Seven Faces of Dr. Lao

Seven Faces of Dr. Lao

4.5 2
Director: George Pal

Cast: George Pal, Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, Arthur O'Connell

     
 

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Tony Randall has the showcase of a lifetime in the marvelous George Pal production The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. We first see Randall as Dr. Lao, an enigmatic Chinese medicine-show impresario. The doctor brings his travelling show into the frontier town of Abalone, which is chafing under the oppression of land-hungry Clint Stark (Arthur O'Connell). NewspaperSee more details below

Overview

Tony Randall has the showcase of a lifetime in the marvelous George Pal production The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao. We first see Randall as Dr. Lao, an enigmatic Chinese medicine-show impresario. The doctor brings his travelling show into the frontier town of Abalone, which is chafing under the oppression of land-hungry Clint Stark (Arthur O'Connell). Newspaper editor Ed Cunningham (John Ericson) is conducting a campaign of words against Stark, but he is no match for the land baron's money, power, and hulking henchmen. Nonetheless, Cunningham continues his crusade, all the while attempting to romance icy young widow Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden). All of this is observed with bemusement by Dr. Lao, who has already established himself as a man of many talents by alternating between pidgin-English and eloquent articulation, depending on the circumstances. Each of the townspeople--including the three already mentioned--learn a great many truths about themselves when they attend Dr. Lao's unusual circus. In the course of straightening out everyone's problems, Lao metamorphoses into (1) Merlin the Magician, (2) Pan, (3) Medusa, (4) The Abominable Snowman, (5) Apollonius of Tyana and (6) a Talking Serpent. The combined talents of Randall, puppeteer Pal and make-up wizard William J. Tuttle (who won two Special Oscars) resulted in this captivatingly unique entertainment experience. Curiously, Tony Randall is not fond of Seven Faces of Dr.Lao, and refused to be interviewed on the subject. Perhaps he was unhappy that much of the philosophy dispensed in the original Charles G. Finney novel The Circus of Dr. Lao was weeded out of Charles Beaumont's script....or perhaps he just didn't like having his head shaved for the part.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A film with a dedicated cult following, Seven Faces of Dr. Lao is a strange, bizarrely amusing and occasionally unsettling curio -- and yet one that is not quite as strange, bizarre or unsettling as one might wish. Although George Pal turns in some of his most sensitive direction, and although the film exerts an undeniable attraction, it doesn't quite go far enough to be totally successful; in particular, its rather mundane treatment of the characters played by Barbara Eden, John Ericson and Arthur O'Connell is disappointing, although the Pan sequence involving the first two is well done. Even with these flaws, however, there's more than enough to enjoy and admire, starting with Tony Randall's tour-de-force performance. Running the gamut from stereotypically inscrutable to insinuating evil, he makes the most of this rare showcase for his talents -- all while maintaining the strange charm and sure comedic timing for which he is noted. Despite the limitations of their roles, Eden and O'Connell come off very well, and there are delightful bits from much of the supporting cast. Make-up and special effects are top-notch for the period, and there's even a bit of animation in the Medusa sequence. An off-beat children's picture that adults can also enjoy, Dr. Lao's magic holds up well even years after its release.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/27/2011
UPC:
0883316397183
Original Release:
1963
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:40:00
Sales rank:
11,371

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tony Randall Dr. Lao,Merlin the Magician,Apollonius,Pan,The Medusa,The Abominable Snowman
Barbara Eden Angela Benedict
Arthur O'Connell Clint Stark
John Ericson Ed Cunningham
Kevin Tate Mike Benedict
Argentina Brunetti Sarah Benedict
Noah Beery Tim Mitchell
Royal Dano Carey
Frank Cady Mayor James Sargent
Lee Patrick Mrs. Howard T. Cassan
John Qualen Luther Lindquist
Minerva Urecal Kate Lindquist
Edward Little Sky George G. George
Frank Kreig Peter Ramsey
Dal McKennon Lean Cowboy
Chubby Johnson Fat Cowboy
Douglas Fowley Toothless Cowboy
John Doucette Lucas
Peggy Rea Mrs. Peter Ramsey

Technical Credits
George Pal Director,Producer
Charles Beaumont Screenwriter
Robert J. Bronner Cinematographer
Paul Byrd Special Effects
Wah Chang Special Effects
Jim Danforth Special Effects
George W. Davis Art Director
Henry W. Grace Set Decoration/Design
Leigh Harline Score Composer
Robert R. Hoag Special Effects
Hugh Hunt Set Decoration/Design
Ralph Rodine Special Effects
Gabriel Scognamillo Art Director
George Tomasini Editor
William J. Tuttle Makeup

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