The Meanest Man in the World (1923)

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This picture was based on a George M. Cohan stage play. Lawyer Richard Clarke (Bert Lytell) can't seem to find success because he is too soft-hearted. After being told by his friend that he needs to be a lot tougher to make it in business, Clarke resolves to be the "meanest man in the world." When client Hiram Leeds (Carl Stockdale) wants him to collect a debt from a storekeeper or foreclose, the lawyer resolves to do his duty. But it all comes to naught when he discovers that the shopkeeper is the lovely Jane Hudson (played by the lovely Blanche Sweet). It turns out that Leeds wants the property because oil has been discovered on it. So Clarke teams up with Jane to outwit his client and the oil promoters. They get together enough money to finance the drilling of an oil well which gushes just in the nick of time to pay for the property. Need it be added that the pair fall in love? Twenty years later, this picture would be remade as a vehicle for Jack Benny and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson.