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Break of Hearts (1935)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 31 May 1935 (USA)
Franz Roberti is a famous orchestra conductor who has a number of girlfriends. While talking with his old music teacher, Professor Thalma, he meets Constance, an aspiring music composer. ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Johnny Lawrence
Professor Thalma
Miss Wilson
Helene Millard ...
Sylvia DeWitt
Enrico Pazzini
Susan Fleming ...
Lee Kohlmar ...
Jean Howard ...
Didi Smith-Lennox
Lady Phyllis Cameron


Franz Roberti is a famous orchestra conductor who has a number of girlfriends. While talking with his old music teacher, Professor Thalma, he meets Constance, an aspiring music composer. They see each other, fall in love and marry. They honeymoon all over Europe and are happy back home until Constance finds him with a society divorcee and leaves him. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

31 May 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ask Senfonisi  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character of Franz Roberti was based on two real-life conductors of the period: Leopold Stokowski, who was well known for his rearrangements of music by Bach, Wagner and other composers; and Arturo Toscanini, who was notorious for insulting his musicians during rehearsals the way Roberti does in the film. See more »


Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (From the New World)
(1893) (uncredited)
Music by Antonín Dvorák
Excerpts played at a concert
See more »

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User Reviews

Symphony of Love
10 July 2016 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

BREAK OF HEARTS (RKO Radio, 1935), directed by Philip Moeller, is not a movie dealing with gamblers in a card game, but a title in brief telling its movie patrons what to expect, that of a melodramatic story in the soap-opera mode. Starring the still youthful and radiant Katharine Hepburn in her seventh movie role and first 1935 release, it returns her to contemporary setting in New York City for the first time since her Academy Award winning performance in MORNING GLORY (1933). Rather than having Hepburn in the world of Broadway, offices of producers and theater actors, BREAK OF HEART places her in the love story of concerts and classical music. Aside from casting her opposite Charles Boyer (for the first time in a perfectly fitting role to his screen personality), it also reunites Hepburn with John Beal, her co-star from her previous effort of THE LITTLE MINISTER (1934). This time Beal assumes a secondary best friend character part in the manner that makes one immediately think of James Stewart.

From the screenplay by Sarah Y. Mason, Victor Heerman and Anthony Veiller, the story opens in New York's Eastern Theater where Franz Roberti (Charles Boyer), a renowned musical conductor with "an eye for the ladies," places Elsie (Susan Fleming), one of his latest dates, in a taxi bound for home while he takes another to 31 Washington Square to visit with Professor Talma (Jean Hersholt), a music teacher who had guided Roberti to what he has become. While visiting with Talma, Roberti meets Constance Worth (Katharine Hepburn), a struggling young composer living in the apartment below, and becomes well acquainted. Unable to buy a ticket to one of his concerts, Constance enters the theater to watch one of Roberti's rehearsals. After a month of courtship, the two marry and honeymoon throughout Europe. Upon their return to New York, Franz's many hours of concert rehearsals keeps him away from his wife. However, Constance takes pleasure in the company of Roberti's best friend, Johnny Lawrence (John Beal). At her insistence, Johnny takes Constance to dinner at the Ritz where, in the powder room, overhears gossip between two women about her husband. She finds the gossip to be true when finding Franz in the company of the gossiping socialite women, Sylvia DeWitt (Helene Millard) and Didi Lenox-Smith (Jean Howard). More because of his lying than anything else, the marriage leads to separation and individual hardships ahead. Others members of the supporting cast include: Sam Hardy (Mr. Goldmarks); Inez Courtney (Miss Wilson); Ferdinald Gottschalk (Enrico Pazzini, Roberti's Manager); and Lee Kohlmar (Schubert, one of the members of Roberti's concert ensemble). Take notice that one of the girls in the assortment of Franz Robert's picture frames of girlfriends looks like the blonde Lucille Ball.

While BREAK OF HEARTS might have been a semi-biography of actual composers or symphony conductors, it's mostly a fictional modern-day story consisting of interludes involving classical music. Composition excerpts presented or heard throughout production (though not necessarily on chronological order) are: "Symphony # 9 in G Minor" by Antonin Dvorak; Robert Schumann's "Traumeroe" from Kinderscenen; "Symphony No. 8 in B Minor" by Franz Schubert; "Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Opus 74" by Pyotir Tchiakovsky; "Tucca and Fugue in D Minor" by Johann Sebastian Bach; "Symphony No. 1 in C Minor" by Johannes Brahams, just to name a few. The contemporary songs worked into the plot are "Happy Go Lucky and Free" briefly sung not so well by Sam Hardy for a customer (played by Eddie Kane) at Goldmarks Music Publishing Company; and background scoring to "The Continental" heard during a New Year's Eve party.

Following a series of prior successful and/or disappointing movie assignments for Hepburn, the material provided in BREAK OF HEARTS seemed quite familiar to 1930s movie audiences, considering how top actresses of the day, Greta Garbo or Norma Shearer, as prime examples, had tackled similar themes in their movies that have proved successful at the box-office. Hepburn on the other hand seemed out of character in such a story, especially during a couple of melodramatic moments. In spite of Hepburn and Boyer's fine work together, BREAK OF HEARTS reportedly didn't prove favorable at the box-office. Maybe this on-again, off-again romance story just wasn't Hepburn's forte after all, unless similarly done in the comedic mode opposite such fitting Hepburn leading men types as Cary Grant or Spencer Tracy.

Being one of the least known or revived of Hepburn's 1930s RKO Radio productions, as opposed to commercial television dating back to the 1960s and 70s, or revivals at Hepburn film festivals, BREAK OF HEARTS did, however, become available on video cassette in the 1990s, even with occasional showings on cable television's American Movie Classics (prior to 2000) where the audio playback was distorted; and better audio and clearer print from Turner Classic Movies and its DVD release. BREAK OF HEARTS might never be scaled to great motion picture heights, but remains simply an average story for 78 minutes of screen entertainment. (***)

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