The Great Gabbo (1929) is an American early sound film musical drama film directed by James Cruze, based on a story ("The Rival Dummy") by Ben Hecht and starring Erich von Stroheim and Betty Compson.

 

The movie follows brilliant ventriloquist "The Great Gabbo" (Stroheim) who, as he spirals down into madness, increasingly uses his dummy "Otto" as his only means of self-expression—an artist driven insane by his work.

Gabbo's gimmick is his astonishing ability to make Otto talk—and even sing—while Gabbo himself smokes, drinks and eats. 

 

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