Richie Rich (film) (Johnsonverse)

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Richie Rich 1977 poster.png
Genre: Action
Comedy
Drama
Photography: Color
Running Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 1977
Production Companies: Johnson Studios
Harey Comics
Timothy Hill Productions
Distributed by: Johnson Studios
Directed by: Timothy Hill
Written by: Timothy Hill
Produced by: Timothy Hill
Music by: Cal Johnson
Starring: Eli Nelson
Melissa Gilbert
Robert Downey, Jr.
John Cleese
René Auberjonois
Florence Henderson
William Shatner
Brian Blessed
Judi Dench
Burt Reynolds
Language: English
Country: United States
Photography: Color
Budget: $75 million
Box office: $120.1 million
Next film: Richie Rich II (1980)


Richie Rich (stylized as Ri¢hie Ri¢h) is a 1977 American comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Timothy Hill in his directorial debut, based on the comic book series of the same name produced by Harvey Comics. It stars Eli Nelson as the title character, alongside Melissa Gilbert, Robert Downey, Jr., John Cleese, René Auberjonois, Florence Henderson, Brian Blessed, William Shatner, Judi Dench, and Burt Reynolds. The film follows Richie, who must retrieve his parents' fortune after it was lost in a heist conducted by media mogul Lawrence Van Dough and his son Reggie.

The film was released by Johnson Studios on December 20, 1977, and was praised for its adherence to the comics, as well as its acting, direction, and effects. Auberjonois would reprise the role of Richard in the second animated series. It was also the first major release of Timothy Hill Productions, Hill's production company (before then, the studio only produced independent films). It also brought renewed interest in the comics, and

Plot

Richie Rich (Eli Nelson) is a 12-year-old boy living in Richville, a town in the West Coast (implied to be in California). He is the heir to the Rich fortune and the only son of Richard (René Auberjonois) and Regina Rich (Florence Henderson). He has a girlfriend, Gloria Glad (Melissa Gilbert), and best friends in Freckles (Sheldon Johnson, Jr.) and Pee-Wee Friendly (Jay Nelson), as well as another friend named Mayda Munny (Jodie Foster), who wants to steal Richie's heart from Gloria. His rival in school is his snobby cousin Reggie Van Dough (Robert Downey, Jr.), son of media mogul Lawrence Van Dough (Brian Blessed) of Van Dough Media.

One night, Lawrence, his wife Vanessa (Judi Dench), the Van Dough Media President William Prowse (Burt Reynolds) and Reggie come to the Rich mansion. They meet Cadbury (John Cleese), Irona (Joan Rivers), Chef Pierre (Marlon Brando), Professor Keenbean (William Shatner), and Bascomb (Billy Crystal). While this happens, large trucks head to the Rich vaults, and several people come out to blow up the vault doors and steal all their contents; money, gold coins, jewelry, and deeds to every piece of real estate the Rich family owns. After Prowse and the Van Doughs leave, Richard comes to check on the vaults, only to find that there was nothing inside, except a little note inside the first saying, "I'll do anything to expand my fortune.", which Richard determines is from Van Dough. The next day, the IRS comes to repossess Richard's house, and several repo men come to repossess every piece of furniture in the house. A crestfallen Richard is forced to lay off all his employees and move the family to a run-down apartment in Los Agradable, an ironically-named, gang-ridden town directly next to Richville.

Richie, however, is determined to reclaim the Rich family fortune and expose Van Dough Media. He gathers his friends (who are still in Richville) and reveals his plan. While Gloria and others are hopeful this will succeed, Mayda demands that her plan be used, in which she will save Richie from an explosion. She and Gloria argue over this until Richie stops it by screeching his nails on a chalkboard, and assigns everyone; Freckles and Pee-Wee to keep the guards distracted, Gloria to disguise herself as a Van Dough employee, Mayda to watch, and himself to lead the plan. He also calls on Cadbury and Keenbean, who were among those laid off, to help him, the former having fought in World War II for the Allies, and the latter having a bachelor's degree in science.

One evening, Gloria, under the alias "Gertrude Green", comes to Van Dough Media's corporate headquarters. She claims to a receptionist that she's applying for a job as a "hygiene technician", and the receptionist tells her that the job is available. While cleaning a restroom, "Gertrude" phones Cadbury, notifying him that she had the receptionist fooled. Freckles and Pee-Wee walk up to two guards, putting on their best "puppy-dog" faces and awing the guards. Cadbury then knocks them unconscious, and breaks in to the vault door. Richie and his friends retrieve the money, only to be caught by Reggie, who phones his father. Lawrence then calls the cops on them, and they're put in jail.

Meanwhile, Richard and Regina are looking for Richie, fearing that he ran away. They put up "Missing" posters in every pole in Los Agradable, and contact the police, who tell them that Richie and his friends committed a bank robbery at the Van Dough building. Richard and Regina decide to go there, knowing that Richie is trying to retrieve the Riches' stolen fortune.

After three days, Richie and his friends decide to try to escape. After Richie, Gloria, Freckles, and Pee-Wee saw the jail doors off, the gang succeeds, only to be caught by guards. The guards, however, realize they're innocents needlessly put in jail. They come back to the Van Dough building and meet Van Dough and Prowse, the former of whom straps a 10-minute sticky bomb on Gloria, and has already tied Richard and Regina to chairs to stop them from foiling his plan. During this time, Cadbury is denied entry, though he immediately knocks out all the guards. Keenbean tries to remove the bomb, to no avail. Mayda attempts to seize the opportunity and take Richie's heart, but Richie rebuffs her and tells her that this is no time to ask him out at a time like this. As Cadbury walks up the stairs, Van Dough reveals that he tricked Prowse into doing his dirty work for him and fires him, remarking that he was no use to him any longer, and says to Gloria, "Your boy will have a nice life in the poorhouse while you blow up in pieces, and your would-be in-laws will spend the rest of their lives all tied up. Accept it. No matter what, it! Won't! Deactivate!", which causes the bomb to deactivate. Cadbury walks in the door and calls the cops on Van Dough, and he gets arrested. During this time, the press comes to the Van Dough building, asking questions.

The next day, the Rich fortune is reclaimed, and Richard is reading a newspaper saying, "Billionaire Caught! Van Dough Media Stock Drops To All-Time Low - Prowse Is New CEO" while Richie, Gloria, Freckles, Pee-Wee and Mayda celebrate their victory in a party. Reggie comes in, explaining that he's been transferred to foster care and claims to have been reformed. He gives Richie a present, and Richie opens it, only to find rubber worms coming out. Richie remarks that at least some things remain the same in the Van Dough family. The credits sequence depicts an animated version of Richie and his friends (all depicted just like in the comics) in a recap of the film's events.

A post-credits scene shows Van Dough in jail, reading the same newspaper that Richard is reading, before furiously ripping it in several pieces and swearing revenge on "those meddling punks".

Cast

  • Eli Nelson as Richie Rich - The 11-year-old son of Richard and Regina Rich, and the heir of the Rich fortune.
  • Melissa Gilbert as Gloria Glad -
  • René Auberjonois as Richard Rich -
  • Judi Dench as Regina Rich -
  • Sheldon Johnson, Jr. as Freckles Friendly -
  • Jay Nelson as Pee-Wee Friendly -
  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Reggie Van Dough -
  • Jodie Foster as Mayda Munny -
  • Brian Blessed as Lawrence Van Dough -
  • Florence Henderson as Vanessa Van Dough -
  • Burt Reynolds as William Prowse -
  • John Cleese as Herbert Cadbury -
  • Joan Rivers as Irona -
  • Marlon Brando as Chef Camille Pierre -
  • William Shatner as Professor Ken Keenbean -
  • Billy Crystal as Jim Bascomb -

Gallery

Production

Development

Production for the film began in 1973. Timothy Hill, an up-and-coming director who read the comics during his childhood (and still has all of them in a collection), was signed on to direct in 1975. Artists Warren Kremer, Sid Jacobson, and Ernie Colón were brought in as consultants.

Casting

Music

The music score was done by Cal Johnson and the Johnson Philharmonic Orchestra. The score was designed to invoke

Credits sequence

The animated credits sequence was animated by Richard Williams and a team of nine other animators. Williams considered it a "fun experience".

Release

Critical reception

The film holds an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Its consensus reads, "Based on the successful series of comics, Richie Rich is a live-action thrill ride with a great cast and an exciting storyline". Critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave it "two thumbs up" on the television series Sneak Previews.

Box office

Upon release, the film grossed over $120,983,649 ($534,186,464.23 in 2020) at the box office against a $75 million budget, making it a commercial success.

Home video

The first-ever VHS of the film was released on November 19, 1978 by Johnson Home Video, in time for the holiday season.

Legacy

Accolades