Rich Man, Poor Man (TV Mini-Series 1976) Poster

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Mini series which I consider AMBITIOUS!
marcin_kukuczka22 August 2004
This was the first mini series I had seen on Polish TV at the end of the 1980s. I was a kid and did not care much about what's going on on TV but I remember that a lot of people absolutely loved the series, there were discussions about the strange fates of Rudi and Tom at parties. These 45 minutes of one part every Sunday was a time of a breath-stop in most families. A wedding reception of my aunt and uncle had to be paused for this time because all the participants flocked to take a seat in front of TV sets in order to see another part of RICH MAN POOR MAN (in my country the title was translated into "A weather for the rich"). Nowadays, it may seem strange that people were so much influenced by a mini series, especially when there are so many of them. But, the seria that are made recently appear not to be as good. There is something extraordinary about it, something magic. I could feel it two years ago when I had a chance to see the mini series again.

It teaches a lot. There are a lot of moments that show life as it is: strange, unexpected, paradoxical, ambiguous. Rudi, a proper son of the Jordache family, knows what he wants from the beginning. He is ambitious and goes very far. But does he do his best to make use of his riches? Tom, a "bad son" who gets himself and his family only into trouble, treats life as it goes. Irresponsible, light-hearted but in the end, it is him who is with his mother at the moment of her death... Julie Prescott, a beautiful girl who loved Rudi and wanted to be loved by him from the very beginning (living in sin in New York), falls into a wrong marriage, has a son and is not able to be a "good mother" But is it her character or her loneliness that lead her to drinking and depression?

Each character in the movie is a very psychological interpretation of the complicated nature of human being. Even a villain Falconetti is like that due to something that happened to him earlier in his life. The experience while watching this mini series for me was that I could not judge a single character. All of them were good and bad at the same time. All of them were ambiguous. Nobody is, in fact, absolutely good or absolutely evil. That is, I think, the core of human nature, and the series presents it memorably.

The action also kept me to my chair. Although there are boring moments, they do not last for long and very soon comes something that makes the blood run faster.

The cast are GREAT! Peter Strauss and his portrayal of Rudi is unforgettable. When I read the book, I saw his face. REALLY FITS TO THE ROLE! Nick Nolte - PERFECT! I think that most people will agree with me that it's difficult to imagine a better Tom than him. Rebellious, hyperactive, irresponsible, but emotional! Susan Blakely's portrayal of Julie also, without doubt, deserves appreciation. And finally William Smith as Falconetti. I heard that although he has had many roles since then (1976) most people have always associated him with this role. That is what I call the "everlasting impact of portrayals". Despite there will be (or already were) other people who will be cast to this role, a certain portrayal will always be seen as the best.

Not to make my review go forever and bore the readers to death (which is my huge drawback), this mini series is one of the few that I call AMBITIOUS. It is worth watching due to many factors. It is, first of all, about life as it is, not as it should be. It is universal. Therefore, you will find yourself in some of the characters as I did.

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Terrific mini series
ridgerunner77321 January 2003
Arguably the best mini series ever. I was in high school when ABC was airing RMPM and I definitely didn't miss any of the episodes. I guess most high school kids, well boys anyway, could relate to Tom Jordache. All you want to do is get the heck out of school and move on. As for the series itself the diamonds in the rough were Ed Asner as Axel Jordache and Bill Bixby as Willie Abbott. Asner did a great job getting away from the Lou Grant persona and becoming the brutish Jordache and everybody knew Bill Bixby as the nice guy dad on "The Courtship of Eddie's Father". Bixby did a great job playing the role of the lazy, irresponsible Willie Abbott. For eye candy there was Lynda Day George playing the wife of one of Tommy's boxing rivals. She was really a knockout in that bathing suit. And Susan Blakely wasn't too bad either. Another surprise was William Smith as Falconetti the bad guy. Hey, I was used to seeing him as one of the good guy Texas Rangers on "Laredo" back in the mid 60s. At any rate I wish they'd pull both RMPM parts 1 and 2 out of the archives for another generation.
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For a TV miniseries this is excellent
preppy-327 May 2004
This follows two brothers (Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte) growing up--one straight arrow (Strauss) the other a hell-raiser (Nolte). They also love the same woman (Susan Blakely). It starts off in the 1940s and follows them up to the 70s.

Sure, it's a soap opera but it's fun! Despite it's length it's never dull and the acting and production values are surprisingly good. There's also great supporting acting by Edward Asner (as a rough, tough father) and Robert Reed.

I saw it back when it originally aired in 1976. I had forgotten about it until it popped up on cable in the 1990s. The Family Channel showed it and edited out a few words and shots (I distinctly remember a quick side view of Robert Reed naked that wasn't in that showing).This really deserves to be out on DVD. Judging by the votes and the reviews this has quite a following. No masterpiece but just engrossing and well-made.
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Why no DVD or even VHS for such a good series
filmsfan3811 August 2003
I saw this series on TV in the 1970's and it was excellent. Great acting by Nick Nolte as the wild one and Peter Strauss as the good guy. It mystifies me that this series was never distributed on DVD or even VHS, when other not even a quarter as good series than this one, have come out on DVD or VHS. I'm positive Rich Man, Poor Man, would sell very well. Everybody would buy it.
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Legendary mini-series that has stood the test of time
ODDBear27 February 2009
Older people than me have been saying for years; Television ain't what it used to be. These old geesers were usually referring to the grand ol' soaps like "Dallas", "MASH" or even "The Rockford Files". Many referred to "Rich Man, Poor Man" as the best series they ever saw. Once when asked about my favorite villains my extensive knowledge was severely questioned when I failed to name Falconetti. I only knew of Falconetti through "Beautiful Girls", as he was mentioned by Matt Dillon as a nasty guy in TV history. I recently checked out "Rich Man, Poor Man" and it didn't disappoint.

A sprawling epic, spanning over twenty years (1945-1966). This mini-series follows the lives of two brothers, Rudy and Tom Jordache (Strauss and Nolte). Rudy is the rich man of the title and Tom the poor.

You really can't beat these mid-70's TV series. "Rich Man, Poor Man" was a highly ambitious project, adapting a 600 plus page novel chronicling two eventful lives amidst great social changes in America. As with all great American TV, there's much drama here, action and politics.

The cast here is great; Peter Strauss is his usually subdued self as Rudy, the somber but extremely ambitious business man who slowly builds himself an empire. Nick Nolte is perfect as the hot-blooded Tom, whose temper in the end proves very fateful. Along for the ride are some stellar guest stars such as Bill Bixby, Susan Blakely, Murray Hamilton, Edward Asner, Kay Lenz and of course William Smith as Falconetti.

So, I'd like to concur with these old geesers who state; TV just ain't what it used to be.
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The first and one of the few best!
CosmicDwellings2 January 2001
The first ever television mini-series was broadcast as 12 x 50 minute episodes in the U.K., either side of 'News At Ten' on three consecutive Wednesday and Friday nights throughout July, in that summer, of 1976. It was ITV's answer to the BBC's coverage of the Olympics at the time-and what an answer!

The story of Rudy & Tom Jordache...two brothers who battled through their conflicting lifestyles in two different ways. Based on the best-selling novel by Irwin Shaw, we are taken on a roller-coaster ride starting in Port Philip, New York in 1945 through to the French Riviera in the mid-60's. A classic tale of Rags to Riches and Happiness to Heartbreak.

Messrs. Strauss and Nolte are awesome as the brothers with the fine support of Susan Blakely as the love interest in the story. All this interjected with a great well known cast, a legend of the TV Screens was born.

The series won countless Emmy nominations and came away with Four in total in the form of Edward Asner, Fionnuala Flanagan, composer Alex North and director, David Greene.

Don't miss this one!
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The First Mini-Series on Television
Sjaff28 April 2001
"Rich Man, Poor Man," was the very first mini-series on television.

It was the very first of what they called "the long form." Though almost all the television history books say that "Roots" was the first, that is simply not true. It was "Rich Man, Poor Man," a 12 hour mini-series that everyone stayed home to watch. The t.v. historians should be more accurate. This was great television at it's best, produced from ABC and Universal. It was one of Fred Silverman's finest accomplishments and that of Brandon Stoddard as well. You have to credit producer Harve Bennett and the head of ABC television's new department at that time, Esther Shapiro who brought us many great movies and mini-series. It starred Nick Nolte, Susan Blakely and Peter Strauss. It had a cast that has remained unequaled in television.
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I am always talking about this mini series
djb1185326 March 2007
Every time I go in a video store or look up videos to rent or purchase online, I always put Rich Man Poor Man in the search engine. Always to come up empty though. This was TV at its best. Nothing topped this back in the 70's but maybe Luke and Laura on General Hospital. I remember always getting pumped up cause a new episode was coming on. If my memory is correct, I am pretty sure it was tuesday night, I know the opening episode was a 2 hr long Sunday night treat.

I really wish I could watch this again and see if it still holds up to this day. I really don't think it could lose much of the magic, since it was told in an earlier year sequence anyways. I guess the only thing different now would be the actors are a lot older these days. I will never forget the Tom Jordache and Falconetti last episode. That will always stay in my memory forever. Ed Asner was also excellent.
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A TV masterpiece
Jonthan2222 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This 1976 TV mini-series was aired before I was born, and I did not see it until i was a child in the early 90's, and the fact that a 10 yr old boy watching the show nearly 20 years after it was made, thoroughly enjoyed it speaks volumes for this TV masterpiece.

Rich Man Poor Man is adapted from Irwin Shaw's incredible novel and tell the story of two Brothers, Rudy (Peter Strauss) and Tom (Nick Nolte) Jordache, and follows their lives spanning 20 years from the end of the Second world war, to the mid-60's.

The series starts in 1945, when the brothers are in their late teens.

Rudy is the rich man of the title. A prim and proper son and student, he does his homework, helps his father run the family bakery, dates a respectable young nurse, Julie (Susan Blakely), and has ambition to make something of himself in the growing corporate world.

Tom, on the other hand, is a free spirit, and is the Poor man of the title. He is interested in little else other than having fun with his friends and getting into mischief and street brawls.

Rudy is always treated as the favourite by both their mother and father, although Tom seems to harbour no resentment towards his brother for this, instead aiming most of his anger at his father.

When a millionaire's mansion is set on fire by Tom in their quiet suburban town, Tom's parents expel their son from their home and so starts the two halves of the series as we are shown Rudy's life as a corporate bigwig and budding politician, and Tom's life as a lonely drifter, moving from town to town, resorting to Prize fights to make a living.

Rudy chases the girl of his dreams, Julie, for years and finally marries her, and seems to have everything, a beautiful wife, money and a great career, but is his life really filled with happiness? He starts to alienate his wife and she turns to drink as an escape, and the two are locked in a rocky marriage which leaves neither of them fulfilled.

Tom gets in trouble with the law, and the mafia and has to resort to living under a false identity aboard a merchant marine ship, where he strikes up a rivalry with the ships alpha male, the cruel and dangerous Falconetti (wonderfully played by William Smith). But in the end, he settles down in France with a loving wife and son, with little money, but surrounded by loving friends and family, running a tour boat business.

This series has a simple message, money cannot buy happiness, and true happiness is found in love and friendship. But the way in which the series put across this message is truly genius. The show never holds back...we see the gritty world for what it is, there is action, drama, tension (all compounded by a great team of writers and superb acting on everyones part).

The shock ending left me angry(in a good way), sad, and wanting more....which is what I got in RMPM Book II, also very good.

If anyone hasn't watched this, do so, it is truly entertaining and may teach you a thing or two about life, and what it truly means.
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Nolte's Breakout Role in the Best Mini-Series Ever Made.
Robert-8725 January 1999
This excellent mini-series was actually the first mini-series ever aired and is absolutely flawless from start to finish.

Featuring knockout performances from Nick Nolte as Tom Jordache, Peter Strauss as Rudy Jordache and Susan Blakely as Julie Prescott, this series begins on VE night in 1945 and we follow the three leads over the next three turbulent decades. This is the role that made Nolte a star and he turns in a blockbuster performance in this one. If you get the chance, SEE THIS ONE!

Also features a fine supporting cast with Ed Asner in an Emmy Award Winning performance as Axel Jordache and in one of the best villainous roles I have ever seen, William Smith as Falconetti.
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The First and the Best TV Mini Series on DVD
mbr_rhodie3 June 2004
I can still remember a very young Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss in this series - who would have thought at the time this series would have catapulted them both onto Hollywood careers . Definitely the the first and the best TV mini series -

it had me glued to the TV set each week - so as not to miss an episode . I think Falconetti with that eye patch , he must have been one of the best bad guys to hit the small screen in a long time - i wonder where he is now. Great to see it is AVAILABLE to BUY in the UK on DVD .

I have ordered my copy from Amazon UK as soon as i saw it was available
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The Best Mini Series Ever - at last on DVD !
mbr_rhodie30 June 2004
Finally - the best ever TV mini series is available to buy on DVD as a box set - i could'nt wait to get it . I could'nt understand why it was not available - found it as a box set on (it is on region 2 - so you will need a multi region DVD player if you are outside of region 2 ). A very young Nick Nolte and Peter Stauss - with fantastic performances from both of them , launching their careers . I will be spending a lot of time re-watching the DVD - does'nt seem like 28 years since audiences around the world were captivated by the strong acting and storyline - yet there were only 12 episodes , seemed like so much more.
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rich man poor man
eratony27 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Does anyone remember the 1976 series Rich man,poor man?Irecently bought the VHS tapes and thoroughly enjoyed watching it again.However, I definitely remember little bits and pieces that were not in these tapes.I also remember Rudy avenging his brother's death (Tom) at the hands of Falconneti.Did I imagine this?To say the least,it was very disappointing to watch 12 hours of this and not see the ending which I do remember very well.Almost like reading a book all the way through and then finding out the last chapter is missing.If anybody else has noticed this.please mail me at Also remember Rudy saying"give me a million dollars and I'll make another million",or something to that effect.
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from life crumbs
Vincentiu6 August 2014
one of series who becomes legend. for the art to define the every day life. for the convincing acting. and for a strange mixture between sentimental scenes, rage and challenges, the ambiguity of bad and good, a Nick Nolte who does more than a memorable role and Peter Strauss who seems, in too many episodes, be the master of solutions for crisis. history of a family who has many common points with each family. rebellion and love, not the best choices, lovely music, strong gestures, a bad guy and an evil one, the girl and the father, duties and searches, Jordaches as a large puzzle. after its end, it becomes little more than a good adaptation but a kind of experience. sure, it is not a real surprise. only a form of remember of the sides of life. and this kind of realism remains, after so many years, the basic ingredient of its success.
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To summarise, watch it for yourself.
knella125 March 2013
I guess the first question about a 36 year old series, is how dated is it? Well of course it is, but as it goes back in time itself this is nullified. I watched it on it's first viewing in UK in 1976 at the age of 12, I was enthralled and have watched it many times since. The acting is first rate, the story intelligent and the soundtrack perfect. Nolte was great as Tom, even though he was physically a little too large. His scenes were always the best for me, but Strauss played a good 'foil'. It's basically just a biopic of two brothers during twenty four years of their lives. It does touch on historical events but is mainly a 'people' film. If you've never seen it I strongly advise that you do. The first episode is strong but it does get better. As has been said, the supporting cast were as good as they were famous. All in all it's about eight hours of television, which may put you off, but don't. Through the series you will become attached to the central characters in a way you'll never forget. Brilliant!
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Simply the best miniseries ever.
khamble30 October 2006
A huge favorite with college students and adults. People quickly formed parties around the series. It was an amazing part of television history. People talked about the show all week long waiting for the next installment. The use of established stars and new faces created a great deal of believability in the story line. Shows like Dallas, Dynasty, and other miniseries like Roots owe their success to Rich Man, Poor Man. America was glued to the miniseries format. The use of real historic events created the feeling that the author was relating true events to you through the characters. Successful television shows and movies, such as Wonder Years and Forrest Gump, have applied this format.
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TV mini-series at it's best
jeffs90002 July 2001
Not only was this the first mini-series, but one of the most entertaining as well. There are good times, bad times, funny times, and sad times. Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss were excellent. Televised by ABC in 1976, 25 years ago. There are 12 episodes totaling about 9 1/2 hours. I wish ABC would pull the series out of the archives, and replay it for this new generation. It's a timeless classic that I would love to enjoy one more time.
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Rich Man, Poor Man- Hits the Galaxy ****
edwagreen25 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Superb drama about the fact that wealth can't buy happiness and that a hard life, when filled with compassion can bring satisfying results.

Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss were absolutely superb in their roles as the Jordache brothers. Under the thumb, of a violent, German immigrant father, played with tremendous force by Ed Asner, both sons chose different paths of lives to follow, and with it success and constant trouble dominate only to show that in the end we may have to vary our very definition of success.

As the mother, Dorothy McGuire had the best role she ever had since her 1947 Oscar nominated film "Gentleman's Agreement." Her part what that of a tormented woman who felt she had married beneath her. (Axel Jordache-Asner) Furthermore, she never let him forget his missed opportunities for economic success.

This series proves that success may be achieved by hard work, but that work will take its toll as it very well defines a person.

Many social issues are discussed in the film, wealth versus poverty, blacklisting, The Rosenberg Case, anti-black attitudes, etc. We see a changing society in a very good mini-series.
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Monumental Miniseries
qormi11 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The casting was perfect, as was the acting. Nick Nolte obviously gained or lost 20 pounds to show the same character, age 17 and 35. Nolte stole the show. Peter Strauss was excellent and conveyed a wide range of emotions, from reserved and shy to ruthless and forceful as Rudy. Susan Blakely was always an underrated actress. She should have been an A-lister to the highest degree. She brought a lot of passion to her role. Bill Bixby, Kay Lenz, and Ray Milland were excellent, as were Ed Asner and Dorothy McGuire. William Smith played the role of an obnoxious bully to the hilt. He seemed all to real. Flawless production.
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Still no DVD?
tjshan121412 April 2006
I think it is incredible that this milestone of television history still has not been released in the US on DVD. The 30th anniversary of the first broadcast of the mini-series has come and gone. It would have been a golden opportunity to release it. I would also hope that they would do it right, with background and "making of" segments. Interviews with the main actors would be a nice touch as well. All of the other highly rated mini-series from the '70s, '80s and '90s have been released on DVD; what is the holdup on this one? I am amazed at some of the lousy television shows which are released on DVD, yet no RMPM. I managed to tape the show when the old Family Channel showed it ten years ago (to commemorate the 20th anniversary!). When I watch it I am impressed with how it has held up over the years. The acting was good, the story was solid. They took a good book by Irwin Shaw, made some changes and improved it. This is a great mini-series and it should definitely be shared with a new generation.
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One of the best mini series I've ever seen, and STILL looking for a copy.
sidsimp35720 July 2003
Perhaps one of Nolte's greatest works not given enough air-time. When this series hit the air, I didn't own a VCR at the time and have been longing to see it again since the first showing. If anyone knows where I can find a copy, please let me know.
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Fabulous Mini-Series
jimw22200026 September 2002
I was glued to the TV every week as it played out.

Peter Strauss was very good for his young age as was Nick Nolte. Nick Nolte played the bad son to a "t".

I saw Edward Asner in a different light after watching him as Axle Jordache - struggling baker.

I would love to find this series on DVD. Seeing that it is the "original" mini series, it is only right that it be preserved forever on the DVD format.
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The best mini-series I have ever seen
JimHammond5 July 2002
I first saw this series back in the 1970s, and to this day I still remember it well. It made stars out of Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss (too bad those two actors never worked together again), and Edward Asner's character stole the show during the first few episodes. I also read the book, and with the exception of the character of Julie Prescott (who in the series was a merging of three characters from the book), it remains very true to it.

If a local or cable TV channel ever plays this series, get your VCR ready. It is well worth the watch.
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Please help me find a copy!!
c.larabee3 July 2000
A great miniseries. I have not seen it in years. Would love to get a copy, but can't find one. The cast was great and Nolte/Tom was terrific. I would have to say that this was one the the best miniseries ever made if not THE best.
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Best Mini-series ever made.
Stringy-219 January 1999
Read the books, then watch the Mini-series. Absolutely great! It has everything: family turmoil, rivalry, rebellion, sex, violence, haunting characters, twists and turns. It's written and acted so well, you'll forget the passing of time - unless you had to watch it over several nights on TV like I did. The ending is a killer.
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