Allegedly based on two factual works, Bouck White's The Book of Daniel Drew and Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons, RKO's The Toast of New York is a largely fanciful account of the career of 1870s financier "Jubilee Jim" Fisk. As played by Edward Arnold in his usual "tycoon" mode, Fisk was a likable scoundrel who finagled his way into the upper rungs of Wall Street as much for fun as for profit. The film conveniently ignores Fisk's involvement with the infamous Tweed Ring, and skims over his complicity in 1869's "Black Friday," one of the most disastrous events in American economic history. We are also offered a sanitized version of Fisk's notorious mistress Josie Mansfield, who as played by Frances Farmer is an apple-cheeked lass who regards Fisk only as a loyal friend. Cary Grant is along for the ride as "Nick Boyd," a thinly disguised version of Fisk's actual partner in crime Ned Stokes. Too costly to post a profit, Toast of New York is nonetheless fine non-think entertainment, kept alive by a superb supporting cast ranging from Donald Meek as Daniel Drew and Clarence Kolb as Cornelius Vanderbilt to such bit players as Laurel & Hardy perennial James Finlayson, who plays the inventor of a self-tipping hat!
by Hal Erickson synopsis