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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
Superficial, but enjoyable large-scale Hollywood entertainment
While this fact-based picture is wildly inaccurate in it's depiction Jim Fisk's life and death, THE TOAST OF NEW YORK remains an entertaining portrait of the financial scene in New York during the late 1800s. Three writers are credited with a screenplay that does not skimp on moral and financial complexities (although the film's romantic triangle is handled rather routinely), and director Robert V. Lee manages to keep everything moving at a brisk pace while effectively juggling piercing melodrama with lovely moments of light comedy. Edward Arnold and Frances Farmer contribute terrific performances, and Cary Grant is also memorable playing second banana to Arnold's Fisk - although no one else in the cast makes much of an impression. This lavish, expensively budgeted film was a box office flop when originally released, but it holds up quite nicely all these decades latter and deserves to be rediscovered by a larger audience.
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