Cast & Crew
While on a train bound for River Falls, snobbish socialite Mrs. Vanders and her unruly daughter Elise meet a handsome young Korean war veteran named Hugh. After Hugh casually mentions that he is the son of a railroad man, he bids mother and daughter farewell, prompting Ziggy Moline, the high-powered public relations man hired to shield the family from unfavorable publicity, to warn the women about consorting with strangers. After the train stops at River Falls, Ziggy follows Hugh, whose real name is Hugo Danielchik, the son of Yanusz Danielchik, a poor railroad worker, and impressed by the boy's audacity, suggests that Hugo call him at his hotel. Hugo, who is repulsed by his unrefined immigrant father, rejects the elder Danielchik's entreaties to join him in the rail yards, coldly informing his parents that he has applied to Norgate, an elite college far from River Falls. When Mrs. Danielchik reminds Hugo that he is not the son of a rich man, Hugo expresses contempt for his parents' limited expectations. That night at the hotel, Hugo meets Ziggy, who confides that he, too, is the son of immigrants and was ostracized and discriminated against because of his ethnicity until he anglicized his name. The swarthy Ziggy identifies with the genteel Hugo and suggests that he call him if he is interested in a job. Hugo ignores Ziggy's offer until he receives a letter of rejection from Norgate and is forced to join his father in the rail yard. After a clash with the yard boss, Hugo is fired and contacts Ziggy in New York. Meanwhile, Ziggy chides Elise for her excessive drinking, and suggests she find a nice guy and settle down. Elise counters by challenging Ziggy to find her one. Summoned to New York by Ziggy, Hugo comes home carrying a shiny new suitcase in which to pack his belongings. When his father advises his son to accept who he is, Hugo lashes out that his father is so poor that he cannot even afford to fix his watch. In New York, Ziggy changes Hugo's name to Capt. Hugh Brian-Daniels, fabricates a new identity for him and offers him $200 a week to coddle Elise. Insulted, Hugo rejects the offer but later accepts after an unsuccessful job hunt. Ziggy then tosses Hugo Elise's file to read, and later that evening, Hugo strolls into Elise's favorite exclusive club and approaches her table. When Elise recognizes Hugo from the train, Ziggy explains that Hugo was working undercover as a captain in the intelligence service and then excuses himself. Hugo embarks on a whirlwind romance with Elise, who soon falls in love with him. Ziggy, who considers Hugo his surrogate, becomes furious when he learns that Hugo has become engaged to Elise without first consulting him and warns Hugo that he is only a fabrication that Ziggy has created. When Hugo continues to postpone their marriage, Elise begins to drink heavily again and Hugo comes to Ziggy for advice. At Ziggy's office, Hugo learns that Ziggy has been withholding a telegram notifying him about his father's death. Shaken, Hugo goes to Elise and proposes, but when he informs her that he must leave town for a few days, Elise calls him a phony and tells him never to return. Upon arriving at his father's funeral service, Hugo finds the church packed with Yanusz' friends. His mother shuns Hugo, and resentfully asserts that he will never be a better man than his father. As Hugo boards the train back to New York, the rail boss reproaches him for failing to respect his own father, a man beloved by all. From the dining car, Hugo drunkenly calls the club and tries to make a reservation under the name Hugo Danielchik, but is rebuffed. Soon after, an inebriated Hugo strides into the club and declares that he is Hugo Danielchik. Once sober, Hugo repays Ziggy all the money he has given him and then leaves his office. While crossing the street, Hugo is struck by a car, and soon after, Elise comes to the office in search of Hugo and finds Ziggy rambling incoherently that Hugo never existed. Ziggy then throws Hugo's file on his desk for Elise to examine. Some time later, Hugo awakens in the hospital and finds Elise standing by his bed. After asking if his real name is Danielchik, Elise tells Hugo that she has been to River Falls and gives him his father's watch. Once recovered, Hugo travels with Elise to River Falls, where his mother greets them at the train station. After hugging his mother, Hugo walks past Yanusz' colleagues and proudly displays his father's watch.
Alfred E. Kegerris
Ralph W. Nelson
According to the Variety review, Ride the High Iron was initially filmed for television, but was never broadcast.