The "world" of the title is America's Midwest, and the "change" takes place from 1852 until the stock market crash of 1929. The film centers on the Nordholm family, a group of pioneers who have called the Dakotas their home. Young Muni decides to leave the home of his parents MacMahon and
O'Neill and head for Texas with a herd of cattle. Eventually he meets Kibbee, the owner of a Chicago slaughterhouse, and forms a partnership with him. Soon Muni has fallen in love with Kibbee's daughter, Astor, and the pair marry, settling down to a posh life style. By now, Muni has made a fortune
by devising a way to ship beef in refrigerated train cars. After the birth of two sons and the death of Kibbee, Muni's future appears to be a solid and prosperous one. As the years pass, Astor grows discontented with her standard of living and views her husband's occupation as a "butcher" socially
unacceptable. She tries to pressure him into selling his company and investing in a stock brokerage firm for their now-grown son, Cook, who has recently married Lindsay, the daughter of a New York high-society family. Astor continues her manipulative attempts to get Muni to sell, but fails and is
reduced to lunacy and, eventually, death. As time progresses to 1929, the world has changed even more. Muni, now a grandfather, has sold his meat business and invested in his son's brokerage business. When the market crashes, Cook turns to embezzlement to cushion his fall, but instead winds up
facing a prison sentence. In the hope of keeping the family name of Nordholm honorable, Muni offers the remainder of his personal fortune to his son. However, when Cook discovers that his wife is having an affair with a business associate, he turns to suicide. Devastated by the loss of his son,
Muni, now 77 years of age, dies of a stroke. A picture of great scope, THE WORLD CHANGES benefits greatly from Muni's superb performance. At the age of 38 Muni convincingly portrayed a young man in his twenties and a grandfather in his late seventies, displaying an ability to capture the essence
of both. (His very first acting performance, at the age of 12, actually proved to be early training for THE WORLD CHANGES--he hid behind a beard and played a man of 60.) This was Muni's second outing for Warner Bros., following I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, also directed by LeRoy and written
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