Chamberlain. Both of those are also a must see and very collectable. Be reminded that the film was NOT produced in Digital High Definition. It was a MADE FOR TV series not a movie and back then, largest TV screen anyone had as a 25" console. So set your new TV for the appropriate viewing parameters and enjoy
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on July 5, 2015
Well, if you read the reviews on this Mini Series they are all very much right on the money. I tried it and bought it and I feel like sending it back, but will not as I was warned. There are no sub-titles and it is not a very good representation of the book. Make purchase at your own risk.
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