Even though this drama was made early in King Vidor's directing career, his sense of humanity -- one of the defining qualities of his films -- was already very much evident. J. Martin Trent (Alfred Allen), owner of the Trent Iron Works, does not believe that business and sentiment mix. His son, Donald (Charles Meredith), begins to question this during the World War. He goes to fight in France, as does one of the company's workers, Jimmy (David Butler). The two men become friends, and Jimmy saves Donald's life. The two soldiers return home to their sweethearts -- Katherine Boone (Florence Vidor) for Donald and Jennie Jones (ZaSu Pitts) for Jimmy. Jimmy returns to his old job at the Works, while Donald insists that he learn the business by starting at the bottom. He feels a strong sense of duty to his fellowmen, but then his father dies suddenly and his ideals are put to the test. Under pressure, he becomes as hard and callous as his father, and Katherine refuses to marry him. Instead, she helps Caleb Fairman (Thomas Jefferson) keep his newspaper running. The Beacon has an uplifting theme for the people, and finally one of its stories reaches Donald. He once again takes up his ideals and renews his friendship with Jimmy. The two couples then work together for the good of humanity.
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