6.2/10
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15 user 7 critic

Symphony of Six Million (1932)

Approved | | Drama | 29 April 1932 (USA)
Boy grows up to become a successful doctor at the expense of family relationships.

Director:

Gregory La Cava

Writers:

Fannie Hurst (story), J. Walter Ruben (screenplay and dialogue) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ricardo Cortez ... Dr. Felix 'Felixel' Klauber
Irene Dunne ... Jessica
Anna Appel Anna Appel ... Hannah Klauber
Gregory Ratoff ... Meyer Klauber
Noel Madison ... Magnus Klauber
Lita Chevret ... Birdie Klauber
John St. Polis ... Dr. Schifflen
Julie Haydon ... Miss Grey - Felix's Nurse-Receptionist
Helen Freeman Helen Freeman ... Miss Spencer - Felix's Nurse
Josephine Whittell ... Mrs. Gifford
Oscar Apfel ... Conferring Doctor
Eddie Phillips ... Birdie's Husband
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Storyline

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 <srgrimm@teleport.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 April 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fanny Hurst's Symphony for Six Million See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$270,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Dr. Schifflen: 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]
Dr. Schifflen: Felix Klauber, you're more capable than I, but if you don't go through with this operation, I will.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Experience: The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a nice glass Schmalz
8 October 2006 | by paulwlSee all my reviews

A previous viewer commented that there isn't anything "Pre-Code" about "Symphony of Six Million." Ohhhh, yes there is - the frank and loving embrace of Jews and Jewishness, especially the familial bonds of aspiration, hope and love so strong and heart-rending that conflict and guilt are its inevitable by-products.

Such an overtly Jewish photo play wouldn't have been acceptable in the Hollywood of just a few years later. No one would come right out and say so, but the likely reason was the sensibilities of the newly militant Catholic audience, then being stirred up by the likes of Father Charles Coughlin's anti-Semitic radio talks. Also to be catered to were the quieter prejudices of Middle Western Protestants, for whom Will Hays stood in as proxy on the Code committee.

The story being pretty boilerplate, the charm of this film is all in the atmosphere, which is laid on pretty thickly. Crucial to this are able supporting players, especially Gregory Ratoff and Anna Appel as Papa and Mama Klauber. Ricardo Cortez is a bit stiff as the conflicted, noble Felix, but his swarthy, polished earnestness hits just the right note for the well-to-do My-Son-The-Park-Avenue-Doctor, 1932 edition. Irene Dunne as Jessica, Felix's crippled love interest, is lovable mostly for being Irene Dunne, whose refined features and diction don't gibe at all with her role as a ghetto girl. It says a lot about the men who once ran the movies that an obviously Jewish romantic female lead was something they couldn't, or wouldn't, portray. Authentic Jewish womanhood was still inseparable from the family matriarch, played with affecting melodrama by Appel.

TCM's Robert Osborne pointed out that "Symphony" was one of the first talkies with a full original score. At David Selznick's behest, Max Steiner wrote nearly continuous music for the film. It's heavy going at times: Felix's inner drama is too often greeted by heroic heralds of brass, and the lugubrious harmonic-minor strings accompanying Irene Dunne's entrances are like a nice glass Schmalz poured over a sumptuous Sunday chicken dinner.


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