#126) Theodore Case Sound Test: Gus Visser and His Singing Duck (1925)
OR “Duck and a Cover”
Directed by Theodore Case
Class of 2002
The Plot: The title says it all. Gus Visser helps test out Case’s new sound film by singing “Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me”, with the assistance of a duck.
Why It Matters: The NFR admits this is “[o]ne of the Registry’s more unusual entries”, and includes a historical essay by UC Davis Professor Scott Simmon.
But Does It Really?: I…guess? It’s an early sound film, so technically it has historical significance, but…there weren’t any other films to choose?
Everybody Gets One: Theodore Case is one of the early pioneers in sound film, creating the Movietone sound system in the early ‘20s, and testing this technology by filming vaudeville performers. Unfortunately very little information is known about vaudeville performer Gus Visser, and even less information about the duck.
Wow, That’s Dated: This is one of those early sound films where you really can’t understand what the lyrics are. The aforementioned essay attempts to translate.
- Now that’s a hair part!
- If this act were around today I don’t think it would get past that weird new version of “The Gong Show”.
- Wait until PETA sees this.
- That song again is “Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me”; music by Con Conrad, lyrics by Sidney Clare.
In lieu of the typical “Legacy” section, I’m just going to list classic films that were added to the Registry AFTER “Gus Visser and His Singing Duck”:
- All the President’s Men
- Ben-Hur (The 1959 Version)
- The Birds
- Blazing Saddles
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Cool Hand Luke
- Dances with Wolves
- Dirty Harry
- The French Connection
- Mary Poppins
- Miracle on 34th Street
- The Quiet Man
- A Raisin in the Sun
- The Silence of the Lambs
- 12 Angry Men
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Young Frankenstein