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  • "This is the Circus of Dr. Lao. We show you things that you don't know. Oh, we spare no pains and we spare no dough, but we're going to give you one helluva show!"

    And the Good Doctor certainly did, thanks to the boundless imagination of producer-director George Pal, the cutting-edge script from Twilight Zone veteran Charles Beaumont, and of course MGM's remarkably talented makeup wizard, William Tuttle, whose efforts for this film earned him a Special Achievement Oscar, long before Best Makeup ever became the more permanent category it is these days.

    The story, based on the book by Charles Finney, takes place at the cusp of the early 1910's. The setting is a small Arizona town named Abilone, whose inhabitants are facing a crisis that threatens the overall future of the town. The greater crisis, however, lies in the townsfolk's own humanity, and the balance of our story follows Dr. Lao and his Circus as they transform that crisis into a better understanding.

    At the heart of the town's battle to survive is the personal conflict pitting newsman Ed Cunningham (John Ericson) against town shyster Clinton Stark (Arthur O'Connell). Only the intervention of the Circus will permit them to come to terms with who they really are, as opposed to who they should become. Ed has also fallen in love with Angela Benedict, the town librarian (Barbara Eden), and must confront his own passions for her while covering Dr. Lao's Circus.

    But when Angie's young son Mike (Kevin Tate) befriends Dr. Lao, the film is strengthened with its greatest wisdom, one that is best explored when the entire family watches this film. "The whole world is a circus if you learn to look at it the right way," the seven-millennia-old Dr. Lao reminds his new friend. "Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust, but a mystery, a miracle, right there in your hands --- every time you stop to think, 'I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!' --- every time such a thing happens, Mike, only then are you part of the Circus of Dr. Lao."

    Even today, I still shed a tear when I see this film, especially during the scene in which Lao summons Merlin the Magician to perform for the good folks of Abilone. Most of them have pretty much lost their ability to believe in magic. But not Mike Benedict. How can you not be moved to tears when you see Merlin tenderly embracing the lad, to thank him for having believed in the wonder of Magic?

    The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is one of the few quintessential examples of the astounding range of Tony Randall's acting versatility.... a versatility we will most certainly miss.... and most certainly remember.

    As my Wizardly alter ego Blackwolf will tell you, that one scene --- Merlin's magic show --- holds a special place in the hearts of all Magic-users. With the news of Tony Randall's death having just gone out over the wires, I think fans of Dr. Lao will want another look at this remarkable little film that reminds us all how important it is to take a look at ourselves and our future. This is Dr. Lao's greatest feat, and to accomplish it, he tells the tale of "The Fall of the City" to the townsfolk of Abilone. Using stock footage from George Pal's Atlantis: The Lost Continent, interspersed with new footage featuring the Dr. Lao adult cast performing double duty as various Atlantean inhabitants, and the awesome strains of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor booming in the background, "The Fall of the City" sequence is a masterpiece of drama, and an inspiring reminder that life is worth the battle so long as you learn something from it.

    Overall, The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is that rare curiosity of a movie, the kind that has something to say, and says it eloquently without preaching or sensationalizing its subject matter. We should all thank Tony Randall for having taken on this unique, one-of-a-kind filmmaking challenge. That, I think, is why we will miss him most of all.
  • There aren't many movies like "7 Faces of Dr. Lao." It's an amazing feast for the eyes and the mind. Tony Randall plays the title character, Dr. Lao, the ringmaster of a magical circus that comes to the troubled town of Abalo. Not only does he play that role, but several attractions at the circus, creatures and characters of legend. (He even provided the voice-over for the trailer!) The circus not only provides entertainment, but also teaches the residents of Abalo a few lessons. At times, the story is campy, and some of the special effects are cheap (about as good as could be expected for 1964!). But it also produces food for thought, and makes you think about the magic of everyday life. It's one trip to the circus you won't soon forget!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'll start off by letting you know,I'm not going to re-hash the story in my review. Everyone's pretty much covered it,so I'll just hit what were the highlights for me. First of all,I grew up with "The Odd Couple" reruns in the early 1980s,on channel 5 here in Phoenix,AZ. I loved what Tony & Jack did together. So I was sad when I heard about Tony's passing and was compelled to read Mr. Klugman's book "Tony and Me".

    In the book,Jack recommends seeing,"The 7 faces Of Dr. Lao",calling it "a rare gem". He is certainly correct. I had never even heard of or seen this movie anywhere,anytime or anyplace in my life,which I find odd. Anyhow,I think what sets a person up to watch this movie is you think it's going to be another typical "western". (It couldn't be anyway,it's set in the early 1900's).

    With Lao's riding in on a horse with a goldfish bowl in the saddle,you know it's going to be a strange trip. I was glad to see that Tony Randall got to speak in normal English and not just as the stereotyped Chinaman. For a movie filmed in 1963,it has great ideas and daring scenes.

    Scenes like the one with Barbra Eden and "Pan" the God of Joy. As someone stated,for this era,it's a pretty racy scene. Especially since in most films long ago,you rarely saw a woman demonstrate her "desires" like that. Other scenes are Merlin the Wizard,who ends up letting down his audience but then again they were being impossible with him,so maybe he did it on purpose? Who knows.

    The scene with our resident villain and serpent who resembles him is a great character assassination on the part of said serpent. The whole scene is hilarious but true. Some people think too highly of themselves. That fact is later set in stone when he gets his fortune read by Appollonius.

    Although depressing and very surprising,Appollonius' brutal honesty in reading futures is what makes the two scenes with that character compelling. He's not catering to their egos or whims,he's "cursed' to tell the absolute truth. I love how Tony R. submerges himself into these characters!

    The "Medusa" scene probably would have scared me if I were a kid but it's still a bit of an uncomfortable thought,being turned to stone. (At least Medusa shut up that loud mouthed woman!) Seeing Mr. Randall in that make up...sort of like Boy George 20 years before-hand. The second night of Dr. Lao's circus,with the overhead "visualiztion" is great too. I love how the scene goes black and they all wake up in the town hall. Ready to vote to sell or save their town.

    Granted,the special effects in the film are a product of their time but since it's fantasy,it really doesn't take anything away from the film. In fact,when the sea-serpent attacks,it's no less exciting for not being "computer animated".

    I mostly just like the honesty of the characters. These aren't your average movie characters. They are very much like real people of that era. After watching this,I can't believe it wasn't even considered for a "Best Picture" Oscar. "My Fair Lady" a better film? I think not.

    Find "Lao" wherever you can,I guarantee,it'll be worth it.
  • This movie is an unsung masterpiece with alternate realities transformed by Director George Pal. Randall's talents were ever used to better advantage. The clever inside-out look of town-as-dysfunctional-family juxtaposed against Dr. Lao's circus frames the satire perfectly. Arthur O'Connell and John Ericson are marvelous as Dr. Lao's opponents for the town's soul.
  • There's a proverb somewhere that states that youth is wasted on the young.One might similarly feel that the wisdom of fairy tales,folklore,and fantasy are wasted on children.While I,for one would hesitate to go that far,I feel that the messages contained in this film,like so many other classic children's stories,are best understood in an articulate fashion by adults.Kids will unconsciously and intuitively pick up the meanings,but it requires more maturity and life experience to fully appreciate what's going on here.So,here ends my pontificating,and begin the review.The plot with Arthur O'Connell trying to take over the town is a simple,relatively benign framework to introduce the real story;the necessity of looking at ourselves,our flaws,our foibles,and the illusions we need to protect ourselves,and to keep on living.And the circus of Dr.Lao does provide that chance,in a gentle and compassionate way.We can complain about the dated quality of the special effects,but don't forget,this was 14 years before Star Wars.The villains are a couple of stupid oafs who are easily disposed of in a benevolent fashion,and the other characters are shown the ways in which they stunt their own development,and then are given the chance to change IF THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO!(Let's face it,some of them decide to stay the same.)Randall gives a tour de force performance as the circus cast(although I believe that stuntman Janos Prohaska actually did the Abominable Snowman)and the true development of Merlin,from doddering has-been to capable miracle worker is am impressive display of character creation and sustenance.(I've always wondered if the bagpipes accompanying the growth of the Loch Ness Monster was some sort of inside joke.)This is the kind of film that the entire family should see together;everyone could get something out of it.
  • Woah...

    I just saw this by chance. If you have the chance to see it, by all means don't pass it up. This is an extremely bizarre movie, but contains a few scenes of absolute brilliance. You just have to give it a chance.

    Considering that it was made in 1964, it's really a masterpiece of "modern" cinema. Granted, by today's standards it is at times a little corny or dated, but overall it holds up.

    You simply cannot miss this if it comes along on cable. There is nothing else quite like it.
  • "The whole world is a circus, if you know how to look at it." The inhabitants of an old western town are being terrorized by a corrupt mayor and his cronies. Only a handful of people are brave enough to fight back, until a strange old Chinese man appears in town and opens up a circus. I grew up watching this movie. It contains excellent lessons about life, magic, fighting for what you believe in, and love. The scene with Merlin makes me cry without fail every time I watch it. This is something I intend to raise my children on. The moral message is strong without being preachy or adhering to any religious preference.
  • I saw this film again yesterday, just when I needed to. I was a bit depressed and the film, with its essentially Taoist philosophy, picked me up. Is Dr. Lao really Lao Tsu, famous Taoist immortal? Maybe, maybe not. What matters here though is the message that the movie gives, and the charm with which it delivers this. There is a quote from the film that sums it all up:

    "The world is a circus if you look at it the right way. Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see not the dust but mystery, a marvel, there in your hand. Every time you stop and think, 'I'm alive. And being alive is fantastic.' Every time such a thing happens, you are part of the circus of Dr. Lao."

    Go see this film, but not more than once in a while. Its message can be considered a bit "corny" by today's standards, but still has merit when taken at face value.
  • I hadn't seen – or even heard of – this film ever before…And I think that goes for many film fans with me. That's an awful shame, since this neat little film deserves some praising. It's playful, original and moralizing feel-good fun for all the family. Directed by cinema's pre-eminently fantasist George Pal. The legendary director who already shot a few delightful myths and fairy-tales such as `The Time Machine', `Atlantis' and `The Wonderful world of the Brothers Grimm'. This time, he bases his film on a famous novel and it's a successful adventure with unlimited imagination. Tony Randall puts on quite a show as the multi-faced illusionist, Dr. Lao. He arrives with his circus in a near-dead little town. A greedy magnate wishes to buy the entire town and makes the inhabitants believe their properties are worthless. With a little help from a news reporter, Dr. Lao faces the townies with some of the smaller joys of life and their own consciousness. Both fortune-telling sequences are fascinating and remarkably written and - in order to be complete - the story foresees a touching romance. There are tons of educational and mythical aspects to discover in this film…lots of facts about the Greek Mythology, for example! The creature effects and make-up are terrifically kitschy and rather charming. Recommended for sure! Seven Faces of Dr. Lao is some of the most pleasant fantasy adventures of the sixties and it has the right to a larger fanbase!
  • A movie produced in the great times of Ameican movie making. Simple themes were required, for general entertainment, but that did not stop the writers and directors from putting in their own often very insightful comments.

    The conversion by Dr Lao of Arthur O'Connell from a cynical property developer to "good guy" - "I've always hoped that someday a town would have enough get-up-and-go to band together and do the right thing" is, of course a simple and basic one.

    So, to is the awakening of the love interest between John Ericson (if I have things the right way round) - by Pan, his pipes stirring the hormones of widow Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden, I Dream of Jeannie 15 Year Later amongst others).

    And the simple lessons given to the young boy by the enigmatic Dr Lao, the wise philosiphising fool also fit a simple pattern.

    But I've never seen anything quite like the short scene between (if I have it right) Sarah Benedict (Rose of Cimmaron, 1952) and Apollonius of Tyana, where she is told in no uncertain terms that her life is of no import, and she will grow old "without gaining wisdom, will die alone, and when dead, no one will mourn your passing". Her reporting of that fortune telling as a positive one, "I'm sure to marry Mr .." is one I will always remember.

    For some reason, Tony Randall who plays 7 roles in this one never liked the film. A pity. It's played reasonably often, and I never tire of it.
  • This is a one-of-a-kind fantasy film, a neglected masterpiece. It was produced and directed by the great George Pal, pioneer creator of quality science-fiction and fantasy films in the 50's and 60's (Destination Moon, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm).

    It was based on a underground cult novel from the 30's, The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney, and the screenplay was written by master fantasist Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone, Corman's Masque of the Red Death). And it starred the late Tony Randall in the performance of his career, the central character who constantly transforms into all sorts of magical mythological identities, from the mysterious immortal Chinese mage Dr. Lao, to the ancient legendary magician Merlin, to the pagan fertility god Pan, to the mythical Greek seer Appolonius, to the fearsome snake-haired Medusa, to the Abominable Snowman, and so on. William Tuttle's amazing Oscar-winning make-up helps Randall achieve each transformation. Dr. Lao brings his wondrous Bradburyesque traveling circus to a small Arizona town at the beginning of the 20th century and the townsfolk witness a series of impossible creatures, supernatural spectacles, as they learn hidden lessons and transcendent truths---as does the audience in this supremely imaginative, truly magical film. As the kindly supernatural Lao tells the little boy who wants to run away from home to join the carnival: "The whole world is a circus if you look at it the right way. Every time you pick up a handful of dust and see not the dust but a mystery, a marvel there in your hand. Every time you stop and think I'm alive and being alive is fantastic. Every time such a thing happens, you are part of the circus of Dr. Lao."
  • To me, this was a combination fantasy, comedy and story with a moral (or rather, several) that genuinely worked for the most part, which is a tricky thing. I'm sure there's been criticism (even before it became COMPLETELY popular to do this) about having a non-Chinese actor play the part (just as there's been with "Kung Fu", a show that strangely resembles this story). But Tony Randall, and his make-up, were so good, that there hardly seems reason for it. (Even the thick accent the character used part of the time was really another one of his disguises, not even meant to be his real voice.) So, whether it's called "political correctness", or something else, criticizing this movie (or Kung Fu itself) for THAT reason seems really off the point. One scene (though I'm sure it's been gone into here) that temporarily takes it out of the "family film" category is the "Pan" scene with Barbara Eden, which shows how "hot" a scene can be, in the middle of a completely different kind of story. But one thing that doesn't always seem to be mentioned is that Pan is played by TWO actors, first by Randall himself, and then by John Ericson, because the whole scene is about her "suppressed" feelings for the Ericson character. If there's one part that's a fly in the ointment to me (and unfortunately, it's a pretty big part), it's the "Atlantis" story that Dr. Lao shows as a kind of movie at the circus. Compared to all the other little "lessons" in the story, I think this one was pretty heavy-handed. And there was the kind of depressing scene between the Lee Patrick character and "Apollonius", but it doesn't stand out in the same way. At least that scene had the great line, "I only read futures, I don't evaluate them."
  • Unusually for a Geore Pal film, this movie does not have at its core the special effects, but rather a wonderful performance by Tony Randall (or more accurately, performances) and the makeup, which received the first Oscar (a special one) ever given for makeup. A good cast and script are also plusses. Read the original novella by Charles G. Finney if you can find it-it's well worth tracking down. Recommended.
  • In the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Chinese Dr. Lao (Tony Randall) arrives in Abalone, Arizona, riding a donkey carrying a fishbowl with a small fish and goes to the local newspaper Diary Star. He asks the owner Ed Cunningham (John Ericson) to publish one-page advertisement for two days for his traveling circus. Ed has unrequited love for the widow librarian Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden) and opposes to the powerful rancher Clint Stark (Arthur O'Connell) that wants to buy the lands of the inhabitants of Abalone. He uses the argument that the water supply pipe is decayed and needs to be replaced and it will be very expensive. However Stark has inside information that the railroad will pass by Abalone and will increase the value of the lands. There is a meeting in the town to decide whether the locals will sell their real estates to Stark or not but the decision is postponed after the arrival of Dr. Lao. During the night, the dwellers go to the circus to see The Abominable Snowman, Merlin the Magician, Apollonius of Tyana, Pan, The Giant Serpent and Medusa. Each attraction gives a lesson to each resident, changing their future and behavior for the better.

    "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" is a delightful and magic cult-movie, with a beautiful and entertaining story and great direction of George Pal. Tony Randall "steals" the movie performing seven different roles. Barbara "Jeannie" Eden is gorgeous and her encounter with Pan the God of Joy is wonderfully erotic. Apollonius of Tyana telling the truth about the future of his clients is hilarious. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "As 7 Faces do Dr. Lao" ("The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    7 Faces of Dr Lao is solidly in the second category...yes, it is a movie of course, but this movie is pure entertainment, frome a time when the big screen instilled a touch of magic within you...

    I saw this one not too long after it came out, and Tony Randal is the utimate performer. He took a script from an excellent writer, and literally brought it to life. You can't give any higher praise...

    No, it was never a blockbuster, nor an was, and is just delightful...
  • My friends and I were used to going to lightweight movies in the Sixties. We would see Doris Day or Rock Hudson or Shirley MacLaine. Tony Randall often played a best friend to a romantic lead or some other less significant role. This one shows what a wonderful actor he was. He plays a strange Chinese "magician" who comes to a dying town in Arizona. The people are in disarray because they see that things are falling apart. Arthur O'Connel (who usually played kindly types) is aware of the railroad going through the town and is doing everything to get people to sell him their land. The thing with Dr. Lao's circus is that when one goes to it, they learn things about themselves. Some of things are very disturbing. Lao is able to bring up monsters and mythological figures. When someone does something evil, he counteracts their actions or punishes them in some way. Randall plays all seven faces, each having significant effect on the town-folks. Mostly, I remember how I could not get this film out of my head for weeks because it was like nothing I had ever seen before. I have since read the book and watched the film a couple more times. It has aged really well.
  • Perhaps if Peter Sellers (George Pal's original choice for the lead here) had played Dr. Lao in this film, it would have done much better at the box office when released, and the film would be seen by more than a cult following today. Sellers would become the hotter 1960s box office draw, but Tony Randall does an outstanding job as Dr. Lao, and this movie is definitely worth anyone's viewing. The make-up work in this film is terrific, by any standard, and the special effects--especially for 1964--are terrific. *The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao* has something for everyone: fantasy, romance, comedy, drama, minimal violence--even a few minutes of Barbara Eden's sexual passion heating up. Again, for anyone who hasn't enjoyed watching it, it's definitely worth a look. For many who have already seen it, it's worth another.
  • AppleBlossom20 November 2004
    Dr Lao is an ancient Chinese magician who arrives in a small town of Albalone. The town folk are on hard times, and a villainous character Mr Starks (Arthur O'Connell) is deceiving them in a effort to buy their homes. If he succeeds he will own the town outright, to use for his own hidden agenda. Things change dramatically when the mysterious Dr Lao comes to town, advertising his spectacular circus. All the town's people of course attend (out of curiosity)....each finding an answer in their own hearts with what's happening with their town and their personal life.

    Although it is now regarded as a classic fantasy film, this was a box office disappointment when it was first released. It caused a four year gap before George Pal had his next film in theaters. It also marked the last time George Pal would direct. Tony Randall steals the show of course, he plays all 7 roles of Dr's a lot of fun to watch.....I highly recommend it. 8/10.
  • I am glad to see that I am not the oldest person who visits IMDb. In 1964 I was 9 years old, and I, too, saw this movie as a child in a theater the first time. Back then, I didn't see a message in it, but enjoyed it absolutely.

    As a teenager in philosophical discussion with my friends, someone mentioned this movie with the comment that "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" contained a profound message, but not everyone got it. This got me thinking that perhaps I needed to see it again.

    I was in my 30s before VCRs became common household items, and video stores appeared in all the shopping centers. I began renting copies and sharing it with friends, asking the important question: "Does this movie contain a message, or is it just entertainment?"

    I have always enjoyed the responses from those I have persuaded to watch it, most of them my age or older who did not see it back in the 60s, all of them saying "Yes, this movie has a message."

    Several of those have commented that this movie was way ahead of it's time, before people thought much about profound meanings in stories that were popular at the time. I would often respond that it was indeed unique for it's time, but even today I am unable to find another movie to compare it with.

    How this message has been interpreted has already been well covered here, so I will now focus on the other things that makes this movie so special.

    It came as a great surprise to me that Tony Randall did not consider this his best work as I did. Yes, he was great as Felix in "The Odd Couple," but in "7 Faces" he played multiple roles. Whenever I watch it I enjoy the way he changes voice and dialect from one line to the next. True, not all characters he played had speaking parts, and in the case of the snake, it was a voice-only part. Still, I would think the late great Tony Randall would be pleased with having this opportunity to demonstrate his versatility as an actor.

    The special effects were well up to date for 1964, though not so impressive today, but I still enjoy seeing the fish turn into a sea serpent, almost as much as I did seeing it the first time.

    All of my friends enjoyed seeing Frank Cady, who we remember as Sam Drucker from "Green Acres."

    Who can ever forget Barbara Eden?

    There are those who have commented that today it is not considered politically correct to have a white man playing a Chinese man, but let's remember that Peter Sellers and David Carradine have also done this.

    One friend I have shared this movie with said, "How can anyone not see the message in it? It smacks you in the face!"

    I give this movie a 10 in consideration of it being made in 1964, and that no producer to my knowledge has made anything like it since.

    To anyone who has ever thought deeply about why we are here, and has a sense of humor, I recommend "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao."
  • "The whole world is a circus, if you look at it the right way."

    This film is an absolute gem. If you have never seen it, you are in for an extraordinary treat. The DVD release is an event which, I hope, allows the film to reach a far greater audience. A number of film enthusiasts regard this as a cult classic, a belief that I firmly share. Hopefully, you will, too.

    "This circus is like a mirror. You see yourself in it sometimes...sometimes someone else."

    A mysterious Chinese gentlemen appears in the midst of Abalone, Arizona, after the turn of the century. The town is facing a crisis which threatens its future. Many of the town's inhabitants are also facing individual challenges. Dr. Lao invites them to his travelling circus and promises a show which "not even the experience of a lifetime spent in Abalone could conceive of." And he delivers! Characters from mythology, dreams, and nightmares populate his tent. Each sideshow offers something that touches and changes the lives of attendees...and quite possibly, the town as a whole.

    The film will engage children and adults alike. The closes parallel I can make is to a film like Wizard of Oz. Both films offer moral lessons in terms that children can grasp, while reminding adult viewers of the importance of listening to their "inner child."

    While the philosophy contained herein may strike some as overly simplistic, and the production values may leave something to be desired, the circus is an event not to be missed.

    "Every time you stop and think 'I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic!' Every time such a thing happens, you are part of the Circus of Dr. Lao."
  • Obviously, it nowadays makes us cringe that a white person plays an Asian person. But other than that, "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" has some good life lessons in the same way that "Zorba the Greek" does. Portraying the Old West town of Abalone, where the elderly Chinese titular character (Tony Randall) opens a circus and helps the people discover new strength in themselves to question the authority of their corrupt overlord (Arthur O'Connell), the movie is most impressive. The special effects aren't quite what we in the 21st century are used to, but that really doesn't subtract from the movie's quality. As Dr. Lao reminds us: "The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it." Oh, and of course Barbara Eden stars, before she became Jeannie. Jeannie would probably say of "7FODL": "Is it not wonderful, master?" It sure is.
  • Yet another among my cinematic guilty pleasures. The best recommendation is for you to sit down with one or more kids and know nothing about what's in store, at least plot-wise. That's how I was introduced to the good doctor and why I need to return to his Circus every so often.

    I've always liked George Pal's touch, and much of his work rightfully endures. For the kids, seek The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm and tom thumb (and perhaps Houdini and The Great Rupert). For the adults, seek the original War of the Worlds and The Time Machine (and perhaps The Power). For both, seek this film and the Puppetoons; with the latter, if Jasper offends, he does so unintentionally, while John Henry and the Inky-Poo will more than offset.

    Along these lines you may take offense at the good doctor's acting out a stereotype. Look again. The whole point of this film is that looks can deceive, or at least merit another look.

    The source novel is just plain weird and won't help before or after. Charles Beaumont's screenplay adaptation displays more than a little of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, with good reason.

    With one exception Tony Randall in makeup remains Tony Randall—in Oscar-winning makeup. Watch for the briefest cameo of him without. You'll also recognize a slew of character actors from elsewhere, including some classic Westerns.

    Judging from their work, Wardrobe, Makeup and the FX crew must've been a lot of fun to be around.

    Leigh Harline's musical score lingers, with bagpipes yet.

    The scene between Barbara Eden and Pan is—incandescent.

    You'll be moved by the scene between Apollonius and Mrs Cassan. It's only a minute or so in duration, sans mattes, strings, thunderclaps or laser show, as it plumbs the realm of the Fantastic with nothing more than insight. Just enter the tent
  • If you are constantly looking for movies you can watch with your children, and which have enough going for them that they can keep your interest too, this is a good choice. An excellent mixture of fantasy and sentimentality, Dr. Lao is the type of movie which is simply not made any more. Most of the makeup and special effects (with the possible exception of the abominable snowman) are fun and entertaining, the plot is decent, and Tony Randall is great as the "old Chinese faker." The scene where Arthur O'Connell meets his scaly alter ego is a classic bit of film-making. Lots of fun for all ages. Besides, any movie with Royal Dano in it is always worth a look.
  • A 1000 year plus Chinese gentleman comes to a small Western town with his carnival/circus to bring entertainment, peace, and truth. Tony Randall is superb in the role of Dr. Lao, bringing to the role wit, charm, and nobility. He is equally successful playing the other roles of members of his carnival, in particular his turn as an aged Merlin is memorable. This film is a fantasy, in some ways similar to Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, in that it uses the carnival as a device to show human weakness and lack of understanding not only about humanity but about life. The primary difference between the two is that Dr. Lao is a movie that emphasizes the decency or potential of human beings, whereas Something Wicked focuses on the dark side more and is certainly a much blacker depiction of human nature as a whole(nonetheless a great book and pretty good film). The story is simple enough in that this small Western town is run by one rich man who wants everyone to sell their property so he can make money off of their individual greed. Arthur O'Connell is wonderful as the exploitative businessman who creates evil in order to find the truth and beauty of mankind. The rest of the cast is more than adequate, as are the sets, costumes, and lovely musical score. Some of the special effects are a bit out-dated, but that really does not detract from the message of the picture which is that life is a beautiful possession to be cherished, and that each of us has the potential for good. Quite simply....this is a very good film!
  • The Circus of Dr. Lao was one of my favorite books as a child. This enigmatic book was the first one I read that left much to the imagination. The movie, retitled "The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao', lost the enigma but still managed to delight and charm me. This was due, in large part, to Tony Randall's virtuoso performance in 8 roles, my favorite being Pan. TIVO was wise enough to record this movie for me (Yes, I'm a little scared by how well my digital recorder knows me but that's another tale.) and I enjoyed it even more as an adult. As a previous poster stated there is more than a passing resemblance to "Something Wicked This Way Comes" but I preferred Dr. Lao to Mr. Dark. Peter Sellers was originally cast as Dr. Lao but the studio did not want him. I wonder how this movie would have turned out had his performance been filmed.
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