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The Toast of New York

The Toast of New York(1937)

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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 September 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 January 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 January 1937 after he fell ill with pleurisy. According to a Hollywood Reporter 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 March 1937 Hollywood Reporter news item, Dudley Nichols rewrote "much of the script" on the set. A December 1936 Hollywood Reporter 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 Variety review lists the length of the film as seen at an July 8, 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.