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The Great Gabbo (1929)

Passed  -  Drama | Musical | Romance  -  12 September 1929 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 404 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 14 critic

An insanely, egocentric ventriloquist, even though he is possessed by his wooden dummy, is in love with a dancer who is in love with another. The dummy gives advice to the ventriloquist.


, (uncredited)


(story), (continuity), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Great Gabbo (1929)

The Great Gabbo (1929) on IMDb 6.3/10

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Credited cast:
Donald Douglas ...
Marjorie Kane ...
Babe (as Margie 'Babe' Kane)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John F. Hamilton ...
Harry Ross ...


For the ventriloquist Gabbo his wooden dummy Otto is the only means of expression. When he starts relying more and more on Otto, he starts going mad. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Musical | Romance







Release Date:

12 September 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Gabbo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Recording)


| (Multicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The dummy Otto was a hand carved basswood Frank Marshall figure. The same man who designed Edgar Bergen's famous characters Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. See more »


[first lines]
Mary: Oh, I see a move. Look - eight on the nine, and then your King comes up, and that plays a Queen.
Gabbo: Will you leave these cards alone? You think you can show me something?
See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Krusty Gets Kancelled (1993) See more »


I'm in Love with You
Written by Lynn Cowan and Paul Titsworth
Performed by Betty Compson and Donald Douglas
Also played in the background at the restaurant
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Insane Fun
24 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This film is very unique. It crosses a horror story about a mad ventriloquist with an early-talkie musical revue. Erich Von Stroheim chews up the scenery as he takes his lady-love (Betty Compson) for granted while interacting primarily with Otto, his wooden dummy. The musical interludes are eye-popping, particularly the "Web of Love" number which features chorus girls dressed as insects, complete with fright-wigs. Betty Compson does a good job as Mary, the lady-love of Gabbos' who finds happiness with another. Also in the cast is Marjorie "Babe" Kane, a carbon-copy of Helen Kane, who figures in several of the musical numbers. This film was not considered successful at the time of it's release, but it still is a lot of fun to watch today. The Library of Congress restoration of this film looks and sounds great, even if the original "Multicolor" is absent. Most people who like this film dislike the many musical numbers included. However, I feel they add to the Ziegfeld-type atmosphere the story is trying to represent. The songs themselves are quite good, and one must also remember that in the fall of 1929, when this film was released, musicals were all the rage. The huge success of MGM's "The Broadway Melody" made it standard for any film that hoped to be a success to include at least some music. This of course would backfire when, about a year after "Gabbo's" release, the public would stay away from musicals like the plague, due to overexposure. It's amazing that this production, which looks like some money was spent on it, was made by Sono-Art-Worldwide, a company which, in a few years would become Monogram Pictures after a merger with Rayart. One of Monogram's 1933 films, "The Girl From Calgary", would interpolate dance footage from "The Great Gabbo", underscored by some different music. Even the audience reaction footage would be used.

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