Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers

Emmy winning television series from the 70s
Emmy winning television series from the 70s

Television mini-series based on the Arthur Hailey novel about two of people’s favourite subjects – power and money.  The novel was a best-seller and the mini-series was very popular.  Set your phasers to nostalgia.

 

At First Mercantile American bank the president announces to his stunned workers that he is dying and that as a result is stepping down.  After the shock wears off the realization sets in that he will be looking for a successor.  The two vice presidents are the obvious choices.  Alex Vandervoort (Kirk Douglas – Spartacus, Paths of Glory) and Roscoe Heyward (Christopher Plummer – A Beautiful Mind, The Sound of Music) couldn’t be more different.  Alex is hard working and honest wanting what is best for the bank.  Roscoe is skilled and would sell his own mother to the wolves to become president.  The bank’s board is going to have to choose between the two.

 

In order to secure his advantage Roscoe brings on board the über successful George Quartermain (Lorne Greene – from television’s Bonanza).  The thing is that Quartermain wants more from the bank than it should give him.  Alex seems to be the only one troubled by that.

 

Alex has not made fans of others by asking the bank to fund a project for the disadvantaged associated with his lawyer girlfriend, Margot Bracken (Susan Flannery – from television’s The Bold and the Beautiful).  The bank pulls out and Alex does battle with them.

 

The bank is also preoccupied with trouble it is having with false credit cards being circulated. It is up to the bank’s head of security, Nolan Wainwright (Percy Rodrigues – from television’s Benson), to figure out which of the bank employees is behind it.

 

Most of the time when a novel is adapted to film or television the main criticism is faithfulness to the original material.  Here this is not an issue as it has been brought to the small screen almost page by page.  Yes, it is long but there is plenty going on so it never drags.  Though it is rather soap opera-ish it does also touch upon several important issues in the 70s (and now) like poverty, homosexuality, success, the evils of big banking, and infidelity.

 

Another reason to watch this is the chance to see Christopher Plummer and Kirk Douglas go head to head.  Both have huge onscreen presences and it is fun to watch.  As a result Christopher Plummer won an Emmy.

 

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