Rag Man, The (1925)
Linda Martinez, winner of TCM's 4th Annual Young Composers Competition provided the brand new score for this silent film starring Jackie Coogan, the title character ... I guess it should be called "the Rag Boy";-)
Jackie Coogan plays Timothy Kelly, an orphan that's just escaped from a burning orphanage, and thought to be dead. He's a smart little kid who ends up sleeping the night in a junk man's cart, and fashioning him self some clothes from it the next morning. When the owner Max Ginsberg (Max Davidson) catches him in the back, he kicks him out and gets his horse Dynamite to pull away. The boy sees that Max has dropped his money purse, so he picks it up and chases Max down to return it. Max is so happy with the boy's honesty, that he tries to give him a nickel. But Timothy would rather have a job and his pleading wins him one. They meet an apple lady and friend of Max's named Mrs. Malloy (Lydia Yeamans Titus).
Timothy is so endearing and tries so hard that Max ends up letting him live with he and Dynamite in his ramshackle place. Timothy learns Max's business by example. Max also tells the boy a story about how, before he became a junk dealer, he had invented something worth a lot of money. However, the invention was stolen by some crooked lawyers that Max had, thus far, failed to track down. Now, Max is afflicted with rheumatism and Timothy talks him into letting him take Dynamite out one day to collect junk in the cart. He takes Max's last $4 to accomplish the task.
Not knowing any better, Timothy takes the junk cart down 5th Avenue and is so charming, and believable as a young businessman, that a wealthy woman gives him several items of clothing for 15 cents. He asks another boy on the street if he has any bottles to sell, to which he responds "yeah, a whole cellar full". The boy takes Timothy to the wine cellar where Timothy asks "how much?". Not knowing any better, the "rich" boy says "1 cent each" and Timothy, also not knowing any better, says "I'll take 25 cents worth, but I need them empty". So the two boys poor out the wine and fill the cart. When Timothy returns, he has impressed Max, who allows the boy to put a sign on the horse cart indicating they're partners.
*** SPOILERS ***
Ginsberg's lawyer Richard Scott (William Conklin) comes to their place and says that he's still trying to track down the crooked lawyers, Bishop (Robert Edeson) & Winkler, who stole his patent. Timothy overhears the conversation and realizes that he'd read a letter that was in the pocket of some pants he got on 5th Avenue which contained those names. Also, while Max is bragging to his lawyer about the great little partner he's got, Scott realizes that the wine bottles were from his house. Timothy goes to retrieve the letter, but appears to have burned it up with the trash. However, he decides to go back to the 5th Avenue address to ask Bishop, actually Bernard, for Max's money. He pleads that Max is sick and has nothing while "you have everything". But upon learning that the boy doesn't have the evidence (the letter), the lawyer refuses, but his wife, who had given Timothy the clothes in the first place, was listening in the other room.
Timothy returns to Max and, without revealing what he had just tried to do, tells him that he is NOT a good businessman after all, so he's breaking up the partnership and leaving. A sad scene, Max obviously not understanding nor wanting this boy he's come to love to leave. As Timothy opens the door to depart, Bishop is there. He's had second thoughts. He wants to give Max his share, $200,000, of the patent profits. The boy (and probably his wife) is the reason. During the discussion, Timothy finds that he hadn't burned up the letter after all, and decides to keep it in case Bishop changes his mind. The next and final scene opens at a well to do country club where Timothy and Max are said to be the biggest antique dealers in town as they play golf.