The Toast of New York (1937)

100 or 109 mins | Drama | 30 July 1937

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Robber Barons . According to modern biographical sources, James Fisk founded the Fisk & Belden brokerage house in 1866 with the help of Daniel Drew, a shrewd New York stockbroker who bullied and manipulated his way onto the board of directors of the Erie Railroad Company. As depicted in the film, Fisk and Drew then wrecked Erie through their stock manipulations. In 1868, Fisk, Drew and financier Jay Gould were responsible for driving up the price of gold, causing a nationwide economic depression. In Sep 1869, Fisk tried to corner the gold market but was outmaneuvered by President Grant, who released the government's gold supply in time to prevent a complete collapse. Edward S. Stokes shot and killed Fisk in Jan 1872 in a fight over a woman. Actress Josie Mansfield was one of Fisk's many romantic interests.
       Alexander Hall began as director of the picture, but was replaced by Rowland Lee in early Jan 1937 after he fell ill with pleurisy. According to a HR news item, two-thirds of the picture was shot by the time Hall left. However, the length of principal photography suggests that Lee reshot or expanded much of Hall's material. It is not known how much of Hall's footage was retained for the final film. According to an early Mar 1937 HR news item, Dudley Nichols rewrote "much of the script" on the set. A Dec 1936 HR news item adds Henry Kolker to the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. For the production, RKO ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Robber Barons . According to modern biographical sources, James Fisk founded the Fisk & Belden brokerage house in 1866 with the help of Daniel Drew, a shrewd New York stockbroker who bullied and manipulated his way onto the board of directors of the Erie Railroad Company. As depicted in the film, Fisk and Drew then wrecked Erie through their stock manipulations. In 1868, Fisk, Drew and financier Jay Gould were responsible for driving up the price of gold, causing a nationwide economic depression. In Sep 1869, Fisk tried to corner the gold market but was outmaneuvered by President Grant, who released the government's gold supply in time to prevent a complete collapse. Edward S. Stokes shot and killed Fisk in Jan 1872 in a fight over a woman. Actress Josie Mansfield was one of Fisk's many romantic interests.
       Alexander Hall began as director of the picture, but was replaced by Rowland Lee in early Jan 1937 after he fell ill with pleurisy. According to a HR news item, two-thirds of the picture was shot by the time Hall left. However, the length of principal photography suggests that Lee reshot or expanded much of Hall's material. It is not known how much of Hall's footage was retained for the final film. According to an early Mar 1937 HR news item, Dudley Nichols rewrote "much of the script" on the set. A Dec 1936 HR news item adds Henry Kolker to the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. For the production, RKO borrowed Edward Arnold from B. P. Schulberg Productions, Cary Grant and Frances Farmer from Paramount, and Mary Philips from M-G-M. According to an RKO publicity handbook, more than $40,000 worth of antiques were used in the film. The Var review lists the length of the film as seen at an 8 Jul 1937 preview as 93 minutes, but this time is probably an error. According to modern sources, the film, which cost $1,072,000 to make, lost $530,000, and was RKO's biggest box office failure in 1937. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Jul 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 Jul 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 36
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 36
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 37
p. 34.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 37
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 37
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
10 Jul 37
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Feb 37
p. 31.
Motion Picture Herald
17 Jul 37
p. 48.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Jul 37
pp. 41-45.
MPSI
1 Jan 37
p. 7.
New York Times
23 Jul 37
p. 16.
Variety
14 Jul 37
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Robert McClung
Billy Arnold
J. C. "Jack" Fowler
John Maurice Sullivan
Isabel La Mal
Don Brody
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Edward Small Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr to trmt
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost supplied by
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Montage
PRODUCTION MISC
Publicity wrt
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Book of Daniel Drew by Bouck White (New York, 1910) and the book Robber Barons
The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901 by Matthew Josephson (New York, 1934).
SONGS
"The First Time I Saw You" and "Ooh, La, La," words and music by Nathaniel Shilkret and Allie Wrubel
"Temptation Waltz," words and music by Nathaniel Shilkret and L. Wolfe Gilbert.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Robber Barons
Release Date:
30 July 1937
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 22 July 1937
Production Date:
14 December 1936--mid April 1937
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 July 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7472
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
100 or 109
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
2963
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During the Civil War, New Englander Jim Fisk, the "Barnum of Peddlers," and his confidence game partners, Nick Boyd and Luke, make a fortune smuggling Southern cotton but discover later that their profits, which Luke had converted into Confederate bonds, are worthless. Down but not beaten, Fisk devises a scheme whereby the bonds can be used to finagle the pious but greedy Daniel Drew into selling his shipping business and turn a profit for themselves. To celebrate their Wall Street triumph, Fisk, Boyd and Luke attend a French musical revue, where Fisk meets Josie Mansfield, the beautiful maid to the show's star. Mesmerized by the aspiring actress, Fisk dedicates himself to bankrolling a show for her, which annoys the equally infatuated, jealous Boyd. Drew, meanwhile, having been ridiculed by his longtime business rival, Cornelius Vanderbilt, approaches Fisk with a plan to prevent Vanderbilt from buying out his Erie railroad company, which Fisk cleverly expands upon to his own financial advantage. Vanderbilt's attempts at blocking Fisk's railroad stock manipulations fail, but infuriated investors chase Fisk and company all the way to New Jersey, where he establishes a military style stronghold. At the opening of her show, the New York audience, many of whom have lost money due to Fisk's schemes, turns on Josie, who, out of gratitude, has accepted Fisk's marriage proposal. Disenchanted and heartbroken over Josie, Boyd finally deserts his partner, whose lust for power and money culminates in a singlehanded attempt at cornering the gold market and leads to Black Friday. By releasing the government's gold supply to the public market, President Ulysses S. Grant finally stops Fisk's outrageous Wall Street manipulations. Shot ... +


During the Civil War, New Englander Jim Fisk, the "Barnum of Peddlers," and his confidence game partners, Nick Boyd and Luke, make a fortune smuggling Southern cotton but discover later that their profits, which Luke had converted into Confederate bonds, are worthless. Down but not beaten, Fisk devises a scheme whereby the bonds can be used to finagle the pious but greedy Daniel Drew into selling his shipping business and turn a profit for themselves. To celebrate their Wall Street triumph, Fisk, Boyd and Luke attend a French musical revue, where Fisk meets Josie Mansfield, the beautiful maid to the show's star. Mesmerized by the aspiring actress, Fisk dedicates himself to bankrolling a show for her, which annoys the equally infatuated, jealous Boyd. Drew, meanwhile, having been ridiculed by his longtime business rival, Cornelius Vanderbilt, approaches Fisk with a plan to prevent Vanderbilt from buying out his Erie railroad company, which Fisk cleverly expands upon to his own financial advantage. Vanderbilt's attempts at blocking Fisk's railroad stock manipulations fail, but infuriated investors chase Fisk and company all the way to New Jersey, where he establishes a military style stronghold. At the opening of her show, the New York audience, many of whom have lost money due to Fisk's schemes, turns on Josie, who, out of gratitude, has accepted Fisk's marriage proposal. Disenchanted and heartbroken over Josie, Boyd finally deserts his partner, whose lust for power and money culminates in a singlehanded attempt at cornering the gold market and leads to Black Friday. By releasing the government's gold supply to the public market, President Ulysses S. Grant finally stops Fisk's outrageous Wall Street manipulations. Shot by an angry, riotous investor, the defeated Fisk gives Josie and Boyd his blessing and dies. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.