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The World Changes (1933)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 25 November 1933 (USA)
An ambitious farmer becomes a pioneer in the meat packing business, finding financial success but private disappointment over the course of many decades.


Mervyn LeRoy


Edward Chodorov (screenplay), Sheridan Gibney (story "America Kneels")


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Muni ... Orin Nordholm Jr.
Aline MacMahon ... Anna Nordholm
Mary Astor ... Virginia 'Ginny' Clafflin Nordholm
Donald Cook ... Richard Nordholm
Jean Muir ... Selma Peterson II / Her Grandaughter Selma II
Guy Kibbee ... James Clafflin
Patricia Ellis ... Natalie Clinton Nordholm
Theodore Newton ... Paul Nordholm
Margaret Lindsay ... Jennifer Clinton Nordholm
Gordon Westcott ... John Nordholm
Alan Dinehart ... Ogden Jarrett
Henry O'Neill ... Orin Nordholm Sr.
Anna Q. Nilsson ... Mrs. Peterson
Arthur Hohl ... Mr. Patten
William Janney ... Orin Nordholm III


A three-generations saga over many decades in which Orin Nordholm Jr. (Paul Muni), an ambitious Dakota farm boy of immigrant parents moves to Chicago and into the meat-packing business where he makes a fortune by inventing the refrigerated-railway-freight car or ice-boxes-on-wheels but is unhappy in his marriage to Virginia Claffin (Mary Astor), a snobbish socialite who is willing to accept his money but not his method of making it. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 November 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Kneels See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The story begins in 1856, at which time Anna Nordholm (Alice MacMahon) appears to be at least 30 years old. By the time the story wraps up, in the early 1930s, this would put her well past 100, a bit of a stretch considering the life expectancy of that era. See more »


Once the story reaches the year 1929, all the women wear 1933 fashions, an unfortunate anachronism, since styles had changed dramatically in those four years, and everything we see them wearing in what is supposed to be 1929 is completely out of tune with the actual styles of that period. See more »


Buffalo Bill Cody: Texas Longhorns are ornery critters.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Title card: Dakota Territory 1856 See more »


Oh, Susanna
Music by Stephen Foster
Played during the opening scene
Also played on piano in the saloon
See more »

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User Reviews

Rags to riches, and misery
24 January 2018 | by marcslopeSee all my reviews

Mervyn LeRoy was working pretty frantically in 1933, turning out five big features for Warner Brothers, and this social history-drama was as far from its LeRoy predecessor "Gold Diggers of 1933" as you can imagine. It's a rags-to-riches epic of Orin Nordholm (Henry O'Neill) and his wife (the always superb Aline MacMahon), founding a town in Dakota territory in 1856 and watching their namesake son (Paul Muni) become a meat tycoon with Guy Kibbee, marrying Kibbee's difficult and pretentious daughter Mary Astor, and raising a family of ingrates and opportunists. It's lavish, with big montages (the market frenzy is especially well done) and a big Warners cast, and there are some wonderful scenes--loved Custer informing Orinville in 1865 that the war is over, and MacMahon asking, "What war?" But the Muni-Astor love story (he unwisely abandons Jean Muir for her) is unconvincing, with a love-at-first-sight we don't buy (Paul Muni was many things, but sexy was not one of them), and the parade of greedy, unprincipled relatives--Donald Cook, Margaret Lindsay, Alan Mowbray--somewhat monotonous. Muni's fine, with some impressive aging makeup, and Astor, while playing a character we don't quite believe, never gave a bad performance. It's consistently entertaining and sprawling, and I love this 1930s genre of multigenerational American epics, but there are neater entries than this one.

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