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Faith and Fortune: The Reichmann Story 2000


Distributed by Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Produced by Alan Handel Productions
Directed by Directed by Alan Handel
VHS, color, 88 min.

High School - Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers

Date Entered: 11/09/2018

ALA Notable:
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Debra Mandel, Head, Media Center, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Based on the book, "The Reichmanns," by Anthony Bianco, this videotape provides a lively in-depth portrait of Paul Reichmann, a religious Canadian Orthodox Jew who studied to become a rabbi, but pursued his calling as a high stakes real estate developer instead. Scripted in the style of the Arts and Entertainment Biography series, this program combines archival footage and stills, newspaper clippings, and various interviews with Reichmann scholars and colleagues to zero in on Paul and the Reichmann family mystique. Through his genius for vision, negotiation, and schmoozing, Paul Reichmann is aptly compared to a toreador, butting up against challenge after challenge.

Perhaps more interesting than Paul’s rise to fortune, is the Reichmanns’ historical roots. On the heels of Hitler, Paul’s family fled German-occupied Austria for Paris and then Tangiers, where Paul’s father Samuel became a very prosperous money changer, and established a bank in his name. His activist wife Renee helped smuggle food to Jews in concentration camps within Europe using the Spanish Red Cross as a conduit. In 1944 she battled to get visas to Jews to come to Tangiers and saved 1500 lives.

Seeking new opportunities, the Reichmann family moved to Canada seeing Montreal, and then Toronto as centers with Jewish populations and financial possibilities. The family launched the very successful Olympia Floor and Tile Company and then the Olympia and Park real estate firm from which Paul and his brother Albert masterminded immense expensive building projects in Canada, New York, and London. The London footage is particularly notable as it chronicles Reichmann’s close alliance with Thatcher but environmental opposition from Prince Charles in developing the large scale controversial Canary Wharf project. This project brought the Reichmann family to bankruptcy from which they eventually healthily arose. A parallel can be drawn to the dramatic split between Paul and Albert over the project.

Faith and Fortune: The Reichmann Story is a well-told family history with a good balance of history, success, money, family, religion, and suspense. Romance does not figure into this story at all; perhaps that is in the sequel. In any event, this video, though perhaps too specialized for all collections, might be useful in larger collections of Jewish History, Canadian History, the Holocaust, Real Estate and Business, and biographies of the rich and famous.