The Million Dollar Duck (1971)

Dean Jones, who appeared in every single movie the Walt Disney Company made from 1965-1975, stars as a scientist who is trying to teach animals stuff. For reasons never adequately explained, he is fixated on trying to teach an obviously dull-witted duck how to do something. His boss ridicules him for this, but once you get a gander at Dean’s home life, you begin to understand why he feels a duty to try and help the brain damaged of the animal kingdom.

His wife, Sandy Duncan, is one of those dimwitted wives who’s always spending hubby’s meager salary on clothes and hats and stuff and then trying to save money by making homemade apple sauce.

It goes without saying that the wind blows the recipe book to a different page when Sandy isn’t looking and she blindly follows its commands to put mustard into the recipe, despite the fact that even Dean’s moron duck at work would know that you don’t put mustard in apple sauce.

This provides us with one of our few amusing moments when she makes Dean taste test her bilious concoction and he’s forced to tell her that it’s really good even though he looks like he’s about to cry. That guy has being married to a dingbat down pat!

Along with his worthless wife, he also has a cry baby son that we wish Dean would strangle and dump in the lime pit they surely have at the lab for disposing of all those chimps when their experiments go awry.

Even though he knows his old man is barely making ends meet fondling waterfowl at work and has to endure the brain dead chatter of his skinny-ass wife, he constantly badgers Pops into paying a surly neighbor kid fifty bucks for some crappy puppy.

Once the duck flunks out of animal college though, Dean brings it home and tells his kid (Jimmy) to meet his really new, exciting, and loving pet, a dumb, stinky duck. Jimmy whines, but almost immediately names it Charley and it’s off to the crabby neighbor’s pool for some hi-jinks with the rowdy dog next door.

And while the extended car chase that closes out the film isn’t as great as say, the extended car chase that closes out The Gnome-Mobile you don’t really mind since you get Dean Jones, a dog, a duck, and a mean neighbor all in the pool at one time or another splashing, shouting and sputtering around.

But wasn’t this mallard supposed to be pooping out Faberge eggs or something? Well, it turns out that every time someone barks at this duck at just the right pitch, it lays an egg, but not just any egg, but an egg with a golden yolk! This is because shortly before Charley got himself kicked out of school he wandered into the radiology department and got himself a dose of gamma rays or was bitten by a radioactive spider or something.

Dean makes this startling discovery about his duck’s new super power one night when he’s in the back yard burying the eggs that the duck had laid. I had no clue what Dean was doing burying those eggs. The only thing I could think of was that he was trying to grow an egg tree.

Once Dean and Sandy start selling their gold eggs at local refineries (I imagine you just look them up in the yellow pages), the government catches wind of all this and decides that they need to have this magic duck for national security reasons! Can’t have someone destabilizing the gold markets now, can we?

After the big car chase involving a dune buggy, a cherry picker, and Dean’s neighbor, Dean saves his kid from falling to his death and realizes that some things are more important in life than a duck whose powers are going to wane depending on the half-life of the radioactive isotope that it’s been irradiated with.

Dean ends up on trial for something or other and the case gets dismissed when Charley is unable to lay any more golden eggs.

I didn’t mind Dean all that much in this and he looked like if given some decent material, he could do a credible job of looking befuddled by freakish animal-oriented happenings. There’s no hope for Sandy Duncan though. Has she ever not been annoying?

The movie also suffers from being not terribly imaginative in its use of this duck and its predicament. Charley never did anything more than get carried around by Jimmy or Dean and I kept waiting for something a little more to happen than to have Dean’s neighbor try to take the duck into protective custody.

The montage where Sandy was selling the eggs wasn’t interesting and felt like padding and the scenes that took place at the Treasury Department were likewise a waste of time.

Tony Roberts, who has been in something like six Woody Allen movies, gets some sly moments in as the lawyer buddy of Dean’s who counsels Dean not go spending money and attracting attention all the while showing up with a new suit, briefcase, and flashy sports car himself.

As it is though, these moments are way too few and far between and the lack of the duck doing much of anything make this one much more of a chore to sit through than is acceptable for these old wacky-animal Disney movies starring Dean Jones.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

One thought on “The Million Dollar Duck (1971)

  1. Well, I enjoyed it and so has the rest of my family.

    Dooley wanted Charlie to pass his tests because he knew the consequences if he failed and was compassionate towards him. Also he wanted his boss to believe his tests were being successful so he would stop berating him for spending so much on the duck.

    He buried the eggs because there was nothing else to be done with them. He assumed they wouldn’t hatch because of the duck being radiated and didn’t think they would be safe to eat for the same reason.

    It would be easy enough to locate gold refineries. Dooley and Fred have the resources.

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