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The story starts just before the Civil War, showing Fisk, Boyd, and Luke conning Southern townsfolk into buying bars of soap that, might, have a $10 gold piece inside. Found out, they're chased out of town and escape across the Mason-Dixon Line just as the war starts. Fisk hatches a plan for him and Boyd to return to the South and buy cotton then smuggle it to the North where Luke is to sell it to the Northern textile mills. By the end of the war they have made millions, only to find out that Luke had been re-investing their money into Confederate Bonds. This fact-based movie shows Jim Fisk as one of the greatest con-men and entrepreneur's in history. It concludes with his involvement in "Black Friday", the Financial Panic of 1869, with fellow financier Jay Gould (who's not represented in the movie) and their attempt to corner the U.S. gold market. There's a love triangle between Fisk, Boyd and Mansfield, which is also based on historical accounts. Written by
Both Fisk and his partner Ned Stokes (called Nick Boyd in the movie) were married but competed for the affections of showgirl Josie Mansfield. In real life she was a world-wise dark-haired, full-figured woman who bore little resemblance to the innocent, apple-cheeked blonde sincerity of Francis Farmer. Stokes and Mansfield blackmailed Fisk, and Stokes shot Fisk to death in 1872. Although the dying Fisk named Stokes as his murderer, he only served four years of a six year term for manslaughter. See more »
After the photographer's first attempt to take the picture is ruined by being over-exposed, he fails to change the plate before taking the second one. See more »
It's rare to see the iconic Cary Grant get second billing, but in 1937, he did, under Edward Arnold in "The Toast of New York." This is the purported story of financial schemer Jim Fisk (Arnold), who, in the 1800s, tried to corner the gold market, oversold stock to his railroad company, and fled to New Jersey, continuing to print convertible bonds where no one could get him. The film takes a lot of liberties with the truth but it leaves no doubt that Fisk was a real character, beautifully portrayed by the talented, energetic Arnold. Grant plays his co-conspirator who also loves Fisk's discovery, Josie Mansfield (Frances Farmer). Fisk is madly in love with her and wants to make her a big star.
I have to say the movie dragged for me, and I didn't find it particularly interesting. The point of interest in it today, I guess, would be the presence of Frances Farmer, whose fascinating story was made into "Frances" starring Jessica Lange (and wow, the resemblance is incredible). Farmer was very beautiful with a deep voice that didn't really match her looks. The fact that her life story made her better known than her film career ever could have shouldn't be confused with acting ability, which wasn't that great on film. She was probably much more effective on stage. She doesn't register much here -in fact, the only ones who do are Arnold and Donald Meek. Handsome Grant doesn't have much to do - seen today, that's disconcerting. Viewers are used to him being the whole show.
Overall, a disappointment, though Arnold was a strong actor who usually did supporting roles. This is a rare lead for him, and he's more than up to the task.
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