Hired Man (1918)

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The fine performances of Charles Ray in pictures such as this one got him permanently but unfortunately stereotyped as a country bumpkin. Here, he is Ezry Hollins, hired man to farmer Caleb Endicott (Charles K. French). Ezry is an ambitious young man, and he's saving up to go to agricultural school, which wins him the admiration of Endicott's daughter, Ruth (Doris Lee). But just when he's about to go off with his tuition, he discovers that Endicott's son, Walter (Gilbert Gordon) has embezzled funds from the bank where he works. So Ezry saves Walter from disgrace by handing over his savings and returning to the farm. Then, when Stuart Morley, a suitor of Ruth's (Carl Ullman), sees her teaching Ezry some dance steps, he gives Endicott a highly distorted account of what he saw and Ezry is fired. But after Ezry has packed and is leaving the farm for the last time, he sees smoke coming from the house. Walter, who had arrived home very late, accidentally set a fire. Ezry gets the family up and saves Walter, who admits to his wrongdoing at the bank. As a result, Ezry is welcomed back into the fold.