Symphony of Six Million (1932): La Cava’s Pre-Code Family Melodrama (Father-Son. Jewish)

Gregory La Cava directed Symphony of Six Million, a Pre-Code medical melodrama, starring Ricardo Cortez, Irene Dunne and Gregory Ratoff.

Based on the story “Night Bell” by Fannie Hurst, the film concerns the rise of a Jewish physician from humble roots to the top of his profession at the social costs of losing his connection with his community and his family.

Felix ‘”Felixel” Klauber, a brilliant man from a tight-knit Jewish family in New York City’s Lower East Side ghetto, fulfills his childhood dream and becomes a physician.

He establishing himself as a Park Avenue doctor catering to the wealthy after working his way up from a Lower East Side clinic. He is spurred on by an older brother, who is materialistic and uses Felix’s love for their mother to insist that Felix better his station in life for the benefit of his family.

Felix’s success causes him to become estranged from both his family and the community, including his childhood friend Jessica, disabled with spine malady since childhood.

Felix ignores the clinic he established in the old neighborhood and his familial and community obligations. A blind child, a student of Jessica, perishes as Felix is tardy in offering his help.

Felix operates on his beloved father’s brain tumor, and is mortified when he dies. He turns away from surgery and his gift of healing, catering to well-heeled patients.

When Jessica—who has loved Felix all her life—requires an operation on her spine, he needs to overcome his fears and insecurities to save her life.

Ricardo Cortez as Dr. Felix Klauber
Irene Dunne as Jessica
Anna Appel as Hannah Klauber
Gregory Ratoff as Meyer Klauber
Noel Madison as Magnus Klauber
Lita Chevret as Birdie Klauber
Helen Freeman – Miss Spencer, Felix’s Nurse


TCM showed the movie on April 24, 2020.