Warner Brothers have tried to give a new interpretation to the rather worn bit of adviceâ€””Go West, young man.” This time they say it is not to seek for gold but for one’s soul which becomes tarnished in the money-mad East.
“The World Changes”, now being shown at the Hollywood Theatre, seeks to illustrate what happens to those who leave the land for the temples of Mammon. The hardships of pioneer life satisfy more than the effete civilization of the city. One might be convinced perhaps, if the picture did not indulge in too many situations which characterized motion pictures in their infancy.
The story tells of the Nordholm family from the time they settled in South Dakota in 1852 until the Wall Street crash of 1929. On the soil, the family lived a peaceful and contented life, but that same spirit which led the elder Nordholm to leave the East to break ground in the West, seizes the son, Orin (Paul Muni) and forces him to leave the West to make his success in the city. Up to the time Orin leaves for Chicago, the picture, though reminiscent in parts of “The Covered Wagon”, is compelling because of its sincerity and picturesque quality. But once in the city, Orin becomes the protagonist in a saga of the packing-house industry of Chicago.
The latter half of the film, which seeks to show up the shallowness and snobbery of Orin’s children and grandchildren, is weak and borders more on caricature. His granddaughter has finally obtained the social position of the family who has tried incessantly to rid itself of the odor of the packing house, by becoming engaged to a member of the lesser English nobility. Then came the crash.
What saves “The World Changes” from being altogether futile is the excellent acting of Paul Muni, Mary Astor as his hysterical wife, and Aline MacMahon as his mother, and the competent performances of the rest of the large cast.