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Symphony of Living (1935)

Approved | | Drama | 20 January 1935 (USA)

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There is this old concertmaster of the Cosmopolitian Orchestra and he is about to realize his life-long ambition of appearing as a soloist with the orchestra, when an accident robs him of ... See full summary »



(story and adaptation) (as Charles Spencer Belden)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Adolph Greig
Richard Greig
Albert Conti ...
Lester Lee ...
Carl Rupert
Gigi Parrish ...
Carmen Rozzini
Michael Rupert
Herb Livingston
Ferike Boros ...
Mary Schultz
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink ...
The Doctor
The Judge
William Worthington ...
Symphony Chairman
Leslie Goodwins ...
Oboe Player (as Les Goodwin)
Gregory Golubeff ...
Max - a Violinist (as Gregory Goluboff)


There is this old concertmaster of the Cosmopolitian Orchestra and he is about to realize his life-long ambition of appearing as a soloist with the orchestra, when an accident robs him of use of his right hand. His children, upon learning of his misfortune, immediately desert him knowing he will no longer provide them with money. So Adolph Greig sinks lower and lower and becomes a street beggar, too proud to ask for help from his friends and unable to find his son or daughter. One night, standing in front of the concert hall, he sinks to the street from hunger and fatigue. He is picked up by two men associated with the orchestra, Mancini and Rozzini, and they take him to Rozzini's and they develop a plan whereby they will set up Greig in a next-door studio where he can give violin lessons. A young violin genius named Carl Rupert shows up and, with the aid of Mancini and Rozzini, Greig starts the boy off on a brilliant career. Or, what promised to be a brilliant career until his ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Release Date:

20 January 1935 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor High Fidelity Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Positively Mister Shean
1 November 2010 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

Accomplished violinist Al Shean (as Adolph Greig) is ready to celebrate his advancing years by soloing with a noted New York orchestra - but, Mr. Shean wounds his hand, and effectively ends his career. Then, Shean's two selfish, ungrateful children desert their old man. Rebellious son John Darrow (as Richard) pawns his dad's cello to begin a life of crime, and shallow daughter Evelyn Brent (as Paula) elopes with wealthy older Richard Tucker (as Michael Rupert).

With no means of support, Shean hits the streets (this film was made just before President Franklin D. Roosevelt's new deal "Social Security" program became law). Unconcerned, Ms. Brent enjoys spending her husband's money. She bears him one neglected son, but discourages the boy's interest in music. When old musician friend Albert Conti (as Mancini) and trombonist Charles Judels (as Rozzini) discover Shean has become a homeless beggar, they help set him up as a violin instructor.

Shean's young pupils play poorly, but his teaching is a success. He also enjoys a surrogate father relationship Mr. Judels' attractive daughter Gigi Parrish (as Carmen) and her amorous boyfriend John Harron (as Herb Livingston), who plays saxophone. Eventually, Shean's wayward son learns of his father's new success, and Mr. Darrow moves back in with his forgiving dad. Shean welcomes Darrow with a loan, unaware the crooked kid plans to use Shean as a front for illegal activities.

Meanwhile, daughter Brent finally runs off with some divorce settlement money, provided by Mr. Tucker. Brent is uninterested in son "Carl", so father Tucker places the wavy-haired lad, now played by Lester Lee, in foster care, with grandmotherly Ferike Boros (as Mary Schultz), and takes off for Europe. Young Lee still loves to play the violin, and begins to study with Shean - but, the two do not know they are related. When Lee becomes a child prodigy, the family is reunited… in court.

Producer Maury M. Cohen's "An Invincible Picture" opening logo heralds this as a "poverty row" film. Yet, "Symphony of Living" makes the most of its interesting cast and crew. A tidy little melodrama, complete with closing dissolve, it's lesson in low-budget filmmaking. Shean handles the starring role well; uncle to "The Marx Bothers" and equally famous in the 1920s as half of "Gallagher & Shean", his million selling #1 hit "Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Shean" (1922) is readily available online.

****** Symphony of Living (1/20/35) Frank R. Strayer ~ Al Shean, John Darrow, Evelyn Brent, John Harron

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