The Toast of New York

Last updated
The Toast of New York
The Toast of New York Film Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rowland V. Lee
Screenplay by
Based onThe Book of Daniel Drew
by Bouck White and "Robber Barons"
by Matthew Josephson
Produced by Edward Small
Starring
Cinematography Peverell Marley
Edited by George Hively
Samuel E. Beetley
Music by Nathaniel Shilkret
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release date
  • July 22, 1937 (1937-07-22)
[1]
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.07 million [2]
Box office$1.05 million [2]

The Toast of New York is a 1937 American biopic directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Edward Arnold, Cary Grant, Frances Farmer, and Jack Oakie. The film is a fictionalized account of the lives of financiers James Fisk and Edward S. Stokes. [3] The screenplay was based on the book The Book of Daniel Drew by Bouck White and the story "Robber Barons" by Matthew Josephson. This is also Grant's first period film.

Contents

Plot

In post-Civil War America, unscrupulous, ambitious partners Jim Fisk (Arnold) and Nick Boyd (Grant) talk tight-fisted businessman Daniel Drew (Donald Meek) into selling them his shipping company, paying with worthless Confederate bonds. Later, worried that his longtime rival, Cornelius Vanderbilt (Clarence Kolb), is trying to take control of his railroad, Drew seeks help from Fisk, only to have him turn the situation to his own advantage. Fisk and Boyd eventually become powers to be reckoned with on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, both men fall in love with entertainer Josie Mansfield (Farmer). Mansfield agrees to marry Fisk out of gratitude, but really loves Boyd.

Fisk's greed grows beyond all reason and he tries to corner the market in gold. When Fisk ignores Boyd's warnings, Boyd turns against him, worried that the resulting panic threatens the financial system of the whole country. The federal government finally intervenes by releasing its gold reserves, bankrupting Fisk in the process.

Cast and characters

Production

The film was originally announced as The Robber Barons to star Robert Donat who had just made Count of Monte Cristo for producer Edward Small. [4]

Filming was meant to take four weeks but ended up taking fifteen with Arnold on $10,000 a week, half of which went to B. P. Schulberg who owned his contract. Costing Small this much money gave satisfaction to Arnold, who had been rejected by the producer seeking his representation as an agent in 1918. [5] Costs blew out on the production and there ended up being at least seven writers on the script. [6]

Reception

Reviews were mixed. Frank S. Nugent wrote that it was "only moderately entertaining" and "a familiar formula Arnold show." [7] Variety called it "good entertainment despite its inanities, extravagances and exaggerations." [8] Harrison's Reports wrote that it was "lacking in dramatic force" and had unsympathetic characters but offered "several thrilling moments." [9] Russell Maloney of The New Yorker called the story "fumbling and aimless" and found "shocking anachronisms" in the dialogue, concluding, "Not recommended." [10]

The film was a commercial disappointment, losing $530,000, making it RKO's biggest money loser of the year. [2] This led to Edward Small leaving RKO and returning to United Artists.

Related Research Articles

Jay Gould American railroad magnate (1836–1892)

Jason Gould was an American railroad magnate and financial speculator who is generally identified as one of the Robber barons of the Gilded Age. His sharp and often unscrupulous business practices made him one of the wealthiest men of the late nineteenth century. Gould was an unpopular figure during his life and remains controversial.

Daniel Drew American businessman

Daniel Drew was an American businessman, steamship and railroad developer, and financier. Summarizing his life, Henry Clews wrote: "Of all the great operators of Wall Street ... Daniel Drew furnishes the most remarkable instance of immense and long-continued success, followed by utter failure and hopeless bankruptcy".

Joseph L. Mankiewicz American film director, screenwriter, and producer

Joseph Leo Mankiewicz was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and won both the Academy Award for Best Director and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in consecutive years for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950), the latter of which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six.

<i>Mary of Scotland</i> (film) 1936 film by John Ford

Mary of Scotland is a 1936 RKO film starring Katharine Hepburn as the 16th-century ruler Mary, Queen of Scots. Directed by John Ford, it is an adaptation of the 1933 Maxwell Anderson play. The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols. It is largely in blank verse. Ginger Rogers wanted to play this role and made a screen test, but RKO rejected her request to be cast in the part feeling that the role was not suitable to her image.

Reginald Sheffield English-American actor (1901–1957)

Matthew Reginald Sheffield Cassan was an English-American actor.

<i>Come and Get It</i> (1936 film) 1936 American drama film directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler

Come and Get It is a 1936 American lumberjack drama film directed by Howard Hawks and William Wyler. The screenplay by Jane Murfin and Jules Furthman is based on the 1935 novel of the same title by Edna Ferber.

Edward Arnold (actor) American actor (1890–1956)

Günther Edward Arnold Schneider was an American actor of the stage and screen.

AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is the American Film Institute's list ranking the top 25 male and 25 female greatest screen legends of American film history and is the second list of the AFI 100 Years... series.

Robber baron (industrialist) American Gilded Age businessmen who were accused of using unscrupulous methods to get rich

Robber baron is a derogatory term of social criticism originally applied to certain wealthy and powerful 19th-century American businessmen. The term appeared as early as the August 1870 issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine. By the late 19th century, the term was typically applied to businessmen who purportedly used exploitative practices to amass their wealth. These practices included exerting control over natural resources, influencing high levels of government, paying subsistence wages, squashing competition by acquiring their competitors to create monopolies and raise prices, and schemes to sell stock at inflated prices to unsuspecting investors. The term combines the sense of criminal ("robber") and illegitimate aristocracy.

James Fisk (financier) American businessman

James Fisk Jr., known variously as "Big Jim", "Diamond Jim", and "Jubilee Jim" – was an American stockbroker and corporate executive who has been referred to as one of the "robber barons" of the Gilded Age. Though Fisk was admired by the working class of New York and the Erie Railroad, he achieved much ill-fame for his role in Black Friday in 1869, where he and his partner Jay Gould befriended the unsuspecting President Ulysses S. Grant in an attempt to use the President's good name in a scheme to corner the gold market in New York City. Several years later Fisk was murdered by a disgruntled business associate.

Edward Small was a film producer from the late 1920s through 1970, who was enormously prolific over a 50-year career. He is best known for the movies The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), The Corsican Brothers (1941), Brewster's Millions (1945), Raw Deal (1948), Black Magic (1949), Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and Solomon and Sheba (1959).

<i>The Son of Monte Cristo</i> 1940 film by Rowland V. Lee

The Son of Monte Cristo is a 1940 American black-and-white swashbuckling adventure film from United Artists, produced by Edward Small, directed by Rowland V. Lee, that stars Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, and George Sanders. The Small production uses the same sets and many of the same cast and production crew as his previous year's production of The Man in the Iron Mask. Hayward returned to star in Small's The Return of Monte Cristo (1946).

Rowland V. Lee Film director

Rowland Vance Lee was an American film director, actor, writer, and producer.

<i>The Eagle and the Hawk</i> (1933 film) 1933 film by Stuart Walker

The Eagle and the Hawk is a 1933 American Pre-Code aerial war film set in World War I. It was directed by Stuart Walker and Mitchell Leisen and was based on an original story by John Monk Saunders. The film stars Fredric March and Cary Grant as Royal Flying Corps fighter pilots. The supporting cast includes Carole Lombard, Jack Oakie, and Sir Guy Standing.

Grand Opera House (Manhattan)

Pike's Opera House, later renamed the Grand Opera House, was a theater in New York City on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. It was constructed in 1868, at a cost of a million dollars, for distiller and entrepreneur Samuel N. Pike (1822–1872) of Cincinnati. The building survived in altered form until 1960 as an RKO movie theater, after which it was replaced by part of Penn South, an urban renewal housing development.

<i>Radio City Revels</i> 1938 film by Benjamin Stoloff

Radio City Revels is a 1938 American musical comedy film directed by Benjamin Stoloff and starring Bob Burns, Jack Oakie and Ann Miller.

The Duke of West Point is a 1938 American drama film directed by Alfred E. Green. It was described as "A Yank at Oxford in reverse".

<i>The Falcon Out West</i> 1944 film by William Clemens

The Falcon Out West is a 1944 American mystery film directed by William Clemens and starring Tom Conway, Joan Barclay and Barbara Hale. The film was part of RKO's The Falcon series of detective films, this time, a murder set in Texas.

References

  1. Hanson, Patricia King, ed. (1993). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 2223. ISBN   0-520-07908-6.
  2. 1 2 3 Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  3. "The Toast of New York". Turner Classic Movies.
  4. "Robert Donat, Jack Oakie and Other Stars to Glisten on R.-K.-O. Program: Small Closes Deal for Reliance Films Kiepura's Next European Feature in Charge of "Casta Diva" Director; Jean Arthur and Melvyn Douglas to Join Talents" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 27 Jan 1936: A15.
  5. "HOLLYWOOD PICKET LINE: The Industry Watches the C. I. O.--Satisfaction--R. Halliburton Flynn" by DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL. New York Times 18 Apr 1937: 169.
  6. "HOLLYWOOD ON THE ROAD" by DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL. New York Times 21 Mar 1937: 173.
  7. The New York Times Film Reviews, Volume 2: 1932-1938. The New York Times & Arno Press. 1970. p. 1411.
  8. "Film Reviews". Variety . New York. July 14, 1937. p. 20.
  9. "The Toast of New York". Harrison's Reports . New York: 127. August 7, 1937.
  10. Maloney, Russell (July 31, 1937). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker . p. 49.