Down 22,622 this week

The Great Gabbo (1929)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Musical, Romance  |  12 September 1929 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.3/10 from 471 users  
Reviews: 18 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.


, (uncredited)


(story), (continuity), 1 more credit »
0Check in

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive


10 Best Back-to-School TV Shows

Dust off your varsity jacket and get excited for fall with our list of the 10 best back-to-school TV shows.

Visit our Family Entertainment Guide

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 40 titles
created 01 Jun 2012
a list of 5182 titles
created 12 Oct 2012
a list of 9222 titles
created 25 Mar 2013
a list of 605 titles
created 05 Feb 2014
a list of 846 titles
created 2 months ago

Related Items

Search for "The Great Gabbo" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: The Great Gabbo (1929)

The Great Gabbo (1929) on IMDb 6.3/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Great Gabbo.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The rise of a showgirl, Gloria Hughes, culminating in a Ziegfeld extravaganza "Glorifying the American Girl".

Director: Millard Webb
Stars: Mary Eaton, Eddie Cantor, Helen Morgan
Greed (1924)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The sudden fortune won from a lottery fans such destructive greed that it ruins the lives of the three people involved.

Director: Erich von Stroheim
Stars: Gibson Gowland, Zasu Pitts, Jean Hersholt
Napoleon (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

From 1769 to 1821, Napoléon Bonaparte's life, loves and exceptional destiny but as seen through the eyes of Talleyrand, the cynic and ironic politician, who once was the Emperor of France's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Director: Sacha Guitry
Stars: Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jeanne Boitel, Pierre Brasseur
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

When a reporter claims that New York police are on the take letting the mob run its horse parlors at will, a shocked District Attorney Michael Norris decide to do something about it. Not ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Wendkos
Stars: Darren McGavin, Margaret Hayes, Warren Stevens
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

The inhabitants of Ganymede need to find mates from another world or they will become extinct. They soon discover a suitable breeding stock amongst the females of planet Earth.

Director: John Gilling
Stars: John Saxon, Maurice Denham, Patricia Haines
The Cocoanuts (1929)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During the Florida land boom, the Marx brothers run a hotel, auction off some land, thwart a jewel robbery, and generally act like themselves.

Directors: Robert Florey, Joseph Santley
Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Fred Martin, a reformed taxi driver is used by the police, to go undercover in order to help catch a gang of safe robbers, but things start to go wrong, when the police stakeout the wrong bank, and Fred finds himself alone with the crooks.

Director: Vernon Sewell
Stars: Jimmy Hanley, Lana Morris, Sonia Holm
Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A crazed scientist invents a serum that induces a catatonic state in whoever it is injected into. He uses the serum to paralyze his enemies, so that he can bury them alive.

Director: John H. Auer
Stars: Erich von Stroheim, Harriet Russell, Dwight Frye
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A millionaire's brain is preserved after his death, and telepathically begins to take control of those around him.

Director: George Sherman
Stars: Vera Ralston, Erich von Stroheim, Richard Arlen
Lucky Star (1929)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Mary, a poor farm girl, meets Tim just as word comes that war has been declared. Tim enlists in the army and goes to the battlefields of Europe, where he is wounded and loses the use of his... See full summary »

Director: Frank Borzage
Stars: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Two villains team up to steal some jewelry. The robbery goes wrong and an innocent man is shot.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kathleen Byron, Laurence Harvey, Sydney Tafler


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 »


Web of Love
Written by Lynn Cowan and Paul Titsworth
Performed by Betty Compson and Donald Douglas
Also sung in the finale, and played frequently in the background
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

An example of Epic Theater at its best. A thinkers musical comedy!
5 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Great Gabbo "The Great Gabbo" is one of the finest examples of American Communist Propaganda films of the early 1900's existent today. It is a master piece of film literature, when you consider the limitations of the technology of the day. Vitaphone, the technology used to cut a vinyl record of the speech or music as the action was filmed, was new and very expensive, and made film editing a nightmarish chore if not impossible.

The script employ's Epic Theater techniques taught by Bertolt Brecht. In this respect it is a thinker's film, the film forces you to think. From the very beginning to the end you are constantly quizzical about behavior, motivation and environment. This is a musical comedy, right? How and why is the title card segment at the beginning of film different from other "musicals". Meet the self-absorbed individualist Gabbo who never acknowledges others who help him gain fame, his ventriloquist dummy Otto, and his stage partner Mary.

We soon realize that Gabbo has very superstitious religious beliefs. While he does not perform a sign of the cross, we know that he operates under the fear of his destined fate from unseen mystical powers. For instance when Mary inadvertently places his hat upon the bed, Gabbo calls Mary a foul name saying "Don't you know that it is bad luck?" Mary, in response, lists a series of activities which might displease and bring about the wrath of an angry immortal. She is more practical stating, "We make our own bad luck." The comparative is the communist environment of the musical theater. Everyone works and does their part for the betterment of the show. Here, once Mary leaves Gabbo, she too climbs to the top and find success in her profession as a singer and dancer with her partner/husband Frank. Gabbo and Mary are both successes in their professions, who then is happier? Who is more honest in their success? Capitalism is treated as an impertinent side note to the values being discussed. Capitalism is the financier management of the show and it seeks gain through investing in both ideals.

The film contrasts individualism versus communism. Many reviews have missed the underpinning effort of the writers and directors to use epic theater, and there blatant agenda to use it to teach the values of communism. They often deride the films production numbers as being unpolished and lacking flair. I ask, how could a film made with the intent to teach communistic ideals express them more eloquently? The ideal of community is not a flawless world, but a world where everyone does what they can to contribute to the whole. Some dancers lag behind the others yet they are there doing there part. Some simply walk from one place to another. The stage is full, busy and the message is understood. The imperfect dance numbers, in the epic theater style, emphasize the communistic ideal not detract from it. Few people would dare be as direct today.

The sad thing about communism's failure is that without community all we have left is individualists who, like Gabbo, are only self-absorbed and care nothing for their neighbor, nor acknowledge supportive people.

This film is a treasure that should be studied over and over. There are so many messages you simply can not absorb them in one viewing.

Watch for Otto's "I'm laughing" song sequence, it is a precursor to Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry, Be Happy." An interesting comparison is with this film's theater community and with the community environment of Los Angeles in the modern movie "Crash." How are they the same? How are they different? How are messages of these two films different? How are they the same? Think about it.

If you don't own a copy of these films you should. I give "The Great Gabbo" two thumbs up and a black and blue stubbed toe. I guess I'm a little like Mary—accident prone. Oh and have a nice day. Be Happy!

14 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Gabbo Gabbo GABBO! julianrockz
Discuss The Great Gabbo (1929) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: