Role in the film
Fagin is first seen being introduced to young Oliver Twist by one of his best boy thieves, Jack Dawkins, also known as The Artful Dodger, who had him brought back at their place in a warehouse where they live. Seeing as to what a polite chap Oliver certainly is, Fagin takes a sudden liking to him.
When Fagin notices him hiding his golden locket in his pocket, which could possibly help him find his lost family, Fagin decides to take it and keep it for himself along with the rest of his "treasures" while stating to Oliver that he and the other boys are now his family. Then, Fagin generously and kindly has his boys dress Oliver up in proper clothing and feed him proper meals for breakfast.
Later, an infamous thief and murderer named Bill Sikes enters Fagin's warehouse with his girlfriend, Nancy and his dog, Bull's Eye to discuss business with him and to get paid for a job he did last Sunday (probably a theft or a murder). However, Fagin has been known to cheat Sikes for years and make excuses for not paying him, which later leads to Sikes threatening him with his life unless he gets paid, which Fagin does without further hesitation. Then, he welcomes Nancy and introduces her to Oliver, whom she takes a sudden liking to. Sikes calls for her to attend further business with Fagin. So, Fagin tells his thieving boys to get outside and do their jobs; not before instructing Dodger to keep an eye on Oliver and make sure nothing happens to him.
At night, Oliver catches Fagin admiring his little treasures, which he keeps hidden in a box. Fagin threatens Oliver if he tells anyone about the treasure box but later apologizes to him for his threats and harsh behavior towards him and tells him to get some sleep not before Oliver asks him if his locket is in there, which Fagin confirms.
In the morning, while Dodger and the boys are out doing their jobs, Oliver watches as Fagin reluctantly gives Nancy whatever riches she needs to satisfy Sikes after she serves Oliver some tea. After Nancy leaves, Fagin gives Oliver a pick pocketing lesson. Then, Fagin declares him an apprentice after passing the test and sending him out to join the rest of the boys.
The next day, Fagin declares it the day Oliver is sent out to pick his first pocket as Dodger orchestrates the plan even after Oliver recites the golden rules of thievery perfectly; much to his joy.
However, Oliver's theft is thwarted when a young lady named Rose Maylie catches him attempting to steal a watch from her old Uncle Horace Brownlow, who is buying a book. Though Dodger manages to steal it afterwards, Oliver is one accused and gets caught by the police. This incident angers Fagin, who berates Dodger and which reminds him of the time when one of his boys, Jimmy got caught and peached on them, thus, causing them to move their lodgings and go underground for months. Nevertheless, Dodger believes Oliver is special and not likely to rat them out; much to Fagin's doubts. When Fagin asks Dodger where they took him, he learns that he's been taken to the "institution for higher learning", so, he quickly and angrily sends Dodger out to find out what happened to him.
After Dodger learns that Oliver was bailed by Rose and her uncle, taken to their home on Governor's Square, and didn't peach on them, Sikes gets very upset and worried thinking that Oliver might betray them and have them sentenced to death even if Nancy tries to calm him down by telling him to let Oliver live a new life with the people who bailed him out and took him in their home. His complaints lead to an argument between him, Fagin, Nancy, and Dodger since they know that Oliver is not the kind of boy to turn traitor on them. Then, Sikes threatens to hurt Dodger for letting Oliver get caught in the first place. After that, all four (even the reluctant Nancy and Dodger) agree to get Oliver back just in case he peaches on them.
The next morning, Fagin sends Dodger and his boys to find and follow Oliver heading for Barkley Square on the West end. When one of the boys inform Fagin, he sends one of his other boys to inform Sikes to carry on with the plan. After Sikes, with Nancy's reluctant help and without Dodger's cooperation due to hesitation, kidnaps and brings Oliver back to their place, the boys start stealing a few things from him while Fagin takes 5 pounds from him, which leads to a small fight between him and Sikes over who should keep the money and the books Oliver was intending to pay for (which Bill Sikes coldly throws into the fire) for Mr. Brownlow. Then, Fagin learns from Oliver that Mr. Brownlow is rich, thus, coming up with a plan to steal from him.
After Sikes scolds Dodger for hesitating during the kidnapping, Fagin asks Oliver what he told the rich people to see whether he peached to them or not, about their whereabouts, what names he may have mentioned to them, and about Fagin himself. But Oliver simply states that he kindly kept everything a secret and described Fagin as "a kind, old man who took him in and was nice to him," thus, proving Dodger's theory about Oliver correct. Though satisfied with the results, Fagin still refuses to give Oliver the money back since he knows Mr. Brownlow will think he stole it from him; simply stating Oliver's got to "start his reputation sometime" but Oliver vows to prove he didn't steal it "if it's the last thing he does." Fagin playfully mocks Oliver about this; thinking he can prove it by giving his word and that nobody would want Oliver other than himself. Then, Nancy comes to his defense but to no avail.