The Secret Life of John Chapman (1976)


The true story of John Chapman, a college president who took a sabbatical and went out and got a job as a general laborer, to try to experience life outside his well-ordered but insulated college environment.

Director: David Lowell Rich.
Writers: John R. Coleman (book), Albert Ruben.
Stars: Ralph Waite, Susan Anspach, Brad Davis, Elayne Heilveil, Pat Hingle.


Found on Youtube, trimmed some parts where it would go to black screen for 10+ seconds (no re-encoding) and denoised the audio a little bit, quality is not very good but acceptable, pretty rare TV movie.

How would you rate this movie?

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  1. Wolfgang JAHN
    May 29, 2022

    Down-to-earth actors playing down-to-earth parts in a down-to-earth (TV-)movie from the 1970ies. What more could you ask for? And what do you get? You get pure 70ies magic!

    This is a lovely one, a really lovely one! Has its heart at the right place and is a joy to watch. Those were the 70ies, when you did get piles of those as time went by.

    Today fare like this wouldn´t get financing, but who cares? Actors like those we don´t have anymore, and the posers from today couldn´t believeable play working class people. There aren´t any movies made, dealing with working class people – or class warfare – anyway.

    Helmed by David Lowell Rich in the directors chair and a staple cast of 70ies household names plus an engrossing story and a sweet romance on top of it (Susan Anspachs smile outclasses Julia Roberts´ easily), nothing can go wrong and nothing did.

    When I was a teen David Lowell Rich was a name I´ve seen come up on the small screen quite a couple of times and though I´ve long forgotten most of his movies I saw back then, his name stuck with me. So when this one popped up and I checked its high IMDB-rating of 7,0 on the IMDB, I knew this is one for me.

    Since the summary describes the movie correctly I won´t go into that, but I want to pay my respects to the wonderful cast, all of whom have left us already. Together, Ralph Waite, Susan Anspach and Pat Hingle (who has 200 entries in the IMDB!) have probably been in every 3rd big- and small-screen movie made in that beautiful decade and starred in some of the best ones back then, eg. THE LANDLORD, FIVE EASY PIECES, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, BLUME IN LOVE, THE BIG FIX, COOL HAND LUKE, LAWMAN, THE GRISSOM GANG, CHATO´S LAND, TROUBLE MAN, THE STONE KILLER, ON THE NICKEL (also directy by Waite!), HANG ´EM HIGH, THE SUPER COPS, THE GAUNTLET, NORMA RAE, … sorry for the name dropping, but their output is so impressive that paying respect is a matter of dignity.

    Nevertheless, they´re practically forgotten today, their movies live a life in obscurity and though character actors would deserve more recognition and some retrospective of their best output, I doubt they ever get that (at least none retrospective that I´d know of).

    So I highly recommend watching this lovely gem, which I rate 8/10, and invite all happy viewers to check out, which other movies D.L. Rich and his very very able cast – including Brad Davis – did accomplish back then. You won´t be disappointed. Thumbs up!

    Thanx Jon for making it available!

    • Shel
      April 12, 2024

      Interesting you bring up how today’s Hollywood and mainstream showbiz rarely make movies about working class issues and people, yet they’re supposed to be so “woke”.. Woke should mean more than just having a white woman or a black person in every hero role–not like white women were ever underrepresented in the movies anyway.

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