The Great Gabbo (1929)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Musical, Romance  |  12 September 1929 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 488 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 16 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.


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(story), (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 <>

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 Recording)


| (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 »


Featured in Fractured Flickers: Episode #1.19 (1963) See more »


That New Step
Written by Lynn Cowan and Paul Titsworth
Performed by Marjorie Kane and chorus
Also performed as part of the finale
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Great Erich Von Stroheim!

This film about a ventriloquist who lives a self-imposed life of lonliness because of his personality is absorbing, different, and dated. Shortly produced after The Jazz Singer(1927), the film is an early talkie with all the characteristics of an early talkie. It has somewhat stilted stages, little camera movement, and most annoying, a bunch of Busby Berkley type musical numbers that have little to do with the plot. All that notwithstanding, the lead role of Gabbo, a man who lives to be successful no matter what it takes, who is willing to forsake personal happiness to achieve, who runs the scope of emotions in minutes, is played with gusto by that wonderful actor(and even greater director) Erich Von Stroheim. Von Stroheim uses all his European charm(and decadence) as the man who shares life and lives with and through his dummy Otto. There are no supernatural aspects about the relationship with Gabbo and Otto. The movie is in no way a horror picture(although very often advertised as such). It really is a story of the problems a man has exhibiting his emotions, living with others, and living with himself. Some of the scenes are very well-done, including the last shot as we see Gabbo avoid a ladder. The rest of the cast is effective with Betty Compson as a love interest doing a fine job, and Donald Douglas as a lead singer/romantic figure being absolutely absurd. If for no other reason, see the film to see Von Stroheim in action. There was no one like him.

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