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Rip MacCool has learned early in life that "money talks" (and other stuff walks), as does the audience via flashbacks, and when he arrives in San Francisco, he has no qualms about being ruthless in business, and his first fast-deal bilks Ada Stritch out of her hotel. A combination of shrewd deals and playing the stock market builds him a financial empire. He marries Lily Douvane, who presents him with a child, but Lily has some ambitions of her own and leaves him, taking a sizable chuck of his money on the way out. He soon marries Zoe Carnot, his son's nurse, loses and wins a fortune again, but sinks into gloom when Zoe dies giving childbirth. He keeps piling up the money and he soon as most of it in San Francisco, and there is about to be a run on the bank, operated by Ada Stritch (from way back there), and the city and its citizens face ruin. Rip puts up his fortune against the bank and a hand of cards dictates winner-takes-all. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rip McCool (David Brian) has 19th century San Francisco at his mercy since he has all the money and they have none. Angry villagers are lining up outside the bank before it opens in the morning so that they can clean out what little there is or kick some banker (Mercedes McCambridge) butt.
Friends, enemies and the ambivalent gather in Rip's upholstered parlor to plead for themselves and the town. Through a series of flashbacks, we see the roller coaster journey of an ambitious man coming up through Hard Knocks University, who has managed to frustrate and confound all with whom he comes in contact. They want to like him, but he just won't let 'em. An exception is Rip's loyal man Friday (Lon Chaney, Jr.), who knows why Rip is a hard case and unlike the other characters, has seen a positive side of his nature. He may just be easily impressed.
The suspense turns on whether McCool will bail out the city or let it go to the pelicans. The city's fate is to be decided by single game of stud poker between McCool and his arch rival the banker. This can of corn is worth watching and should be better known. MGM production values and fine performances by almost everyone provide an enjoyable watch. Barbara Billingsley (aka June Cleaver) has a nice bit and I found it gratifying to see Lon Chaney, Jr. in a role that allowed him to do more (emotionally) than he normally was asked to do.
All in all, pretty enjoyable.
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