(1960) Under intense pressure from Gen Andrew Danvers (Roland Winters) of the Schofield Instruments Corp with a threat to switch suppliers if he doesn't comply with a demand, the president of the Austen Plastics Co in Suffolk, PA, Grant Austen (Dean Jagger), asks his business consultant, Gilmore Clark (Henry Jones), what he could expect to receive if he put the company up for sale before giving instructions to seek out a buyer. From his banker, Will Atherson (Otto Kruger), Grant similarly inquires about the business's market value; Atherson has someone in mind.
In meeting with a prospective buyer with a reputation as a vulture after a fast buck (i.e., he buys companies cheap to turn around for a quick profit), Cash McCall (James Garner) - "I'm a thoroughly vulgar character; I enjoy making money" - Gilmore learns that McCall has a controlling interest in his firm, Corporate Associates; McCall then hires Gil to find out what's wrong with Austen Plastics, since that's usually why companies are put up for sale.
Atherson's buyer also turns out to be McCall, who upon meeting with Grant and his very pretty daughter Lory (Natalie Wood), behaving uncomfortably in Cash's presence, promptly agrees to Grant's asking price of $2 million in cash. Grant is pleased with the ease of the transaction; Cash has been uncharacteristically generous.
As Lory gives him the cold shoulder while driving Cash to the airport, he attempts to apologize ("I'm pursuing you") for an incident in Maine the previous summer, about which her parents know little other than the paintings Lory, an illustrator for a book publisher, has painted of a man in a Robin Hood outfit and her unwillingness to discuss the matter.
Getting her onto his private aircraft, he flies her to a secluded spot in Aurora Valley where he owns a house and can explain: "I couldn't get that girl out of my mind," but "I was too busy to fall in love." In director Joseph Pevney's dramatic film of finance and romance - screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee and Marion Hargrove from Cameron Hawley's novel - Grant Austen wants cash and so does Lory, while her mother, hopeful of her daughter's prospects with Cash, is "Just thinking of Lory's future."
After Gil informs McCall of valuable patents belonging to Austen Plastics (seven years later "Plastics" would be whispered in The Graduate), Cash ("This is getting to be intriguing") goes toe to toe with Gen Danvers, who accuses him of being an unscrupulous, vindictive, thieving pirate. "This whole thing could blow up in your face," warns Gilmore.
Cagey and knowledgeable, confident he's taking into account all the angles, Cash cautions Lory about his instability ("I'm broke one day; I'm rich the next") before suddenly proposing marriage to her: "Everything is falling right into place."
Playing a very big game and changing his style, he unexpectedly discovers a jealous woman, Maude Kennard (Nina Foch), the assistant manager of Hotel Ivanhoe, plotting against him ("Women so smart, they're stupid"), and a lawsuit filed by Austen, which Cash's attorney ("I'm not a moralist. I'm a lawyer"), Winston Conway (E.G. Marshall), explains accuses McCall of insidiously cheating Grant out of a million dollars with spies and hatchet men. "I'm not guilty on a single count," Cash protests, though his associates want him to settle to protect their reputations.
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