Seven Faces of Dr. Lao
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.