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Gregory La Cava
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A brilliant young doctor grows away from his family and his community when his older brother convinces him to make his fortune as a Park Avenue doctor. He spends his time prescribing placebos to people who are not sick leaving no time for his clinic and his passion of genuine healing. When tragedy strikes, he sees where his obligations lie, but will it be too late? Written by
Sister Grimm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My boy, there are two kinds of men in our profession. Some are gifted with the spark of genius; some of us are... just doctors.
[walks to the door and opens it, then turns back toward Felix]
Felix Klauber, you're more capable than I, but if you don't go through with this operation, I will.
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... and Dr. Felix Klauber (Ricardo Cortez as the adult Felix) always seems to have the best intentions. The movie starts out showing Felix as a child studying on the doorstep of his family's ghetto tenement house, taking time to defend a local girl with a curved spine (Irene Dunne as Jessica) from some taunting street bullies. The movie spends a good deal of time focusing on Felix' home environment as a child. We learn that his parents are immigrant Jews, that his father has a kind heart but a bit of a temper, that his brother can be a trouble maker but only in the way that most boys can be, and that his mother is everything you'd want a mom to be. In other words, Felix lives surrounded by misery and poverty, but his own family is doing alright and he has a very good home. Felix is very thoughtful and decides the best way he can alleviate the misery of the poor is to become a doctor and treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay.
Unlike most childhood dreams, Felix works hard and makes his a reality. As a doctor he treats people both at his home - he still lives in the ghetto with his family - and at a local clinic set up for such work. Everybody is happy - except Felix' brother Magnus. Magnus has become a businessman, thinks everything should be for sale, and that includes medicine. He's unhappy that Felix still lives with his parents in the ghetto when he could set up a nice practice in the wealthier part of the city. Knowing his brother could care less what he thinks, he convinces their mother to beg Felix to go uptown based on the fact that their father is getting old and needs to retire. It works.
The next thing we see is Felix treating socialite women whose only problem is that they are bored and overweight, although he does get paid handsomely for it. Now everyone in the Klauber household is again happy - except Felix who realizes his talents are being wasted but just can't seem to break away from the ties that bind him to his new existence. He no longer even has time to spend with the family he did all of this for in the first place. How will all of this come out? I'll let you watch and find out.
The ending was a bit too melodramatic, but overall it was a pretty satisfying film. Another reviewer mentioned the one unusual precode element of this film - the detailed portrayal of a Jewish religious ceremony being performed towards the end of the film on Birdie's new born baby - Birdie was Felix' sister. The production code which began being enforced in 1934 only allowed Christian rituals to be shown. Another unusual element of the film - Jessica as Felix' love interest although she has a noticeably curved spine. Jessica teaches blind children and acts as Felix' link to his past and his once virtuous goals. It's almost like in the cartoons when you see a character with an angel on one shoulder whispering in one ear and a devil in the other. Jessica plays the part of the angel here, Magnus is the devil - however he's a smart enough devil to always send his mother as his mouthpiece. Who would say no to mom?
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