The Great Gabbo

1929

Drama / Musical / Romance

0
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 71%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 50%
IMDb Rating 6.1 10 821

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN

Cast

Erich von Stroheim as The Great Gabbo

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 7 / 10

good and unusual film marred by the musical numbers

This was a very good film that could have been great had it not been a musical. But, in 1929 when the movie came out, Hollywood seemed to be producing tons of musicals (so they could show off the new medium of talking pictures) and a lot of stage numbers were used to stretch out the film. Unfortunately, they had a tendency to distract from the main plot and after a while got really tedious. I think showing bits and pieces of the musical numbers or eliminating them altogether would have been a good idea in retrospect.

Erich von Stroheim played "Gabbo", the world's greatest but seriously flawed ventriloquist. He could make his dummy "Otto" say nice things but he himself was a cruel, pompous jerk when the film began. The film starts with Gabbo unmercifully berating his companion, Mary, and blaming her for every little flaw in his act. It seems that he was just a mean-spirited perfectionist who felt a need to scapegoat someone. Well, after thoroughly mistreating her, she left him. Despite this, his act improved considerably and Gabbo was the star of Broadway within two years. But, he was also incredibly lonely and longed to have Mary back. And, as luck would have it, he ended up performing in the same show as Mary and had high hopes of getting back with her and telling her he loved her and was sorry for his past behavior. This aspect of the film and how it all worked out was the most satisfying and movie part of the film.

However, while the film ultimately concerned Gabbo and his ultimate loneliness over losing Mary, there is a strange aspect of the film that is never fully developed and I really wished it had been. You see, in the first 2/3 of the film, Otto seems way too real and creepy. He is able to move and talk rather independently of Gabbo--as if he is either REAL or that he is in fact Gabbo's alter-ego and he cannot separate himself from his dummy. Either way, it's strange that von Stroheim can eat and drink--all the while Otto talks and talks and even lectures Gabbo! It is highly reminiscent of the later film, MAGIC, as well as an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, where the dummy turns out to be real. But, this entirely brilliant aspect of the film just vanishes as if they forgot to continue this subplot! Still, overall it's a highly originally plot for its time and a great curio. Plus, for 1929, the sound and picture quality on the new Library of Congress restoration released by Kino Video.

PS--As a homage to this film, THE SIMPSONS had an episode where a ventriloquist and his dummy, Gabbo, became a huge hit with the kids and briefly put Krusty out of work.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

"....and Otto makes three"

As director and actor Erich Von Stroheim did some very weird films and The Great Gabbo is certainly one of them. In this Von Stroheim is a star attraction in a Ziegfeld Follies type stage review and he is fixated on Betty Compson who used to be his assistant in his act, but walked out on him because he treated her shabbily.

Now she is keeping company with Donald Douglas a young hoofer in the show. He's actually upset as well with her interest in Von Stroheim.

In a way it's hard to review this because just the name of Erich Von Stroheim brings up images of barbaric cruelty show on the screen. The name alone is sufficient to conjure up horrible images.

So Von Stroheim wants to set up house with her and his dummy Otto. As in most ventriloquist stories the dummy functions as an alter ego.

All this with the backdrop of a Ziegfeld type show. That was interesting and like Glorifying The American Girl, The Great Gabbo is a nice filmed record of what these shows were like on stage.

Although Von Stroheim is always interesting, The Great Gabbo's best value is as a record of the type musical revue so popular back then.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 6 / 10

Watch it for von Stroheim

THE GREAT GABBO is one of the earliest talkies and it certains makes the most of that opportunity for sound, featuring as it does an excellent turn from Erich von Stroheim a the thoroughly sinister and out-of-his-mind ventriloquist who has an unhealthy relationship with his own dummy. The film's background of musical extravaganzas and innocent chorus girls is bright and cheerful in itself, but it's von Stroheim who makes this work; the 'living doll' sub-plot would go on to be reworked to great success in the likes of DEAD OF NIGHT, DEVIL-DOLL and MAGIC.

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