Million Dollar Duck
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The studio held open auditions for the duck role, with Webfoot Waddle winning the part. Runners-up Carlos and Jennifer got to be stand-ins. The ducks were given the full Hollywood treatment, including their own drinking pails, lettuce, and chicken scratch, plus evenings and weekends free to rest floating around the Disney Studio pond.
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TRIVIA & BEHIND THE SCENES: Directed by Vince McEveety. Dean Jones returns for his seventh movie with Disney. Screenplay by by Roswell Rogers, based an original story by Ted Key. Title sequences featured animation by Disney animator Ward Kimball. Filmed at the Walt Disney studios lot. The studio announced auditions at the time for the key roles as... the duck. People from all around brought their ducks, and Disney chose 3 of them to play the part. They were treated like royalty while there, and had recreational swims in the pond at one of the outdoor berms. Sandy Duncan received a Golden Globe nomination as "New Star of the Year", and a nomination from the Globes for "Actor in a Leading Role (Musical or Comedy)" went to Dean Jones. Running time: 92 minutes.
Released theatrically on June 30, 1971 with a G rating. It aired on the "The Wonderful World of Disney" television show in 1974, '79, and '82. During the climactic scene when Dooley is chasing the duck, we see a Volkswagen Beetle. It has the same license plate number Herbie's from Disney's "The Love Bug", Dean Jones most popular movie ever.
The current release on DVD of this movie has not been remastered, does not seem as if the image or sound has been cleaned up. No extras on the DVD.
Dean Jones, in my opinion, one of the greatest actors ever, stars as a research scientist, husband, and father who is barely scraping by on his meager income. That is, until one of his lab animals, a misfit duck, eats a strange mixture and wanders into another lab, accidentally becoming radiated. An alchemist's dream come true, the duck then begins to lay eggs with solid gold yolks! The scientist, whose name is Albert Dooley, becomes aware of this, as does his lawyer friend, Fred (Tony Roberts), who becomes his financial partner. With the help of Albert's dizzy wife, Katie, the Dooleys' financial situation starts looking up. But not so successfully blossoming is Albert's relationship with his young son, Jimmy, who is becoming invisible due to his father's gold fever. Another, some would say more serious problem comes up too, as the gold buyers Mrs. Dooley has been selling the egg yolks to decide to inform the government of their strange new acquisitions. Soon, the Dooley's have the U.S. Treasury Department after them, and there's no telling how things will turn out in the end. Though, being a Disney comedy, it's safe to assume it will all work out alright.
That's the story, but how is the movie? Well, like I said, I LOVE it! It's cheesy at times, sure. It has a few moments when the script is just terrible. One scene that comes to mind is when the lawyer/friend character of Fred basically feels he has to explain the joke he is acting out. Something to the effect of, "What am I doing? A grown man with a law degree crawling around on his hands and knees looking for a duck that lays golden eggs?!" Yeah, it's funnier if you don't try to tell us it's funny, Fred. Nevertheless, the fantasy of acquiring your own money/gold-making machine, so to speak, is so universal that it is easy to get lost in the corny story with its corny characters. Plus, the little, gold egg yolks just look so cool! Sandy Duncan as Katie Dooley may be so stupid that it's brain numbing, but she's still very entertaining (heck of a bod back then too), and ya gotta love Joe Flynn (playing a nosy-neighbor/government stoolpigeon here) doing what he does best in all these classic Disney 70's comedies. Is "Million Dollar Duck" a silly film? Undoubtedly. Is it delightful? Yes. Granted, there is a nostalgia factor for me. I loved the film on the Disney Channel growing up. However, I did recently show this one to someone else who had never seen it before, an adult, and that person enjoyed it greatly too. If you LIKE silly, pretty wholesome comedies with a slight fantasy element in the mix, this is a great one, and I recommend the other Disney comedies of the seventies (and earlier) too, especially the Dexter Riley films, the Herbie the Love Bug films, and the Shaggy Dog and Shaggy D.A.! They're all great fun!
A final word on the DVD itself. Like many (or should I say most?) Disney live-action DVD releases, this DVD is completely barebones. It's not in widescreen, but of course, the proper framing of Disney classics is often in question, and this is one that doesn't seem to be losing much picture to whatever cropping might have been done. So, yeah, not much else to say about it. All you get here is the movie, but it's still a must for my collection.
Everything from that Eugene character to that farmer who demanded "Hep me get these ducks back in the pen!" LOL! Too funny.
If you're wanting a little 'value added' with Italian and German dubs (ie. learning those langs and want to hear familiar dialog by native speakers), and have a multi region or Region 2 DVD player, search amazon.de for "Die Millionen-Dollar-Ente." You can select whether you want to hear the movie with English, Italian or German speech before you play the movie.
Most people in America don't realize how enriching their DVD experience can be, since the industry only bundles the english track on the discs sold here. You MUST have a "Region Free" or "Region 2" (sold in Europe & UK) to play the German DVD. Thank the movie industry for wanting to control what you watch and how you watch it. (And to think of the hundreds of dollars Americans spend on tape sets to hear dialog by native speakers in another language.)
I rate this one an 8 1/2 of 10 on the "Rewatchability" scale.