An oddball genre hybrid, made at the dawn of sound (1929). Erich von Stroheim plays a mad ventriloquist, visibly relishing every word of Ben Hecht’s arch dialogue; while he cracks up, his ex-wife rises to the top as a variety star, which provides the occasion for several very strange production numbers (originally in color). The direction, by James Cruze, is underwater slow, but there is something irresistible in the idea of a psychological thriller with music—this may have been the All That Jazz of its day.
The Great Gabbo
1 hour 32 min • 1929