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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.
AT LAST ON DVD, A MUST HAVE!
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