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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2018 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
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The
Great Gabbo

(1929)

 

With Erich von Stroheim’s final feature film of the silent era, Queen Kelly (1928), having been shut down in midproduction, he took on an unusual starring role in an independently-produced full-sound film directed by the fallen director James Cruze.

Von Stroheim plays a mean vaudeville ventriloquist who pushes away the woman who loves him and immerses himself in conversations with his dummy. When the Great Gabbo achieves Broadway success and he again crosses pathes with his love, Gabbo must wrestle with his own neurotic illusions and her jealous singing partner. When his lover refuses to come back to him, Gabbo’s hard shell cracks to reveal the nut inside.

As was the case with several early sound films, The Great Gabbo is saddled with a number of average musical numbers (some of them silly, all of them fairly representative of late 1920s musical theatre). But the highlight of the film is von Stroheim’s slow-paced and quirky performance. — Carl Bennett

Kino on Video
2003 DVD edition

Blind Husbands (1919), color-toned black & white, 93 minutes, not rated,
with The Great Gabbo (1929), black & white, 96 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K246, UPC 7-38329-02462-8.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 4.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, no subtitles, 17 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
Release date: 10 June 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 9 / audio: 5 / additional content: 6 / overall: 7.

This DVD edition has been prepared from a 35mm restoration print prepared by the Library of Congress. The print appears to have been duplicated (for the most part) from the original nitrate negative, with the print’s excellent image detail and very broad range of greytones well-maintained in Kino International’s full-frame video transfer. On high-definition equipment, the disc renders a very filmlike image for a pleasing viewing experience.

As noted in the disc’s supplemental section, the restoration print features more footage than has been seen in theatrical prints and home video editions over the years, but musical numbers that were shot in the Multicolor color-film process are presented here in their surviving black & white form, and the “Ga-Ga Bird” production number is missing altogether as it is presumed lost.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD edition is also available directly from KINO LORBER.
Alpha Video
2005 DVD edition

The Great Gabbo (1929), black & white, 94 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP4767D, UPC 0-89218-47679-1.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, no subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $7.98.
Release date: 31 May 2005.
Country of origin: USA
This budget DVD edition has likely been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

You can assume that the film is presented with its original soundtrack. Yes?

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era ERICH VON STROHEIM films available on home video.
Erich von Stroheim filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
 
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