This episode leans to the comic as Ronald Reagan plays the colorful and somewhat notorious California financier William Chapman Ralston. The way Reagan does finance he has the guts of a burglar.
And he'll need that in conning the head of the San Francisco Mint played by Judson Pratt. The time is 1869 and there is a panic brought on by some speculation. The back story of that is in the east where Jay Gould and Jim Fisk are trying to corner the gold market. That's not explained here, what is explained is that the Bank of California which Ralston founded is in danger of going under and the man needs specie as paper money will not satisfy the depositors should there be a run.
I won't go into the con game that Reagan plays, but it has to do with the vanity of a man not willing to admit to certain limits that getting older imposes. With it Reagan manages to get San Francisco safe from the panic sweeping the country.
Six years later William Chapman Ralston dies, possibly of accidental drowning, possibly of suicide when he overextended himself credit wise during another financial panic. But Reagan in this plays one of the more lighthearted parts I ever saw him in before going into politics.
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