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A Manhattan Melodrama
lugonian31 March 2006
CHANGE OF HEART (Fox, 1934), directed by John G. Blystone, reunites the ever popular love team of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell for the 12th and final time. Their union, which began with the silent romance story of SEVENTH HEAVEN (1927), expanded successfully for its time through the sound era in an attempt to recapture the magic of their initial pairing. Throughout those seven years and ten additional romancers (one as guest stars in an early musical), their efforts ranged from good to satisfactory, with popularity solely due to the loyalty of their audiences. With each passing year, tastes change in favor for better constructed stories and newcomers on the rise. By 1934, Gaynor and Farrell were on the wane, while the supporting players of James Dunn and Ginger Rogers have juicer roles, especially Rogers, cast against type, as the selfish girl who really doesn't know what she wants in life, thus, jeopardizing her friendship to get what she wants at all cost.

The story linked with CHANGE OF HEART has nothing to do with medical students performing heart transplants, but the focus on two couples just graduating from a California college and leaving their roots to fulfill their life's ambition in New York City: Catherine Furness (Janet Gaynor), an orphan, yearns to be a writer. The only luck she has is obtaining employment at a salvage shop making clothes for orphaned babies under the supervision and care of Harriet Hawkins (Beryl Mercer); Chris Thring (Charles Farrell), wants to be an lawyer; Mac McGowan (James Dunn), a radio crooner like Rudy Vallee; and Madge Roundtree (Ginger Rogers), a Broadway actress. In true soap-opera tradition, Mac loves Catherine who secretly loves Chris, who loves Madge, who gives up Chris to move back to California, becoming a "companion" to wealthy producer Howard Jackson (Kenneth Thomson), in order to advance her acting career. Despondent, Chris becomes ill with high fever, leaving Catherine to nurse him back to health. After they marry, Madge, realizing the error of her ways, returns to New York to reclaim Chris, regardless of how Catherine might feel about it.

During the 1960s and early 70s, TV Guide magazine used to label this version of CHANGE OF HEART in its schedule. Quite confusing since THE HIT PARADE OF 1943 (Republic) starring John Carroll and Susan Hayward has been retitled CHANGE OF HEART (taken from a hit song from that movie) for television. In Leonard Maltin's earlier edition to his "Movies on TV" book published in the 1980s, he critiques CHANGE OF HEART with a "BOMB" rating, later eliminating his review from subsequent editions. While this can be labeled a companion piece of the much better GENTLEMAN ARE BORN (Warners, 1934) starring Franchot Tone and Jean Muir, having very much the same theme, CHANGE OF HEART does have its flaws, such as accepting these slightly older principal players as college graduates; Dunn's obnoxious personality (which he is supposed to be anyway); Rogers in an unsympathetic role; extensive scene involving Gaynor nursing the bedridden Farrell back to health, each reciting some sappy dialog while she gives him a shave; or Gaynor speaking out her emotions through facial gestures as she did in her silent movies, but on the whole, it's really not that bad.

What makes CHANGE OF HEART even more worthy of recommendation for film buffs is the assortment of familiar actors, whether receiving screen credit for their work or not, in smaller roles, including James Gleason as a Coney Island vendor; silent screen's Mary Carr with Jane Darwell each playing mothers during the opening graduation sequence; Gustav Von Seyffertitz as the kindly doctor; Mischa Auer as a party guest; Dick (billed as Nick) Foran taking time to sing, "Who Cares?"; and of course, Shirley Temple. Temple's performance in circulating prints that show on either Fox Movie Channel or Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: August 12, 2016) comes as a bitter disappointment for Temple fans due to the fact that she's hardly in the movie at all. She's actually in for a fraction of a second on the TWA airliner as a little girl who's given a paper airplane. While billed as Shirley during the closing cast listing, chances are that her scene(s) and spoken dialog were cut, an severe oversight from the film editor who didn't have the foresight this child was to become one of Hollywood's biggest/littlest legendary stars.

For all it's worth, CHANGE OF HEART is very nostalgic in the way it presents itself: Imagine taking an airplane ride from California to New York in just 15 hours; the cost of 5 cents for the use of a public pay phone; earning $70 a week or paying $30 a month for an apartment. It also succeeds in recapturing New York City the way it was during the Depression era 1930s through its use of montage footage. These reflections of the times gone by makes CHANGE OF HEART, a rarely seen item from the old Fox Studio vaults, a worthy time capsule piece. (***)
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very sweet movie
blanche-28 July 2009
Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, James Dunn, and Ginger Rogers all experience a "Change of Heart" in this 1934 film about college graduates moving to New York City to "make it." It's the last of 12 pairings of Gaynor and Farrell.

I love old films because of what they tell us about the past - you could read it in a history book, but somehow, it's not the same. It took FIFTEEN HOURS to fly coast to coast in 1934. And I complain that it takes five now. Outrageous. If you look really fast when they're on the plane, you'll see Shirley Temple getting a paper airplane. Those curls are unmistakable.

Gaynor is in love with Farrell, Farrell is in love with Rogers, Dunn is in love with Gaynor. Rogers is a golddigger and takes off early on to be with rich and important people who can further her acting career. You can guess all of the rest.

Rogers is beautiful and vivacious in her role, Gaynor is sweet and likable, Dunn is charming and cuddly, and Farrell is mysterious and handsome. It's really a lovely movie with an attractive cast that captures the excitement of young people starting out in the big city.
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The Last Pairing of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell
drednm2 January 2006
Change of Heart is the last of 12 films Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell starred in together. From the late silent period til this 1934 film, they were among the most popular of screen teams. Here they play college graduates aspiring to make it in New York City along with pals Ginger Rogers and James Dunn.

Pleasant story of ambition and love among the young set. The film also boasts some solid supporting players, including Jane Darwell, Beryl Mercer (excellent as the salvage lady), Mischa Auer, Dick Foran (billed as Nick?), Irene Franklin, Lillian Harmer, Bess Flowers, Gustav von Seyffertitz, Nella Walker, Mary Carr, Mary Gordon, Shirley Temple (on the plane) and James Gleason.

This was one of Rogers' last supporting parts (same year she became a star in Flying Down to Rio). She plays (she's excellent) the selfish Madge who marries a rich man rather than stick with the group and find work. This is probably Rogers' most unsympathetic role. Dunn is a bit much as the Irish crooner. Farrell plays the lovesick goon, and Gaynor (one of the most sympathetic stars of the 30s) plays the fiery redhead who keeps everything going.

Nice film with a good view of New York City in 1934.
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I'll Take New York!!!
kidboots4 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
By 1934 Janet Gaynor's popularity at the box office was beginning to wane so Fox reasoned - why not team her with Charles Farrell again for "Change of Heart"? Once again she played the dewy eyed orphan, this time a college graduate who, along with her three friends, wants to take New York by storm. This time though she and Farrell, who was always a wishy washy actor I thought, were put distinctly in the shade by two peppy up and comers. James Dunn as Mac who longs to be a crooner and, giving the film what edge it has, Ginger Rogers as the selfish and stage struck Madge who has no feeling of camaraderie once they hit the big city. The part was originally to be played by Sally Eilers and she would have been terrific but she was pregnant so Ginger was a ring in. Eilers and Dunn had been called the finds of 1931 when they co-starred in "Bad Girl" and they also became a team so maybe "Change of Heart" was a ploy by Fox to showcase their two most romantic pairings - but it backfired!!

A nice romance about four college kids trying to make it in New York. Gaynor is Catherine or "Fiery" - oddly the soothing one whose calmness holds the quartet together. In true "soap opera" tradition she loves Chris (Farrell), a struggling lawyer, who doesn't know she's alive and only has eyes for Madge who can't decide between him or the flirty Mac who is carrying a torch for "Fiery" who etc....

On the day "Fiery" finds a job Madge announces she is moving uptown as she can't handle their "slum conditions" any longer plus the fact that the others are cramping her style. The villain is Jackson (Kenneth Thomson who was such a good "lounge lizard" to Anita Page in "The Broadway Melody") first tries to romance Catherine then, when she shows her lack of interest, whisks Madge away for a quickie wedding!! That leaves the stage clear for Gaynor and Farrell to try to weave the magic they once had but in 1934 the public weren't buying it. When Chris (who is the most shadowy figure in the whole film) falls ill only Catherine's nursing pulls him through and then he realises that he has loved her all along. The viewer then realises how boring the film has become since Madge and Mac have left the scene.... but then.... Madge returns, her marriage hasn't worked out and Chris is now Plan B!!!

Of course you know it's not going to happen and the film could have finished on a quite dramatic note although Chris is so lacking in backbone who knows?? Then Mac rocks up and Madge puts all her charms to work on him and he is soon putty in her hands at the film's "cop out" ending.

One of the highlights of the movie was seeing all the bit parts by actors of some note - James Gleason, who wrote the screenplay, as a hot dog vendor, Mischa Auer as a party guest, Nick Foran singing "So What" - maybe then Fox saw him as a specialty singer (he had had a spot in "Stand Up and Cheer") and Shirley Temple who had an almost extra role as a child on a plane. I know she was billed midway up the cast lists as "Shirley" but as "Shirley" she had just created a sensation in "Stand Up and Cheer" so she was probably Fox's box office bait to lure even more people into the cinema.
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A sweet and sincere movie
mphillips5011 April 2006
I thought this was a sweet and sincere movie, capturing a sense of New York in the 1930s. Both Janet Gaynor and Charlie Farrell are perfect as the innocent lovers, and Ginger Rogers nails the role of the egotistical yet classy "friend." I did think the last scene was a bit abrupt, but otherwise, a well-done movie. For those who enjoy heart-warming light romances, this is a treat.

Along with Janet Gaynor, Charlie Farrell and Ginger Rogers, the cast is filled with stellar talent, not the least of which is Shirley Temple in the airplane scene. Beryl Mercer, Jane Darwell, James Dunn and Mischa Auer all do laudable jobs, although Dunn's role is unevenly scripted.

I found the close-ups in this movie to be very well done. The shaving scene with Farrell and Gaynor is a classic--full of sentiment yet composed. Also, the scene between the doctor and Gaynor, with the camera just catching Gaynor from the back of her head, was masterful.

It's a joy to watch understatement so beautifully played!
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A pleasant little drama about four college grads in the big city
MartinHafer28 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The film begins with a college graduation. Four friends lament that they wish they could go to New York to seek their fortune, but they haven't got the money to get there. In magical Hollywood tradition, one of their fathers gives them the money so they can all fly there. Charles Farrell, James Dunn, Ginger Rogers and Janet Gaynor are these four graduates and the story primarily focuses on Gaynor. Dunn is in love with her, but she wants to be friends. However, she is in love with Farrell, but he is smitten with selfish Rogers. An interesting little love quadrangle, huh? Through pluck and determination, Gaynor and Dunn manage to make it in the city, while Farrell has some difficulty getting a job. Rogers seems to make it "the easy way" but exactly how this happened isn't really explained in the film. All you do know is that when she does well, she appears to be "too good" for her old friends--even though Farrell continues to hold a torch for her. When he asks Rogers to marry him, she refuses--as she's found someone better. As a result, Farrell becomes despondent and sick--so sick he's on death's door. When Gaynor discovers him alone and very ill, she stays with him for weeks nursing him back to health. When he finally recovers, he not only is very grateful but also wants to marry her--having realized that Gaynor is the love of his life, not Rogers.

However, although Gaynor is happy, she does begin to wonder if Farrell loves her because of a sense of obligation or only because he couldn't have Rogers. When Rogers writes to say that she did NOT marry the man she ran off with, the audience realizes that Rogers will soon return and try to take back Farrell--leading to a nifty conclusion.

The film is very enjoyable and Gaynor plays her typical "girl next door" sort of role. While this and the rest of the film is rather predictable, it's done very well and you really are sucked into caring for her--you really do want it to have a happy ending. The only unusual thing about the film is Rogers. This was done just before she hit mega-stardom and plays a very unsympathetic character--one of the last of her career. Personally, I liked this because it was nice to see Ginger play someone who wasn't so sweet. Overall, the film is very well done and enjoyable, making it a bit better than just a time passer.
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Change of Screenplay Needed
Michael_Elliott3 February 2013
Change of Heart (1934)

** (out of 4)

Four friends (Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, James Dunn, Ginger Rogers) graduate college and decide to move from California to New York City so that they can make their dreams come true. At first the four stay together but soon personal relationships start to tear them apart. CHANGE OF HEART has pretty much been forgotten by everyone except for fans of Gaynor and Farrell as this here would be their final film together. They did a total of twelve together and I think it's easy to say that this one here isn't among their best. There are many problems with this film but I think it's rather obvious that the screenplay is simply tired and it doesn't give us anything fresh or original. If you've ever seen a romantic-drama-comedy then you're going to see every twist and turn coming. Even by 1934 standards this thing is pretty cliché ridden and even worse is that it's all too predictable. As you'd expect, along the way there are crossed romances going on. Person A loves person B but person B is in love with person C who in returns is in love with person A. The only thing that keeps this film remotely entertaining is the terrific cast led by Gaynor who is always bright enough to light up any film no matter how routine it is. She's certainly the stand-out here but Rogers is also very good in her role of the not-so-nice girl trying to become a rich actress. Both Farrell and Dunn are good as well and we've even got Dick Foran in his first role. Fans of Shirley Temple will find her here playing a girl named Shirley. CHANGE OF HEART has been forgotten over the years and it's easy to see why. The only ones needing to check this out are fans of the actors.
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I wish I could see the New Zealand version!
JohnHowardReid10 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 15 May 1934 by Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall, 10 May 1934 (ran one week). U.K. release: 8 September 1934. Australian release: 10 October 1934. New Zealand release: 29 December 1934. New Zealand length: 7,824 feet. 87 minutes. U.S. length: 6,937 feet. 77 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: After graduating from college, four friends seek fame and fortune in New York.

NOTES: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences granted a miniature statuette to Shirley Temple "in grateful recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during the year 1934."

DVDs of this movie are currently offered by Public Domain suppliers.

COMMENT: Although this movie was certainly released in 1934 (it ran a week in May at the Radio City Music Hall), it is extremely doubtful if the Board of Governors had this picture in mind when awarding Shirley her miniature statuette. Even though her name is prominently displayed in the film's advertising, it's nonsense to talk about her being in this movie. As a passenger in an airliner en route to New York, she's on screen for about 3 minutes! (Admittedly, I'm talking about the 77-minute USA version).

"Change of Heart" is primarily a Farrell-Gaynor vehicle — their last. The combination is stale here. Miss Gaynor looks old too (though she was reportedly only 28 at the time), being flatly photographed and rather dowdily dressed. The photographer and costumer do similar disservices to Ginger Rogers and Drue Leyton, though Barbara Barondess looks attractive in her brief appearance.

As for Charles Farrell, he is, would you believe, somewhat wooden and charmless? Farrell was handsome enough and well-spoken enough to survive the transition to sound, but he floundered, partly due to lack of talent (although this didn't deter many other people), but mostly due to sheer laziness. He simply didn't like to work for hard taskmasters like Frank Borzage or F. W. Murnau. Easy- going Johnny Blystone was definitely his favorite sort of director.

So it's no surprise to find the support players are not much better. James Dunn is always talking about his singing career, but outside of a bit of clowning around, doesn't sing a note (whereas minor player Dick Foran sings solidly for two whole minutes — and alas that two minutes is the sole extent of his on screen contribution. What a pity his part isn't larger)!

Nonetheless, Mary Carr makes the most of her one-take scene. And it's always good to see Jane Darwell, even though she is glimpsed but briefly.

Blystone's direction starts briskly at the graduation, which is nicely paced and composed, but once in New York his efforts become quite routine and undistinguished, although the deft cutting of Margaret Clancey does something to spark a bit of dramatic life into certain scenes.

Production values are moderate. Stock footage of New York is used liberally throughout. Although treating the girls somewhat harshly, Hal Mohr's lighting is rich in attractively glossy blacks. Aside from the opening graduation scenes, the sets, however, — even those supposed to be luxurious — prove disappointingly drab.
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What tunes would take the place of Broadway's hot tunes
zafrom22 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
If you like the main players in this picture -- Gaynor, Farrell, Dunn, and Rogers -- then you will enjoy this modest picture. Otherwise it could be around 2-1/2 stars out of 4 stars. It looks economically made and, per IMDb's Release Dates, Fox released it only 3 weeks after Stand Up and Cheer! But could it have been filmed first? Shirley Temple is very recognizable in the film, for all of the 3/4 of a second that she is on camera, without even a chance to speak. If Stand Up and Cheer! gave to her her breakthrough role, then why was she all but cut from Change of Heart? Another missed opportunity was Mischa Auer's who has maybe 5 seconds and 1 line. Symptoms of what encouraged Fox to merge the next year with Twentieth Century Pictures?

As other reviewers have mentioned, this is still a heartwarming film. Besides the lovey-doveyness of Gaynor and Farrell, Rogers is also fun. She seemingly tries to vamp any guy who comes her way. Dunn's performance reminded me of Johnny Nolan 11 years later in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and here he is even more optimistic, even though they all start out in low rent accommodations.

One of my favorite scenes is the 2+ minutes with Gaynor and Farrell on the boat to Coney Island. Not so much for what they talk about as for the background music. The scene starts out showing couples dancing, and the music that the band plays for the 2+ minutes is "Broadway's Gone Hill-Billy" (AKA ...Hillbilly; 1934 recordings used both spellings). Yes, the same song featured in Stand Up and Cheer! Fox, like the other studios, evidently liked to promote its music library. Hillbillyness has nothing to do with either Gaynor or Farrell (neither one particularly sprightly in this scene), and the dancers also appear oblivious to the unsung lyrics, but the tune is still guaranteed to get you out onto the dance floor. Yet another of the enjoyable scenes in Change of Heart.
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A partnership is dissolved
vert00114 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Burdened with a less than exciting script, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell ended their twelve film partnership with the undistinguished CHANGE OF HEART. Four recent college graduates (Gaynor, Farrell, Ginger Rogers and James Dunn) travel together to New York to make their fortunes. You would think that the travails of young friends trying to make their ways in the big city would make for compelling drama, but it rarely does.

Gaynor plays a saintly soul with the patience of Job, and it's a testament to her skill as an actress that she makes so treacly a role thoroughly likable. Poor Farrell acts well enough but, as became customary for him in these talkie pairings with Gaynor, is stuck playing a dumbbell who actually falls sick unto death simply because Rogers has married somebody else! Gaynor finally wins her true love by nursing him back to health. This happens in a long, long scene during which she shaves him! I don't want to blame filmmakers for taking chances, but this was one chance that didn't pay off.

Ginger Rogers was in the interregnum between FLYING DOWN TO RIO and THE GAY Divorcée, meaning that she was a rather hot property but not yet a true star. This role, commonplace in thirties' cinema (heck, Claire Dodd made a career playing it), is unique in her own career and one of the few unsympathetic characters that she ever played. She probably performed it better than the film deserved, something you could say for its entire excellent cast.
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Change of Heart is Dated **1/2
edwagreen23 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Very dated 1934 with Janet Gaynor again playing a sweet, loving girl who with 3 friends come to N.Y. to find fame and fortune after graduation from college. The 3 friends are James Dunn, Charles Farrell and a spunky, but nasty Ginger Rogers.

Basically, a love quadrangle soon develops. Farrell loves Rogers, Gaynor loves Farrell and Dunn loves Gaynor. Of course, a selfish Rogers, runs off with a wealthy guy and soon realizes he is not for her. In the interim, being nursed back to health after falling ill, Farrell realizes that Gaynor is for him and the two wed and live in a 4th floor walk-up. Is this almost "Seventh Heaven" again?

At least, this film ends happily.
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