The Great Gabbo (1929)

Article #464 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-22-2002
Posting date: 11-15-2002

A ventriloquist splits with his assistant in the early days of their act, and then each becomes successful independently, and then they meet each other again.

It sounds more like a soap opera than a horror movie, doesn’t it? That’s because it is; despite the fact that Erich Von Stroheim (as Gabbo) talks to his dummy Otto as if he were real, and that madness plays a certain role in the proceedings, it is only horror in the slightest of ways. There also isn’t much of a plot, and it’s stretched out over an hour and a half with lots of musical numbers tossed in, some of which are scarier than anything else in the movie (particularly one involving the dancers dressed up as flies in a giant web). Stroheim is always fun to watch, as usual, being just as unlikeable as you’d expect him to be. Most of the best scenes are at the end, but there is a lovely sequence in the middle where he holds a kindly conversation with his dresser (in German with no subtitles), and then turns mean again at the drop of a hat. Still, this may be a long, hard road unless you’re partial to big Hollywood musical numbers.


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