Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Million Dollar Duck

I seriously doubt that this dud cost $1,000,000

What's it about?

Tonight's nostalgic pic is "The Million Dollar Duck" (Disney, 1971). Hapless Professor Albert Dooley (Dean Jones) isn't happy.

"I'm not happy."

He's behind on his bills, his house is falling apart, his car is a clunker, and his wife, Katie (Sandy Duncan) seems to be trying to poison him with her home cooking.
Betty Crocker, she ain't.

He can't even afford to buy a puppy for his son, Jimmy (Lee Montgomery) let alone feed one.
"But dad, I'm pulling on your heartstrings!"

Things take a turn when one of his behavioral science experiments, a duck his contemporaries believe is stupid and weird, gets zapped in a radioactive experiment.
"This duck is stupid. And weird."


Bringing the duck home and giving it to Jimmy, who affectionately names the female duck "Charlie," Albert inadvertently discovers that the waterfowl has been gifted to lay eggs that have a solid gold yolk on command (the trigger is a dog barking).
"My precious!"

Enlisting the help of his friend, a semi-sleazy lawyer named Fred (Tony Roberts),
It's like a legal drama, for kids!

Albert must try to find a way to solve his monetary problems with his newfound windfall while avoiding the watchful eye of his unfriendly neighbor and U.S. Treasury Agent, Finley Hooper (played by Joe Flynn, who has been popping up in a lot of my reviews of late)

and his hardnosed boss, Rutledge (James Gregory).
"Ha ha ha! I'm so unlikable."

In summary

This is yet another goofy late 60s and early 70s film from the Walt Disney company.

Welcome to duck hell!

It has all the hallmarks of the time: Dean Jones, an animated intro credit, Dean Jones, a very low-budget production, Dean Jones, green screen matte effects, Dean Jones, an animal costar, Dean Jones, an ending car chase, Dean Jones, a family friendly moral of the story, Dean Jones, and all of it starring Dean Jones!
"Seat belts? Where we're going, we don't need... Seat belts!"

Interesting bit of trivia. This is the last movie filmed by Sandy Duncan before she had the surgery that cost her the sight in her right eye. I don't know why I find that interesting.

A lot of bad to go around

This movie is undeniably a bust. It doesn't have enough of the cute animals doing cute things that these films usually rely on: The duck is more of a prop than a character, the actual characters have little more to do than act in their own selfish self-interests, the moral of the story is painfully obvious from the first golden egg, and the whole thing seems like a pointless waste of your time.

Hitchcock's "Vertigo," this isn't.

Think I'm being harsh? This is allegedly one of the three films that famous movie critic Gene Siskel (a guy who watched THOUSANDS of films in his career) walked out on.
He probably didn't stay for the (tacked-on) car chase at the end.

You can watch it with your kids, but they will probably be bored any time the duck isn't on the screen -- there's just not a lot here to like.

"I'm radio*QUACK*tive, radio*QUACK*tive!"

Where can you see it?

"The Million Dollar Duck" is currently streaming on Disney+.

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