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The Great Gabbo (1929)

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 "The Rival Dummy"), (continuity) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Marjorie Kane ...
Babe (as Margie 'Babe' Kane)


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 <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Musical | Romance







Release Date:

12 September 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der große Gabbo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)


| (Multicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The "Gaga Bird" production number is presumed lost. Please check your attic. 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 »


Version of Souls in Conflict (1934) See more »


Icky (Lollipop Song)
Written by King Zany and Donald McNamee
Performed by Otto the dummy (voiced by George Grandee), with Erich von Stroheim
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

don't be silly, everyone knows!
26 May 2006 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Clunky solid gramophone sound and some sensational Ziegfeld stage numbers make this early talkie musical drama a real treat for viewers forgiving of 1929 movies. Vile schizophrenic ventriloquist brute, Von Stroheim, with his very creepy dummy (like the terrifying one in the DEAD OF NIGHT sequence with Michael Redgrave) seem somehow to be the toast of the stage. This 1929 showcase for both the technology of the day and the stage and screen stars rightly celebrated over the period are shown to be both fascinating and versatile as this film progresses. Other comments on this site will tell you the story and some criticize it's 1929 limits, but really THE GREAT GABBO is an excellent film of its day that rightly and clearly shows the force of Von Stroheim and the expert stage and screen dance entertainment popular in the 20s in the Ziegfeld sequences seemingly filmed right in front of a real stage. If you have seen THE BOYFRIEND the 1970 Ken Russell comedy you will get an idea of how fabulous THE GREAT GABBO must have looked in color. Most of the massive stage scenes are pale in my B/W copy and clearly are those sequences in Multicolour which the opening credits alert us to (be missing). Betty Boop sister Majorie Kane appears and most of the musical numbers are hilariously delightful, crowded with teens leaping about and bumping into each other in a great array of all sorts of fantasy costumes. The silliest and most enjoyable of which is a spider and fly number in which the above quote is hissed during a squabble in between verses. THE GREAT GABBO is a major find for students of 20s art deco, early talkie technology and very strong and effective acting. Von Stroheim must have been such a pain to Hollywood, a brute on screen and off. This film is full of wow! scenes. Highly recommended for anyone wanting further insight into the era. Other films worth seeing that add to the experience are GLORIFYING THE American GIRL, and THE 1929 SHOW OF SHOWS. The sound on my DVD copy is very good.

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