The Million Dollar Duck
|The Million Dollar Duck|
|Directed by||Vincent McEveety|
|Produced by||Bill Anderson|
|Written by||Ted Key
|Music by||Buddy Baker|
|Cinematography||William E. Snyder|
|Edited by||Lloyd L. Richardson|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$5.1 million (North America) (rentals)|
The Million Dollar Duck (also titled as The $1,000,000 Duck) is a 1971 Walt Disney Productions comedy film about a goose that lays golden eggs. It was directed by Vincent McEveety, and stars Dean Jones, Sandy Duncan and Joe Flynn.
The film centers on the family of a scientist named Albert Dooley (Dean Jones) who struggles to pay the bills. His wife, Katie (Sandy Duncan) gets a recipe for applesauce wrong and gives it to her husband to take to work for lunch, hoping it will help cut down on the budget. In a humorous chain reaction, the duck Albert is testing steals the applesauce after Albert has thrown it away in the trash, and then wanders into a radiation lab and becomes irradiated. Albert is ordered to get rid of the duck, so he figures he can give it to his son, Jimmy (Lee Montgomery) who has been wanting a pet, only to discover it now lays eggs with solid gold yolks.
In a Pavlovian manner, the duck, named "Charley" (despite being female), lays an egg when prompted by the barking of a dog. At first, the only ones who know of Charley's golden yolks are Albert, Katie, Jimmy and Albert's friend, Fred, but as they sell the yolks of gold, they gain the attention of a suspicious neighbor, a government bureaucrat from the US Treasury Department named Mr. Hooper (Joe Flynn), who starts spying on them (with typical Disney slapstick results such as falling off a tree branch when his wife gets angry) and ultimately convinces his boss, Rutledge (James Gregory), to get the duck after worldwide phone calls spread the rumor and Rutledge gets a phone call from President Richard Nixon to get the duck. Albert is affected by greed and no longer cares for his son, which saddens Jimmy. The Treasury Department officials (with Mr. Hooper) soon arrives at the house and orders them to turn over the duck. Jimmy, watching from upstairs, climbs out the window with Charley, and then rides off with a couple of teenage boys and their hot rod as the government officials try to capture the duck to prevent it from laying gold.
In the film's climax, Jimmy is suspended on a ladder between two parking garages, and Albert attempts to convince his son to grab his hand before the ladder falls. Jimmy tells his dad to go away, believing he only wants to save Charley, but when the ladder begins to break, he grows fearful and grabs his father's hand. They then leave the parking garage, but Albert is promptly arrested by the US Treasury Department officials. The film ends with the family in court, and the judge breaks an egg into a glass after Mr. Hooper (unsuccessfully) and then Albert (successfully) barks at the duck to prompt the laying of the egg, which surprisingly turns out to be an ordinary egg yolk, as the effect of the radiation had run out. The judge dismisses the charges on account of no proof of a duck laying golden eggs, and Albert tells the family the golden duck was nice while it lasted, but at least they can keep the duck for their pet, now realizing that his family is more important than wealth. The judge then advises Jimmy, "One word of caution, son. If it ever lays another gold egg, bury it, quick!" Albert then puts Jimmy on his shoulders and exits the courthouse into a crowd of cheering onlookers.
- Dean Jones as Albert Dooley
- Sandy Duncan as Katie Dooley
- Joe Flynn as Finley Hooper
- Tony Roberts as Fred Hines
- James Gregory as Rutledge
- Lee Montgomery as Jimmy Dooley
The Million Dollar Duck was one of three movies that film critic Gene Siskel walked out on during his professional career, the other two being the 1980 horror film Maniac and the 1996 comedy film Black Sheep. Roger Ebert described the film as "one of the most profoundly stupid movies I've ever seen". Scott Weinberg of DVD Talk criticised the depiction of Duncan's character, stating "Sandy Duncan...is asked to play a housewife who's easily as stupid as a stone. Throughout the entire flick she's about two steps up from mental retardation. And this stuff is played for laughs!" He also called The Million Dollar Duck "easily one of the Disney studio's very worst live-action family comedies. Ever".
- "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 46
- Broken Arrow / Black Sheep / Beautiful Girls (video). Siskel&Ebert.org. 1996. 6:24 minutes in. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
- "Million Dollar Duck : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- "$1,000,000 Duck :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 13 July 1971. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- Scott Weinberg, The Million Dollar Duck. 22 May 2005.Retrieved 13 August 2015.
- Official website
- The Million Dollar Duck at the Internet Movie Database
- The Million Dollar Duck at the TCM Movie Database