31 user 18 critic

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.


James Cruze, Erich von Stroheim (uncredited)


Ben Hecht (adapted from the story by), Hugh Herbert (dialogue)




Cast overview:
Erich von Stroheim ... Gabbo (as Eric Von Stroheim)
Betty Compson ... Mary
Donald Douglas ... Frank
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


Hated by all-his real soul spoke through the lips of a lifeless dummy (Print Ad- New York Evening Post, ((New York, NY)) 12 September 1929) See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Color sequence(s) have not survived, except in black and white. 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?
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Alternate Versions

Most, perhaps all, VHS and DVD releases of the film have the color sequences in black and white. See more »


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


Every Now and Then
Written by King Zany and Donald McNamee
Performed by Marjorie Kane and Donald Douglas
See more »

User Reviews

"....and Otto makes three"
29 April 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

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.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | German

Release Date:

12 September 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Gabbo See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric System)


Black and White | Color (Multicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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