On a street corner in San Francisco, Angel of Charity Priscilla Ames is leading a chorus of children singing for toys for charity outside of Jeremiah Ratch's office. Jim and Artie pull up in a wagon, and Jim goes over to talk with Priscilla. The agent buys a toy for each of the boys, and asks for a smile from Priscilla in return. Priscilla leads the boys in another chorus, and Jim and Artie go into Jeremiah's office. The clerk tells them that Jeremiah isn't available because he's at the nearby bakery fighting for day-old bread.
Across the street, the boys throw garbage at Jeremiah. Artie wonders how they're going to collect $5 from Jeremiah, while Priscilla apologizes to Jeremiah for the boys' behavior. One "boy" offers Jeremiah a wind-up toy of soldiers beating a drum for nothing. Jeremiah grabs it when he realizes that it's free and tells the boy that giving things away is the roar to ruination. Once Jeremiah goes inside, Priscilla ushers the boys away. The gift-giving boy, Dr. Loveless, smokes a cigar and chuckles.
Inside, Jeremiah looks at his free toy in satisfaction and boasts that it's 100% clear profit. Jim says that they're there to collect $5 million and introduces himself and Artie. Jeremiah demands evidence that they're there from the governor, and Artie presents the governor's letter. When Jim tells him to stop playing games, Jeremiah insists that it's blackmail and claims that $5 million is all that he has. He figures that he'll have a bank with the governor's help, and he'll be loved and respectable. Jeremiah dismisses his neighbors as scum, including the clerk.
Jeremiah has the agents turn around and close their eyes, and once they do Jeremiah takes the money out of a covered safe. He hands the bag with it over, and Artie goes out to check the street. While Jim checks the money, Jeremiah tells the clerk to work every minute that he's gone. Jeremiah asks Jim if he can protect him, while the toy marches up the counter toward them... and explodes. Loveless and his gigantic assistant, Voltaire, are nearby watching.
Artie runs back into the lender's shop and the neighbors arrive to help clear away the debris. They help a stunned Jim out, and Priscilla suggests that they take him to her place to recuperate. Loveless runs out past Artie with the bag of money, and Artie realizes who he is. He chases Loveless into an alley, and Voltaire steps out and knocks Artie unconscious. Voltaire brings Loveless out, and Loveless says that Jim needs to be taught a lesson as well just like everyone in the state who thinks California belongs to them.
Priscilla tends to Jim, and he wakes up to see her face. She explains where Jim is and what happened, and says that they couldn't find Jeremiah or the money. They kiss and Priscilla then says that Jim shouldn't have done that because it makes her feel strange. They talk about how Priscilla's parents kissed her, but kissing Jim was different. Jim tells her that it's supposed to be different, and she says that her grandfather didn't tell her because all he did was make toys.
Governor Lewis arrives and thanks Priscilla for helping Jim. Lewis reports that they haven't found the money and Jim excuses himself to go with the governor. Outside, Lewis says that they have to raise $10 million in the next few days or California will go bankrupt. Jim notes that the President's advisors somewhat deliberately bankrupted the state, threatening the entire nation. Lewis is going to raise the money by selling respectability to people with dubious reputations like Jeremiah, John Crane, and Bessie Bowen. They're willing to buy respectability at $5 million each, and Jim warns that they could steal Lewis blind. Lewis figures they need to do it to buy time until Jim discovers who is responsible.
Artie staggers over and tells Jim and Lewis what happened. Jim warns Lewis that Loveless is involved, and they'd better get to Crane and Bessie before Loveless does.
In her dressing room, Priscilla is experimenting with two dolls kissing. Voltaire winds up a toy and sends it in through the door, and it advances on Priscilla. Priscilla picks up the toy and admires it, and thanks Voltaire for it when he comes in. Voltaire takes Priscilla to the shop below where Loveless and Antoinette are riding on a miniature carousel and singing. Priscilla thanks Loveless for making the toy, and he says that he only invented her grandfather's special toys. She says that she met a handsome young man, and Loveless refuses to hear it.
Once the carousel stops, Voltaire touches it and Loveless berates him. Antoinette leads Voltaire away, and Priscilla says that she can't imagine Loveless being unkind. He says that traitors should be thrown to the crocodiles, particularly Jim, and says that Jim is an evil man. Loveless then shows Priscilla his latest invention: an electrified train. He throws a switch and it starts up, and when he throws another switch it explodes. Loveless says that the nicest toys are the ones that go "bang", and explains that he's made a set of them for a man who loves trains: Crane.
At home, Crane is playing with a train set while a team of his engineers look on. Jim knocks at the front door, and Crane sends one of his men to throw him out. Jim punches the man through the peep door and breaks in, and fights more of the "engineers" that come out. The agent knocks them out and goes into the train room, says Lewis sent him, and tells his last man Bailey to throw the switch in two minutes. Jim shuts off the train and says that it may be dangerous like the one that killed Jeremiah. Crane gets Jim a drink and says that Lewis is going to give him a train franchise once he buys the bonds. Jim notes that Crane's bridges have a tendency to collapse. A train comes out on a spur from another room and it explodes.
Artie disguises himself as an opera baritone and goes to Bessie's club. The hostess refuses to let him see Bessie upstairs in her office, and Artie sings to prove his credentials. Bessie comes out and is charmed by Artie's singing, and says that he's come from Italy to bring culture to San Francisco. She invites him up to her boudoir filled with women and Bessie insists that she's interested in music. Bessie was going to buy the bonds to show how interested she was, but certain ladies in the town don't think she should. Artie dismisses them as snobs and promises that the two of them will show them. He offers to escort her to the Governor's Ball, and Bessie agrees to give Lewis the money.
As Bessie goes to get dressed, she shows Artie her new gramophone and says that it came the day before from an unknown admirer. She turns it on and it plays music, and another woman, Flo, says that a snowglobe came with the gramophone. It and the gramophone emit smoke, and Artie tosses the snowglobe out the window. Bessie figures Artie is responsible and orders him out, and says that she can't change and Loveless will kill her if she does. The gramophone starts sparking and Artie gets Bessie out as it explodes.
Jim wakes up to find Priscilla tending to him. He grabs her and why she's always around. Loveless speaks over an intercom, greeting Jim, and when Jim goes to the door, a trapdoor opens and drops him down a chute into the shop where Loveless and Voltaire are waiting.
Voltaire drags Jim to his feet, and Jim breaks free. Loveless snares Jim's feet with bolos so Voltaire can pin him, and Priscilla comes in and asks why Jim is making trouble for Loveless. Jim says that Loveless has killed two people and been sentenced to prison before. Priscilla doesn't believe him, and Loveless gives her a note to deliver to Lewis. Once she leaves, Loveless tells Jim that he's going to prove to him that he's round.
Artie asks Bessie where they can find Loveless, but Bessie says that Loveless will kill both of them if she tells. Bessie bemoans how being good almost got her blown up, but Artie persuades her in return for speaking Italian.
Loveless has Voltaire take Jim to a roly-poly clown doll and says that he's going to kill Lewis because he's upsetting Loveless' plans for taking over California. Loveless insists that he captured Jeremiah and Crane, and has them tied up in another room. Once they promise to vote for Loveless when he runs for governor, he'll let them free. Loveless explains that when Lewis comes in response to the note supposedly from Jim, a toy cannon will fire darts once Loveless pulls the lanyard. Voltaire knocks Jim out and puts him in the doll, locks it shut, and gives it a kick before leaving with Loveless.
Later, Bessie brings Artie to the shop and they break in through a window. They find a room with Jeremiah and Crane inside, bandaged up and in suspension. Bessie goes to get a knife to free them and screams, then runs back and says that something whistled at her. Realizing who it is, Artie goes out frees Jim. Bessie stands guard at the window and says that someone is coming, and Loveless and three of his thugs come in. Loveless tells the thugs to drop Jim and the governor into the bay once they're five miles out.
Lewis arrives in a carriage and Loveless, hearing him, tells everyone to hide. Before they do, Loveless aims the cannon at the door. Unseen, Jim burns through the doll's locks with acid. As Lewis comes in, Jim breaks free and wheels a giant circus barrel in front of the governor, blocking the darts as Loveless fires the cannon. Artie knocks out the thug covering him, then gets Lewis to cover as Jim takes on the thugs. His partner dumps a barrel of marbles down a ramp, tripping them, and Bessie throws stuffed animals at them as Loveless grabs a sword and holds Jim and Artie at bay. He then grabs a toboggan and slides down the ramp and out the door. Voltaire is waiting outside and they both escape in a waiting carriage.
Once the police arrive, Artie notifies the cavalry to go after the carriage. Jim figures that they've made good their escape, and Priscilla says that Loveless seemed like a nice man. Jeremiah and Crane come in and Jeremiah complains that the money was lost because of incompetence and he won't be held responsible. Crane promises to get everyone in the city to contribute, and Lewis congratulates Jim on saving California. Priscilla invites Jim to wind her up again, and they kiss as Artie starts up the carousel for them to ride on.
Written by Gadfly on Dec 24, 2019