The Great Gabbo

An insane ventriloquist uses his dummy as a means to vent his hated vengeance.
The Great Gabbo
7 ratings
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Format:  DVD-R
sku:  ALP 4767D
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DVD Features:

  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 1 hours, 34 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Released: May 31, 2005
  • Originally Released: 1929
  • Label: Alpha Video
  • Packaging: Keep Case
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33

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Inspired by the dark short story "The Rival Dummy" by Ben Hecht, this uncanny 1928 drama stars Erich Von Stroheim (Hollywood's "The Man You Love To Hate") as the cruel egotistical ventriloquist, The Great Gabbo. Mary (Betty Compson), Gabbo's beautiful assistant, loves Gabbo and sees goodness within him, despite the torrent of abuse that he heaps upon her. Incapable of expressing any human warmth except through Otto, his wooden dummy, Gabbo drives Mary away. Gabbo's career surges upward bringing him fame and fortune as a Broadway headliner while his descent into insanity accelerates along with his twisted belief that Otto, his only companion, is truly alive. Mary reappears, but when Gabbo realizes that she isn't returning to be his lover, he becomes totally unhinged in a final spectacular burst of self-destructive madness.

Directed by James Cruze, famous for 1929's epic western The Covered Wagon, the film alternates the melodrama with musical numbers of the late Vaudeville era. Erich Von Stroheim's intense performance as Gabbo is the highlight of the picture, his first talkie. Born in Austria and coming to the United States in 1909, he began as a bit player working for D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, but his real interest was directing. As a director, his debut film Blind Husbands (1919) met with acclaim, but his film Queen Kelly (1928) starring Gloria Swanson, was shut down in mid-production for going over budget. He was brought into the production of The Great Gabbo for his marquee value. Von Stroheim continued to act for the rest of his life, forever typecast as a monocled, arrogant villain. In a strange twist paralleling his life, Von Stroheim's last performance was as Max Von Mayerling, the failed Hollywood director, to Swanson's Norma Desmond, in Sunset Boulevard (1950), bringing him his only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Product Description:

This bizarre drama/musical stars Erich von Stroheim as the volatile ventriloquist The Great Gabbo. Along with his dummy Otto, Gabbo has become a supremely successful act at a popular nightclub. Unfailingly cruel to his colleagues, Gabbo begins a sadistic relationship with one of the club's young ingenue. Unfortunately, Gabbo's self-imposed loneliness has led him to rely more and more on Otto, whom he begins to treat like a real person. Filled with grandly staged musical numbers and featuring a diabolical lead performance by von Stroheim, THE GREAT GABBO is one of the forgotten treasures produced by Hollywood during the early days of sound features.


This product is made-on-demand by the manufacturer using DVD-R recordable media. Almost all DVD players can play DVD-Rs (except for some older models made before 2000) - please consult your owner's manual for formats compatible with your player. These DVD-Rs may not play on all computers or DVD player/recorders. To address this, the manufacturer recommends viewing this product on a DVD player that does not have recording capability.
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Based on 7 ratings.
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Strange but strangely interesting Movie Lover: from Middle Village, NY US -- March, 27, 2009

Erich von Stroheim in a musical? Well, not exactly. He plays The Great Gabbo, a ventriloquist of almost magical talent and the story is told while he performs in a Broadway show. The show is filled with elaborate (and sometimes silly) pre Busby Berkeley type musical extravagances. Oddly, the film held my interest (despite the song and dance routine in a spider web and audience scenes that reminded me of stock-footage of th Monty Python Show) primarily because of von Stroheim's performance. The final few minutes of the film, as Gabbo unravels and Otto, his dummy, is carried around like a broken doll, is a pleasure to watch. I had originally rated this film at 2 1/2 stars but on reflecting, I increaed it to 3 1/2.

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 8,984
  • UPC: 089218476791
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

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Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC, Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion for films with a large audience. Let us know what you have.
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