Language: English and French
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 52 min
National Film Board of Canada,
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation,
This six-part series traces three decades of an industrial and political dynasty in Montreal, from the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929 to the onset of the Quiet Revolution in 1960. The narrative revolves around Montreal financial tycoon James Munroe (Kenneth Welsh), his assistant, Gene Prudhomme (Gabriel Arcand), and Munroe’s wife, Catherine (Martha Henry), whom Munroe married for her position. There are also the four Munroe children: the wilful Cleo (Jennifer Dale), who narrates the story and is the most similar to her father; Jimmy (Peter Dvorsky), who hates business and turns to music; the idealistic Larry (Joseph Ziegler), who also rejects his father’s approach; and the confused and misunderstood Amy (Mitch Martin).
This big-budget ($3.8 million) CBC/Radio Canada/NFB co-production was the most ambitious to date in Canadian television and was widely acclaimed by critics and audiences alike when first telecast in early 1983. Firmly rooted in the Canadian ethos, persuasively written, and featuring several notable acting performances, Empire, Inc. set new standards for the potential of Canadian television drama and won numerous ACTRA Awards. Though it was often compared to Dallas, the series is rather a constant subversion of what Dallas stands for in relation to the American Dream, offering instead an essentially Canadian vision.
Denys Arcand served as script editor on the series and directed "Episode II: Brother, Can You Spare $17 Million," "Episode V: Titans Don’t Cry" and "Episode VI: The Last Waltz." Douglas Jackson directed "Episode I: Hello, Sucker," "Episode III: The Party is Over" and "Episode IV: Fathers and Sons."