Rich Man, Poor Man

Based on Irwin Shaw’s novel, this is one of the best miniseries made in the 70’s.

Rudy (Peter Strauss) and Tom (Nick Nolte) Jordache are teenager brothers growing up in the years after WWII. They live in Port Phillip, New York, where their father, a German inmigrant (played by Ed Asner) works long hours at his bakery downstairs. His tortured past has made him a bitter and mean person, and he treats his family almost as a drill sergeant treats his soldiers. Their mother (Dorothy Maguire) is no saint either. She nags her husband constantly and shows favoritism to Rudy, believing he is the family’s only hope.

The brothers’ lives take an unexpected turn, when Tom watches Julie (Susan Blakely), Rudy’s girlfriend, being intimate with an older man. This sets a chain of events that separate both brothers for life. From that event on, you get hooked rooting for both of them in their own paths, one becoming a senator, the other, a man on the verge of tragedy and disaster.

The story takes us from the late 1940’s to the late 1960’s. The brothers lives are surrounded by some other complex characters that make this drama worth the 27 hours and 17 minutes you’ll spend watching it. From Willie (played by Bill Bixby in his best role ever), a troubled man who marries Julie, to Falconetti (William Smith) a sailor whose existence revolves around bullying people until meeting Tom Jordache.

Rich Man, Poor Man is a moving story of how people are shaped by their backgrounds and circumstances and you’ll learn how there are times when life’s journey is filled with missed opportunities to change one’s destiny.

See also with Nick Nolte: Peaceful Warrior (2006), The Beautiful Country (2004), Blue Chips (1994)

See also with Peter Strauss: Joan of Arc (1999), Masada (1981), A Whale For The Killing (1981)

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