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 entrepreneurs 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 »
The order to "fix bayonets" is given during the parade ground sequence. The soldiers continue marching without making any effort to attach bayonets to their rifles. See more »
(ca. 1755) (uncredited)
Traditional music of English origin
In the score for the opening scene
Hummed by Edward Arnold See more »
The Toast of New York, despite the lavish look, top-notch cast and occasional bursts of energy, is a ten-ton bore - chiefly, I think, because of the long-winded script and pedestrian direction. Others have commented on the production difficulties and personnel changes which may be responsible for the bland result. Early in the story we are treated to a colorful but talky exposition which sets the plot in motion: On the day the Civil War starts, Jim Fisk (Edward Arnold), itinerant peddler, and his partners in crime (Cary Grant and Jack Oakie) devise a scheme to buy cotton cheaply in the South, smuggle it North and sell it at a high price to New England mills, thus launching the career of one of the fabled financial speculators of the 19th century. But, instead of the whiz-bang, rise-and-fall saga laced with comedy which this introduction leads us to expect, we get 100 minutes of routine montages followed by more expository talk (mostly about financial deals), interspersed with boisterous crowd scenes and tepid romantic interludes with the exquisite Frances Farmer, who plays Josie Mansfield, an aspiring stage actress who is taken under Fisk's wing. None of this ever rises above the mundane. Edward Arnold gives his familiar robust, take-charge performance (see the 1937 screwball comedy EASY LIVING and the previous year's COME AND GET IT which this film resembles in theme and plot); Grant and Oakie are pretty much themselves as well, though the full impact of Grant's screen charisma is blunted in this non-comic role. Farmer is presented more as a comely production value than a full-blooded character. She spends most of her screen time in a series of splendid period gowns uttering banalities that barely suggest the emotional states of her character. She too played a similar role in COME AND GET IT, to far stronger effect. One would expect this kind of storytelling from a Warners assembly-line quickie, but it's terribly disappointing to encounter it in a 100-minute-plus grade-A production by RKO. I'll give it a "4" for Farmer and Arnold.
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