Charles Chaplin wrote, directed, and composed the music for this comedy about a tramp who raises a baby until his mother reclaims him.
A mother (Edna Purviance) leaves a charity hospital with a baby, which she puts in a fancy car. Two men steal the car; they hear the baby cry and leave the child in an alley. The tramp (Charles Chaplin) finds the child and tries to give him to a woman with a baby carriage; but she makes him take the child back. The tramp reads a note asking that the child be taken care of. So the tramp takes him home. The mother asks people what happened to the car. The tramp feeds the baby with a coffee pot.
Five years later the kid (Jack Coogan) and the tramp work the streets. The kid breaks windows, and the tramp sells glass. A policeman (Tom Wilson) sees the tramp replacing glass and the kid walking with him. The tramp jokes with a woman who is the policeman's wife, and he chases the tramp. Professor Guido tells the mother that she is a success. She gives to children and holds a baby while the kid sits near her.
The kid cooks pancakes for the tramp, and they have breakfast. The kid fights another boy, and the tramp coaches him. The other boy's brother is a bully (Charles Reisner), who threatens the tramp and tries to hit him. The mother stops him and makes them shake hands. The tramp hits the bully and keeps ducking his punches.
The kid is ill, and a physician (Jules Hanft) examines him. He asks the tramp if he is the father, and the tramp shows him the note. Two men from the County Orphanage Asylum come and try to take the kid. The tramp resists, but the policeman overcomes him and chases him across roofs. The tramp jumps into the truck to get the kid.
The physician shows the note to the mother. The tramp goes to a flophouse, and the kid sneaks in; but the tramp has to pay for him too. The night shelter keeper (Henry Bergman) reads of a $1,000 reward for the child and takes the kid. The tramp looks for the kid.
At dawn the mother comes to the police station for the kid. The tramp is locked out, sits on the step, falls asleep, and dreams of angels dancing. The tramp has wings too and flies. A devil tells a flirtatious angel (Lita Grey) to vamp the tramp. Her boyfriend gets jealous and hits the tramp, who flees the policeman. The policeman wakes up the tramp and takes him to the mother and the kid.
This heart-warming comedy shows how even miserable circumstances
can be overcome when human love is present.