Friday, January 18, 2013

Symphony of Six Million (1932)



“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.” 

            Symphony of Six Million is one of those what-will-I-not-watch-if-my-favorite-actor/actress-is-in-it type films. I adore Irene Dunne she was a fabulous actress who is sadly incredibly underrated. Her film career was not as prolific as other actresses so it is always great when TCM airs any of her films. Had Dunne continued to make films like Symphony of Six Million and she had not made Theodora Goes Wild or The Awful Truth or any of her later films I do not think anyone today would even know her name. The more of Dunne’s early films I see the more boring they become. They were dramatic women’s pictures with the most boring drawn out plots. I will say that any film I watch is always an experience though not always a memorable experience. Symphony of Six Million has gone down as a not so memorable experience.
            The film begins in the East Side ghetto in New York City around the turn of the century. Felix Klauber is a very smart little boy with dreams of becoming a doctor. He lives with his older brother and younger sister and their very loving parents. His best friend is a girl named Jessica who is crippled.
            Felix eventually becomes a doctor. He loves his work at the local clinic. He became a doctor to help people who really need him and does not care what they pay him. Felix’s older brother Magnus is money hungry. Magnus convinces their mother to tell Felix that she is upset that he is not running a practice uptown and making more money. As she says these things to Felix she is very distraught because she knows Felix is so happy where he is.
            With Magnus’s help Felix opens an office uptown and prospers very fast. It is very clear he hates working uptown only treating reach women with made up neurotic conditions. Again Magnus convinces his brother to move his office this time to Park Avenue. Felix makes more money than anyone around him could have hoped for. His sister marries a rich man and Magnus has become a successful business man.
            Jessica (Irene Dunne) is the only one who knows how much Felix would love to return to the ghetto and work in the clinic. She knows his spark for medicine and being a doctor left him when he left the ghetto.
            Dramatic happenings unfold that eventually bring Felix back to Jessica and back to the ghetto he loves.
            Good lord it was even boring to have to think back to the film to write that short blurb.
            So much of the film was dragged out. I understand there was the point of family and their importance and knowing where you came and money and fame do not always buy happiness that had to get across.
            Symphony of Six Million was hard to sit through after a while. I think it was the fact that Irene Dunne had a combined twelve-fifteen minutes of screen time out of this hour and thirty-six minute film when she was second billed. The story was not bad it just dragged. If Symphony of Six Million is ever on TCM again (it was aired for Irene Dunne during Summer Under the Stars. That is how long I have had this film on my DVR) give it a try… only if you are a fan of Irene Dunne. This is a perfect example of what I will watch just to see one of my favorite actors or actresses.