Symphony of Six Million (1932)

92 or 94 mins | Drama | 29 April 1932

Director:

Gregory La Cava

Cinematographer:

Leo Tover

Editor:

Archie Marshek

Production Designer:

Carroll Clark

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The title frame of the viewed print read, "Fannie Hurst's Symphony of Six Million." Gregory Ratoff made his film debut in the picture. In New York, the film was screened twice daily at the Gaiety theater, which charged up to $1.50 for a single ticket, and had a four-week run "with options." According to Var , this film cost $270,000 to produce. In a letter to Katharine Brown, RKO's New York story editor, associate producer Pandro Berman stated that he was interested in hiring actor Maurice Moscovitch to play the role of the father in the film. The part was eventually played by Ratoff, however. He also suggested to Brown that she avoid "the usual conception of Jewish characters, as for instance Buster Collier in Street Scene , or Vera Gordon" (a popular vaudeville, stage and screen actress who frequently played "Jewish mother" roles). The Var review noted that this film was one of the few pictures to feature a Reform rabbi. In a letter to RKO head David O. Selznick, Jason S. Joy of the MPAA warned that censors in Ohio might object to the film's operating scenes because "such scenes are too realistic if not actually gruesome" for a general audience. Modern sources include Harold Goodwin in the cast as an ... More Less

The title frame of the viewed print read, "Fannie Hurst's Symphony of Six Million." Gregory Ratoff made his film debut in the picture. In New York, the film was screened twice daily at the Gaiety theater, which charged up to $1.50 for a single ticket, and had a four-week run "with options." According to Var , this film cost $270,000 to produce. In a letter to Katharine Brown, RKO's New York story editor, associate producer Pandro Berman stated that he was interested in hiring actor Maurice Moscovitch to play the role of the father in the film. The part was eventually played by Ratoff, however. He also suggested to Brown that she avoid "the usual conception of Jewish characters, as for instance Buster Collier in Street Scene , or Vera Gordon" (a popular vaudeville, stage and screen actress who frequently played "Jewish mother" roles). The Var review noted that this film was one of the few pictures to feature a Reform rabbi. In a letter to RKO head David O. Selznick, Jason S. Joy of the MPAA warned that censors in Ohio might object to the film's operating scenes because "such scenes are too realistic if not actually gruesome" for a general audience. Modern sources include Harold Goodwin in the cast as an intern. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
10 Apr 32
p. 10.
International Photographer
Apr 32
p. 29.
Motion Picture Herald
2 Apr 32
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Apr 32
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
28 May 32
p. 87.
New York Times
15 Apr 32
p. 23.
Variety
19 Apr 32
p. 14.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Fannie Hurst's Symphony of Six Million
Release Date:
29 April 1932
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 14 April 1932
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 April 1932
Copyright Number:
LP2974
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92 or 94
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

As a boy in the Jewish ghetto of New York, Felix Klauber dreams of becoming a surgeon, while his brother Magnus devises ways to make quick money. After many years of study, Felix earns his medical degree and becomes a physician in the local clinic, where his unorthodox but successful methods earn him the respect of both his patients and his peers. Magnus, however, convinces Felix's mother Hannah that Felix should quit the clinic and open a lucrative private practice on the Upper West Side to better provide for the family, which includes Felix's aging father Meyer and his unmarried sister Birdie. Although troubled by Magnus' plan, Hannah uses her maternal influence and talks Felix into changing his practice. Soon Felix moves to Park Avenue and establishes himself as the doctor "with the million-dollar hands," whose patients' complaints are more imaginary than real. Trapped by his financial success, Felix neglects his family and ignores Jessica, his crippled childhood sweetheart who teaches at the Braille Institute for the Blind. When Felix fails to show up to perform a lifesaving operation on one of her impoverished blind students, Jessica denounces him as a traitor to his heritage and to his profession. Humbled and confused, Felix attends the "Redemption of the First Born" ceremony given in his baby nephew's honor and witnesses the sudden collapse of his father. At his family's urging, Felix agrees to perform surgery on his father, who has an advanced brain tumor, but loses his patient shortly into the operation. Devastated by his father's death, Felix vows never to practice medicine again and falls into a deep depression. ... +


As a boy in the Jewish ghetto of New York, Felix Klauber dreams of becoming a surgeon, while his brother Magnus devises ways to make quick money. After many years of study, Felix earns his medical degree and becomes a physician in the local clinic, where his unorthodox but successful methods earn him the respect of both his patients and his peers. Magnus, however, convinces Felix's mother Hannah that Felix should quit the clinic and open a lucrative private practice on the Upper West Side to better provide for the family, which includes Felix's aging father Meyer and his unmarried sister Birdie. Although troubled by Magnus' plan, Hannah uses her maternal influence and talks Felix into changing his practice. Soon Felix moves to Park Avenue and establishes himself as the doctor "with the million-dollar hands," whose patients' complaints are more imaginary than real. Trapped by his financial success, Felix neglects his family and ignores Jessica, his crippled childhood sweetheart who teaches at the Braille Institute for the Blind. When Felix fails to show up to perform a lifesaving operation on one of her impoverished blind students, Jessica denounces him as a traitor to his heritage and to his profession. Humbled and confused, Felix attends the "Redemption of the First Born" ceremony given in his baby nephew's honor and witnesses the sudden collapse of his father. At his family's urging, Felix agrees to perform surgery on his father, who has an advanced brain tumor, but loses his patient shortly into the operation. Devastated by his father's death, Felix vows never to practice medicine again and falls into a deep depression. However, when Jessica, whose spinal condition has worsened, announces that she is going to take a chance on a dangerous operation that may end her lameness, Felix offers his services and perfectly executes the operation. His confidence restored, Felix returns to medicine and to his ghetto roots. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.