The Million Dollar Duck (1971) Poster

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Not great, but funny if not taken too seriously
Atreyu_II17 June 2009
This movie, also known by the alternative title "The $1,000,000 Duck", isn't clearly one of Disney's most solid films. It's not a great movie, but has its fun and originality.

The movie stars Dean Jones and Joe Flynn, both from "The Love Bug". The movie happens to be about an animal, but here's where its biggest originality is: it's not about a cat or a dog or other familiar animals in movies, but a duck! The duck is a cute and likable chap, but very strange. After wandering into a radiation lab, the duck becomes irradiated and many unusual things happen to it, such as to lay golden eggs. Before that, it was already a poor dumb duck.

Dean Jones portrays Professor Albert Dooley, the guy who takes the duck home to offer his son. His son becomes attached to the duck. But because of the whole golden eggs story, Albert Dooley becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming rich thanks to that, proving how people can get so easily greedy for money.

Then again, it's not a super movie, but has its moments, such as Dooley's giant car polluting the air like that and doing those engine noises when it stops (very much like Uncle Buck's car) and some moments with Joe Flynn. I also liked that nice and beautiful yellow sports car.

Almost at the end of the movie, there is a sequence that is all about a chase. The whole sequence is really nuts yet hilarious! While watching it, I couldn't help myself thinking «Damn, what a chase!».
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One of Disney's Best
Seattle1018 February 2012
An absolutely excellent movie.

I cannot, for anything, understand any criticism of this fine film, such as Mr. Siskel, walking out on it, as he did this for only three movies, out of all the thousands he watched for reviewing.

Any movie, I say, any movie, with Joe Flynn, is great, and you add in Edward Arnold, and the solid Disney characters similar to those of the Dexter Riley era, and you have a smash hit.

The plot, what is wrong with that? The last I knew, Disney was known for fantasy, and family tales, with a happy ending.

Dean Jones, as usual, is superb, Sandy Duncan, great, as his loving and supportive, sweet wife. And Tony Roberts, great- punchy, yet a friend to the professor (Jones).

Concerning the portrayal of sweet, middle-class American family life, what is wrong with that? Nothing. Just because it does not look like life of today, is no reason to knock it, plus it provides deep joy for those who grew up in that era (1971), especially those who did so, in the Southland, where this gem was filmed.

Happy ending, with good lessons learned, a fine film.
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Amusing 70s comedy fine for kids of all ages
John (opsbooks)23 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In Australia this comes as a 2-pack DVD, partnered with 'Those Calloways'.

Early on I didn't think it was going to amount to much, but as the movie unfolds, the good supporting cast and above-average script kept me watching and soon had me laughing. There's a car (or should it be goose?) chase reminiscent of the fire-ladder truck sequence in an Abbott & Costello vehicle of the 1940s.

This is a fine movie for children and even adults should find a laugh or two. If you liked 'The Love Bug', you'll probably enjoy this movie as well.
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Made Disney more then $1,000,000
de_niro_20014 April 2001
As a kid in the early seventies I remember clips from $1,000,000 duck being shown on Disney Time and Screen Test. I think it's a head nod to a certain bad tempered duck who made Disney more then $1,000,000. It's interesting to see Tony Roberts in something not directed by Woody Allen. I first saw it in full in the mid -seventies when the BBC showed it on Christmas Eve (that was the days when Disney was very grudging about their stuff being shown to anything other than a full cinema audience). A good film, a satire on greed and the American Dream.
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Great movie that brings out precious old memories
amer900120 February 2014
I first watched this movie when I was 10 years old, I have never watched it since! that's 23 years ago. I watched it again yesterday, it came back to me fast! And since this movie successfully brought back the memory and feel of those wonderful old days, I can't give it less than 10/10.

The story is simple, to save the duck "Charley" Professor Albert Dooley takes home this duck from the lab, not knowing that its a gifted duck, a different duck. The rest? Watch the movie, its the perfect family movie.

I think "The Million Dollar Duck" is one of the best movies Disney have ever made, it is a classic, a rare gem.
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Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan make a good team, but this Disney effort is for the birds
moonspinner5527 February 2007
Suburban comedy-fantasy from Disney, a spin on "The Goose That Layed The Golden Egg", itself drops a big gold-plated bomb: modern day family, 'kooky' for easy laughs, discover their pet duck lays solid gold eggs (the Mrs. actually takes one of these eggs to the bank, hoping to deposit it into her account!). Cartoonish, out-of-touch tale eventually turns into a queasy dissection of greed and how money rips families apart (fathers and sons, in particular). Full of long-in-the-tooth hippies and square adults, the picture is aimed at kids but probably won't keep many in their seats. Although officially titled "The Million Dollar Duck", the film was advertised in print and on television as "1,000,000 Duck". It's a wasted effort either way, despite promising chemistry between stars Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan. *1/2 from ****
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Not even good sounding brass
bkoganbing16 January 2015
I'm sure not too many of the kids or even the parents that took their kids to see The Million Dollar Duck back in 1971 would realize that the British film Mister Drake's Duck was the inspiration for this Disney film. Nevertheless the British film of 1951 and the Disney film of 1971 are remarkably similar. Only the British had Mister Drake's Duck lay uranium eggs whereas this Disney duck lays gold ones after a bit radiation exposure and a concoction that Sandy Duncan makes and gets fed to the duck.

The British film was not one of their better comedies, but Mister Drake's Duck had some good moments and nice satire on the government of Great Britain in those post war Labour Days. This one just has a lot of good players looking very silly.

Two of them are stars Dean Jones and Sandy Duncan as a research scientist and his wife who are barely scraping by financially. The duck in question is part of a research project conducted by head scientist Jack Kruschen. When the duck flunks the intelligence test Kruschen gives him to Jones and his young son Lee Harcourt Montgomery becomes attached to it also.

Of course when it starts laying those golden yolks inside the egg at that point Jones and car pooling neighbor Tony Roberts think they've hit the leprechaun's pot. But then in 1971 America as now ownership of gold is most restrictive. Not to mention that ducks that can just squat and those orbs can ruin the monetary structure of the world. That sends neighbor Joe Flynn into action who works for the Treasury Department and Flynn's supervisor James Gregory.

The Million Dollar Duck has far more silliness than genuine humor in it. Far from gold, it's not even good sounding brass.
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I would have loved this when I was 6 years old...
Islandia16 February 2004
...too bad I'm not 6 any more.

Not one of Disney's better efforts. If you want to watch an enjoyable

movie, this isn't it - it's just too silly. Not that I have anything against

silly movies, but this one isn't funny-silly, it's just silly.

It has the usual cast of Disney stock characters: the kind but

flawed - in this instance avaricious - male hero, the giddy and

empty-headed female hero, the cute kid, the nosy neighbours and

the stupid officials. Oh, and don't forget the cute animal, this time a

goose that has about as much personality as a blank page.

It may be possible to make a good movie about a goose that lays

golden eggs - and this isn't it.
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Dated, silly stuff from Disney with a few laughs
bob the moo19 April 2003
Hard pressed scientist Albert Dooley has little money to spend as his work with animals isn't proving as profitable as he hoped it would be. However one day his worthless duck is exposed to high levels of radiation. Taking the duck home with him he finds that it can be stimulated to lay eggs – eggs made of solid gold. The more eggs it lays the more Albert becomes consumed with it and also the more attention the sudden increase in gold deposits in the local reserves draws from the Treasury Department.

This film is a good example of the films Disney made around this time, in the same way as animation with songs and smart-ass sidekicks are of the 90's. This is typical of the period but not the best example of when it works well. The plot is goofy and sets the tone for the sense of humour but it isn't used very well. Instead of laughs it really only produces energy and `wackiness'. There are a few laughs but not many. Most of the action has dated badly – with clichéd hippies, All-American happy families and forced physical routines.

Jones is OK, accustom as he is to roles such as this. He carries it well but the subject has less charm than some of his better films (Herbie for one). Of the rest of the cast only Tony Roberts really sticks in the mind as he has almost all of the good lines. The duck is cool though!

Overall this is a passable family film but it will not be `great' for any member of the family. There are better Disney films out there from this period – this one just lacked a certain spark to make it work better.
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Disney period family comedy with slight spoofing
SimonJack20 March 2018
"The Million Dollar Duck" is a silly but fun fantasy comedy. In spite of some critics' disdain for such movies - if they are for kids (they don't seem to mind the silly adult films). This one was pleasing enough for kids and adults. Disney wasn't the only studio that saw a market for such comical films mostly during the 1960s through 1980s.

The adult humor is here as well, but it may not register with many in 21st century audiences. Indeed, this film shows something of American culture that has changed. Through the middle of the last century - after WW II and well into the 1970s, one of the staples of humor was the Internal Revenue Service and government taxes. People of all stripes, but mostly common, everyday folks and hometown businessmen complained about government taxes. One couldn't go into a bar, barbershop, cafe or drug store and not hear someone lamenting the government tax burden. Government employees indeed were not very favorably regarded, whether with the IRS or not.

One suspects that the culture change by the late 20th century is what brought an end to such commonplace disdain. The transformation to mostly two-income households had lifted many more people above the subsistence level. So, most families spend more and can afford more things. Ergo, less complaint about Uncle Sam taking too much.

Still, a college research professor in 1971 should have made a sufficient salary to support a family of three fairly comfortably. But, not so in this film. The name of his office on the door to Albert Dooley's (Dean Jones) lab reads, "Psycho Bio Research Laboratory." All of the cast are good in their roles. Sandy Duncan is funny early on as the slightly dingy Katie Dooley. Watching her make applesauce in the kitchen is a hoot. And Dean Jones's reaction is hilarious.

James Gregory is very funny as the stuffy Treasury head. And, Edward Andrews plays the worried, angst-filled representative of the Federal Reserve Bank, Morgan, superbly. Tony Roberts is especially good as the crafty lawyer neighbor and friend who can't take his own advice. If one watches closely, there's no little amount of spoofing in this film. Not just about government agents, but lawyers and others as well.

One of the humorous criticisms I can recall from around that time had to do with government grants. One instance went something like this - while some people were out of work, others were homeless, and small businesses were struggling to keep going, the government awarded a $140,000 grant to study the mating habits of frogs. I wonder if Albert Dooley's place of employment wasn't intended as a little jab at government along those lines.

This film isn't packed with laughter scenes, or with witty lines or silly situations. It has a little bit of each, and should bring a smile to most kids and adults even well into the 21st century.

In some places, the movie is slow. And a vehicle chase scene with Jones hanging on to a utility truck ladder is quite old. It had been done in so many films before that it just doesn't seem funny this time. Here are some favorite lines.

Katie Dooley, "Jimmy, don't bother your father with that now. He's got little enough on his mind as it is."

Jimmy Dooley, "Mr. Hooper next door... he has a dog. He can afford to feed it. It's a great big one." Albert Dooley, "Mr. Hooper next door works for the U.S. Treasury and they have all our money. He could afford a giraffe."

Finley Hooper, "I wish that fool professor made enough money so I could investigate him."

Dr. Gottlieb, "Excuse me. I have to go recheck the IQ of this chimp - a hundred and forty, higher than mine."

Fred Hines, "Look Al, sweetheart. I'm only trying to save you money. I mean by making me a partner, you'll save paying me all those exorbitant lawyer's fees."
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