Bart and Bret are riding a train and playing cards, and Jack Vandergelt looks on. They discuss a big game in Denver, and Jack offers Bret a light. He whispers that Bart is cheating Bret, and Bret isn't surprised. Bart warns Bret that he can't get into the hotel using his own name, and would have to be a Vanderbilt or Vandergelt. The train pulls into Denver, and Bart wishes Bret luck before leaving. Jack asks how Bret is going to get in, and bets him a hundred dollars that if they switch names, he can get into the hotel. When Bret wonders what's so impressive about Jack's name, Jack says that his last name is Vandergelt.
Later at the hotel casino, Bret signs in using Jack's name as Jack looks on. The desk clerk immediately brightens when he sees the Vandergelt name, getting Bret a corner suite. Jack goes up to the desk next and signs in with Bret's name, and the desk clerk tells him that they have nothing for him. Bret steps in, saying that "Bret" is with him, and the desk clerk changes his tune.
Once they're alone in the suite, Jack pays off on the bet and tells Bret that he wants to stay there, he'll have to continue pretending to be Jack. Bret realizes that Jack plans to use him, and Jack cheerfully admits that he is. He offers Bret a $1,000 with another $1,000 per week as well as his hotel bill. Jack assures Bret that no one there knows him and Bret should be able to handle anyone who does recognize him. Bret takes the money, and Jack tells him that if there's any mail for him it's from his father, Archibald Vandergelt, checking up on them. Jack claims that he's just there to relax, and Bret carefully counts the money.
Later, Bret goes to the casino and Celia Malaver comes over and says that they met in Philadelphia when "Jack" was a boy. She offers to take Bret along to meet some nice young ladies, and leads him out.
On the hotel veranda, Lydia Lynley is sitting and Lucius Bensen suggests that they could go far together. Celia brings Bret out and introduces him. Lydia draws back when she hears "Jack Vendergelt", and Lucius says that he and "Jack" haven't met. As Lucius talks about society and breeding, Jack sits down nearby with a book. Lydia notices Jack nodding at him, and says that it's refreshing seeing a high-society loafer reading a book. Bret dismisses Jack as "Maverick something" and says that he's barely humanity, but Lydia smiles at Jack anyway.
Later in their suite, Lydia's maid Lucy reads Wuthering Heights out loud. Celia comes in and tells her niece Lydia that her behavior toward Lucius and "Jack" is rude. Lydia figures that Lucius is only interested in her because of her money and figures the $7 million she has is enough.
In Bret's suite, Jack refers Wuthering Heights to Bret to read. He talks about Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities dying for love, and Bret wonders if he's supposed to die for $1,000 a week. A bellboy arrives to tell Bret that the casino is open, and Bret says that he saw Lydia first and likes her. Jack tells him that he saw Lydia months ago and he's there to meet her. He wants her to like him for himself, not his money, and tells Bret to try and sweep Lydia off her feet. Jack figures Bret doesn't have a chance with her, and the more she sees of Bret, the better Jack will look to her.
Later, Lydia is walking the grounds with a book. Three blue bloods hit on her, and she turns them down. Jack comes over and when one of the men, Livingston, insults Jack, Jack punches him and says that his money doesn't let him insult Lydia. He puts on a Texas accent and introduces himself to Lydia as "Bret", and offers to see her home. Lydia accepts and they walk off arm in arm.
A man approaches Bret as he comes down and says that Bret isn't Jack. He explains that he was classmates with Jack, and Bret tells him that he is Jack and the classmate hasn't changed a bit. The man looks nervous, and the bellboy tells Bret that Jack is too busy with Lydia to return Bret's messages.
Archibald enters the lobby with his assistants and the desk clerk quickly summons bellboys to assist. Bret ducks out of sight, tells an assistant to have Jack meet him that night, and goes to see Celia. The bellboy tells Bret that his "father" wants to see him.
Later, Archibald meets with Celia. He tells the woman that he's investigated Lydia's pedigree and wants to marry her off to Jack, and Celia quickly agrees.
Bret approaches Jack when he comes in with Lydia, and once Lydia leaves Bret says that Archibald is there and wants to see "Jack". Jack figures that he'd better see his father, and Bret tells him to take care. As they go their separate ways, Lucius and the classmate listen from behind a drape.
Jack goes to Archibald's suite and Archibald says that he's been thinking about Jacks' future. The younger man smugly says that he bought a steamship line out from under Archibald, and Archibald feigns enthusiasm. He says that he wants to see Jack independent and has found the woman for Jack to marry. Jack tells her that he'll find his own wife, noting that all the ones Archibald has found for him are abominable. Archibald disowns him on the spot and orders him out, and Jack leaves. Once he does, an assistant comes in and Archibald tells him to make sure Jack sees Lydia at supper.
The assistant soon passes the message on to Jack as Bret listens. Jack puts on a show of giving in, and once the assistant leaves, Jack sends Bret to have supper with Lydia since she's expecting "Jack". Bret wonders what happens if Lydia accepts his proposal, and Jack tells him that they'd all be disappointed.
At supper, Lydia figures that Archibald sent "Jack" and isn't interested in him. She mockingly quotes a proposal to "Jack", and then turns him down. Lydia talks about "Bret"'s imagination and courage, and glowingly talks about A Tale of Two Cities and how it represents life and reality. She says that she wants a man with a soul, not a man with money, and figures that she's found one.
Later, Bret tells Jack what Lydia said. Jack figures he can steam the "nonsense" out of Lydia's head by having her slave over a hot stove, and Jack checks himself in the mirror while ignoring Bret's advice.
On the veranda, Lucius calls a passing Livingston over and says that the cotillion set has a membership opening up. Livingston asks if there's anything he can do for him, and Lucius notes that he heard Livingston tried to flirt with Lydia and got knocked down. Lucius is offended, and when he invites Livingston to let him in on the joke, Livingston whispers in his ear.
Jack visits Archibald and says that his father is in the twilight of his life, and he's given him nothing. He explains that he's ready to marry Lydia, and Archibald undisowns him on the spot. Jack suggests that love will come together, and Archibald dismisses him as gutless. He angrily says that he wants Jack to stand on his own two feet, alone or married.
Later outside, Bret waits for the casino to open. Jack suggests that he think about love and life, and Bret warns that Jack can't court girls Unimpressed, Jack calculates how he and Lydia are going to elope. Lydia joins them and asks Bret to pick her up for a ride, and dismissively addresses Jack by his real name, slapping him, before walking off after handing Jack a letter. The letter is from "a friend" and the contents reveal that "Bret" is Jack.
Archibald tells Celia what Bret and Jack have done, and asks why she approached Bret as Jack. Celia dismisses Lydia as a wooly-headed child who wants to marry someone poor but honest. Archibald tells her that Lydia slapped Jack, and Celia says that Bret, Jack, and Lydia have all disappeared.
Bret and Lydia ride to Lovers' Leap and she says that it's one of the places Jack led her to. The gambler suggests that she wants to be there with Jack, noting that she's being hard on him, and says that Jack thinks a lot of Lydia. Lydia accuses Jack of being underhanded, and Bret says that he's no-good as well. She's impressed that Bret sacrificed his happiness for Jack, and says that all the time she was in love with Bret. Bret tells her that he doesn't deserve her, but Lydia suggests that they have a quiet wedding.
Back at his suite, Bret forges a letter saying that Bret is a drunkard and a debtor. He figures that Lydia would like that and tosses the letter in the wastebasket.
Lucius goes to Lydia's suite and Lucy tells him that Lydia is marrying the real Bret.
Bret meets with Archibald and asks if it bothers him that Jack is moping around. Archibald suggests that they bring in someone more unattractive than Bret but Lydia would just fall in love with him. Bret suggests that "Buckley" can supply him with a wife and three children, and Archibald notes that Lydia would reject Bret and Jack and marry Lucius. Archibald suggests that Bret disappear, making him look like a scoundrel and throw Jack into Lydia's arms. Bret accepts and Archibald pays him several hundred dollars for "breakfast".
Later that night, Lucius and Livingston approach Bret in the lobby and Lucius slaps Bret in the face, challenging him to a duel. Bret takes the glove and slaps Lucius back, and goes to his suite. Later, Livingston drinks with Jack at the bar. Jack says that Bret is a better man than him because Bret played it square while Jack was devious. He mentions that Lucius challenged Bret to a girl because Lucius hoped to marry Lydia. When Livingston mentions Jack's deception, Jack realizes that Livingston told Lucius about the ruse. Smiling, Jack tells Livingston to get up early, then take a glove to Lucius to indicate he's accepting the duel challenge.
The next morning at 6 am, Jack and Lucius meet for their duel at the picnic grounds. When Lucy comes by, Jack asks her to tell Lydia the "far far better" line from Dickens.
Bret packs to leave on the morning train, leaving Jack a letter apologizing for him running out on Jack and Lydia. He finds a letter from Jack saying that he's going to duel with Lucius, and Bret is the better man. Bret runs to the picnic grounds.
Lucy tells Lydia that Jack was going to the picnic grounds and passes on the quote. Lydia recognizes the quote, gasps, dresses, and runs out.
Jack and Lucius take their pistols, and the two men pace off. Bret arrives in time to hear two gunshots. Lucius and Livingston go past in their carriage, and Bret rides on to find Jack with a bullet wound in the shoulder. Jack says that it was nothing, and the doctor tells him that he'll never be able to use his coat again and Jack is fine. Lydia rides up, accuses Bret of letting Jack go through with the duel, and runs to Jack. Archibald is with them, and Lydia begs Jack not to die. Jack feigns dying and Lydia says that she's always loved him. She promises to be a good wife and insists that she marry Jack even if he was the richest man in the world. Bet and Archibald look on as Jack promises to live for her, and smile smugly.
Later at the hotel, the manager tells Bret that he can't get into the casino unless he's rich. Bart arrives as "Earl of Bartley" and the manager eagerly escorts him into the casino, while Bret looks dismayed and walks off.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 17, 2019