Rich Man, Poor Man-Book Two: Chapters 1-22 (1976)

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Released 2-Sep-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Series Main Menu Audio & Animation-Full motion plus main title theme.
Theatrical Trailer-A Handful of Dust (2:42) : Ratio 1.85:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-The Lady Eve (2:10) : Ratio 1.33:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-Picnic at Hanging Rock (5:00) : Ratio 1.33:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-The Getting of Wisdom (2:38) : Ratio 1.33:1, 4x3.
Theatrical Trailer-The Sissi Collection (7:03) : Ratio 1.33:1, 4x3.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 1049:17 (Case: 990)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lou Antonio
Bill Bixby
Alex Segal
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Peter Strauss
Gregg Henry
James Carroll Jordan
Susan Sullivan
Peter Haskell
William Smith
Kay Lenz
Susan Blakeley
Penny Peyser
Ken Swofford
Cassie Yates
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $69.95 Music Alex North
Michael Isaacson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, Moderate and in character.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    


    After the enormous ground-breaking success of the first-ever TV mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man in 1976, the inevitable sequel was before the public within twelve months. Umbrella Entertainment have thankfully released that sequel, Rich Man, Poor Man : Book II , in a six disc set, thus completing the saga of Rudy Jordache. Though not up to the standard of its incomparable predecessor, these further twenty-two chapters reward us with almost eighteen hours of engrossing dramatic entertainment that will more than satisfy the many fans of the original series.

    The second "book" begins in Antibes in 1965, with a recapitulation of the closing chapter of the original series, culminating in the burial at sea of Tom, the brother of Rudy Jordache (Peter Strauss). By Rudy's side is his wife, Julie (Susan Blakeley), who had provided the catalyst for Tom's death by becoming involved with Falconetti (William Smith). The new screenplay begins tying up the loose ends from the first series. Rudy offers Tom's widow, Kate (Kay Lenz), to take her son Wesley (Willie Aames) and give him a home and all that his money can provide. For the boy's good she agrees. Falconetti is captured by the French police, identified by Rudi, and arrested for Tom's murder. Julie announces that she is leaving Rudy. That tidies up the original plot lines.

    We move on to 1968,  the divorce is being finalised and Julie tells Rudy that her son, Billy, is in Viet Nam. America is in the turmoil of war, and the Nixon LBJ election is looming. Rudy is feeling that his perpetual drive for success has left him with an empty life and he tells fellow senator Marsh Goodwin (Van Johnson) that he intends to leave politics. Meanwhile, Rudy's old mentor, businessman Duncan Calderwood (Ray Milland), is having problems with his company, Westco. Three subsidiary companies have been taken over by a mystery firm called Tricorp, headed, we later learn by ruthless billionaire Charles Estep (Peter Haskell). Rudy goes to Viet Nam to investigate one of these business manoeuvres, and there runs into Julie, on a photography assignment. Here there are dramatic developments which I will not spoil. Billy, also in Viet Nam, rebuffs Rudy's offer of assistance when he gets out of the service, having plans to enter the music business. On his return to the US, Rudy discovers that Wesley is being expelled from college for seducing a campus wife. We also see an escaped Falconetti turn up in the US, surprising his sister, and seething to avenge himself upon Rudy. Disconcertingly we learn that he also has a first name, Anthony. Rudy also has a surprise at his door. The expelled Wesley already in residence, Billy turns up and announces that he is accepting Rudy's offer. Episode two ends with the three men standing in the foyer of the Jordache mansion.

    By the time we have reached this final scene in the second episode most of the plot elements are in place for the new series plot developments. Throughout the ensuing episodes two forces are out to destroy Rudy Jordache. - Estep and Falconetti. Rudy continues to investigate the Tricorp takeovers bringing him into conflict with the ruthless Estep, and his wife with the mysterious past. The fascinatingly sinister one-eyed Falconetti, continues to seek his revenge, acquiring along the way, with the assistance of his sister, a new eye. Added to this are the stories of the two young men, Wesley and Billy, each reflecting traits of young Tom and Rudy from the first series. Surprises and twists abound throughout the intricate screenplay, which had a number of writers, the work "based on characters created by Irwin Shaw". It can't be denied that this second "book" does not have the power of the first, and that is mainly because it does not have as memorable characters. Nevertheless, by the time we get to the final few episodes the dramatic engine has real momentum and the resolution in Las Vegas's neon dazzling Fremont Street is memorably powerful, heightened by the strains of Stardust which had been used so effectively early in the love story of Rudy and Julie.

    This time round much of the weight of the series is on the comparatively slight shoulders of Peter Strauss, but he carries every episode superbly. Only a few years earlier this actor had seemed a boy in Soldier Blue, with Candice Bergen - an unforgettable and much maligned film. Here a handful of year later he is faultless playing an almost  middle aged, disillusioned man, who sees himself as failing in all areas of his life. The two young men cast as the next generation Tom and Rudy are a mixed pair. Gregg Henry, in his first role, is exceptionally good, not copying Nick Nolte but definitely cut from the same cloth - and apparently with a clause in his contract that insisted he remove at least his shirt once each episode. With his mixture of charm and the intense rebelliousness he makes Wesley a real and sympathetic character. Henry has worked incessantly in film and on TV since this debut, and at present is working on the highly successful series The Riches. (It is peculiar that this actor's name appears on the slick only in the back cover blurb.) Not so fortunate was the casting of James Carroll Jordan in the role of Billy. Having made his acting debut in The Partridge Family in 1972, playing a character named "Goose" (?), Jordan, an attractive young man,  is very self conscious on screen, seeming always to be acting in front of a mirror. He has the less sympathetic character, but it his acting that is bad, not the character.

    The females in the cast are many and all competent and effective in their roles. There is no standout, like Susan Blakeley or Dorothy Maguire from the previous series, but there is much to enjoy. Beautiful, and a convincing actress, is Susan Sullivan as Maggie Porter, the lawyer cum  love interest for Rudy. Maggie has some opposition when Kay Lenz, reprising her role, makes a welcome re-entry in Chapter 14. Dimitra Arliss makes a dramatic impact as Maria Falconetti and there is a more than welcome, too brief appearance by the wonderful Madeleine Sherwood (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Other familiar faces encountered along the way are Barry Sullivan, Dick Sergeant, Ken Swofford, Colleen Camp, Sorrell Booke and there is even an acting/singing appearance by Broadway legend - the original "Tony" in West Side Story - Larry Kert, whose name I cannot find in the credits.

    Finally the two villains! Peter Haskell and William Smith are two perfect villains, one the antithesis of the other. Estep, coldly ruthless,  is all smooth sophistication and charm while Falconetti, fired by vengeance,  is rough and vulgar. These are two classic villains, each with his own story and motivation,  ultimately uniting plot and character in their common goal to destroy Rudy Jordache.
  
    With multiple directors, including Bill Bixby, but primary credit going to Lou Antonio, this is a slick and polished production. Photography is uniformly excellent, except for the rather intrusive overuse of the zoom - but that was the 70s! Today we have the affected hand-held wobbles. Backlot Viet Nam is convincing, interiors are intricate and precise while location scenes around the US abound, with particularly vivid glimpses of Las Vegas. There is the occasional insert, such as planes landing and taking off,   that is of lesser quality, but generally this is first rate Hollywood. Attention to period is commendable, with clothes, hairstyles - male and female - and music. The sections which have the music business as their background are particularly well done, and refreshingly unusual for a TV series.

    In the closing episode of Book One, Rudy confessed to his dying brother that he thought that he, Rudy, had become "one of the bad guys". Book Two ends resolving that dilemma for Rudy, at least we hope that it has. I feel sure that you, if you enjoyed Book One, will spend many satisfying and rewarding hours journeying with Rudy to the close of the Jordache saga. This was, and is, vastly superior television.
 

 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    After a slight murkiness at the beginning of the first disc, the remainder of the video transfer is very pleasing.
    The source used was obviously in very good to excellent condition.
   
    The transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. There is no enhancement, of course.
    The entire running time of seventeen and a half hours is extremely sharp and clear. Full face closeups are frequently used and these are remarkably sharp.
    Shadow detail is generally good, although most of the photography is quite bright and well lit.
    There is no low level noise.
    There is very little variation of colour throughout the almost eighteen hours.
    The Technicolor image is most attractive, with an attractive amount of grain. Colours are bright and rich and skin tones are excellent.
    The occasional stock film insert is always not up to the quality of the rest of the footage, generally exhibiting more grain and damage.
    The only film-to-video artefact noted was moderate aliasing, mainly on fabrics - houndstooth was popular -  and the occasional car grille. This is an extremely minor problem.
    Film artefacts were limited to slight white flecking, fairly frequent in the opening episode, but generally difficult to spot (!). Some damage was noted in Chapter 1 (24:36) and later one more serious large white blop in Chapter 21 (19:05), but this was isolated.

    There are English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which were sampled and found to be accurate.
    The six discs are dual layer, with no layer change within an episode.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is original mono, but of very good quality.
    There is one audio stream, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 192  Kbps.
    The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand - every word of almost eighteen hours.
    There is a no crackle or pop, the sound stage being extremely clean and free of background noise.
    There were no sync problems.
    There was one minor drop-out problem in Chapter 21 (14:19 - 14:23) - this was double checked.
    
    The mono soundtrack is generally in extremely good shape, reproducing everything dramatically and dynamically. Alex North's original theme still sounds great, and the score by Michael Isaacson is attractively presented, as is music of the era.
     

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   The only "extras" to be found in the set are a selection of Umbrella Entertainment trailers. It is regrettable that there is not one piece of comment on this set, or the original series. I wonder if anyone approached Nick Nolte, Peter Strauss or, especially, Gregg Henry, who is at present riding high with The Riches on TV. This is a real lost opportunity.

Menu

    The Main Menu on each disc is presented with a collection of portraits of the characters, and an insert montage from those episodes. The main theme provides the audio.
    On all discs there are the first three options, with the fourth option on Discs 1, 4, 5 and 6.
                * Play All Chapters
                * Select Chapters : The new screen has a still, no sound and the three or four chapters listed.
                * Set Up : The new screen has a still, no audio, and the ON / OFF option.
                * Umbrella Trailers : Two trailers per disc, the new screen having a still/graphic of one trailer and an arrow to the alternate trailer.

Umbrella Trailers

Disc 1 : Picnic at Hanging Rock (05:00) : The lengthy original theatrical trailer presented 1.33:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.
            The Getting of Wisdom  (02:38) : The original theatrical trailer, 1.33:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Disc 4 :Thriller - Series 1 and 2 (02:14) : Not a trailer as such, but a scene between an overwrought Barbara Feldon and Robert Stephens, 1.33:1, 4x3, mono.
            My Favourite Martian - Season 3 (01:54) : The opening credits plus one short scene. Colorized, 1.33:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Disc 5 : A Handful of Dust (02:42) : The original theatrical trailer presented 1.85:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.
            The Lady Eve (02:10) : Surprisingly this is the complete, intact, original 1941 theatrical trailer presented 1.33:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

Disc 6 : The Sissi Collection  (07:03) : Two original theatrical trailers in one, presented 1.33:1, 4x3, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.
             Sons and Daughters (01:19) : The opening credits plus a short scene. Presented 1.33:1, 4x3, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is no current release of this title in Region 1. The Region 2 release is identical to the Region 4.

Summary

    With an amazingly vivid transfer, this conclusion to the Rich Man, Poor Man saga may not be as compelling as Book One, but still is superior engrossing television of a very high standard. A huge achievement for its time, it endures as an intimate portrayal of one man in search of a meaningful identity in life, fighting against opposition dedicated to his destruction. Combined with Book One, it is a genuine television classic.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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