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7 Faces of Dr. Lao

7 Faces of Dr. Lao is a 1964 fantasy film from MGM, based on the 1935 novel The Circus of Doctor Lao by Charles G. Finney, directed by George Pal, and starring Barbara Eden, Arthur O'Connell, John Ericson, Kevin Tate, and Tony Randall in a tour de force performance as the eponymous Chinese showman, the Abominable Snowman, Apollonius of Tyana, the Giant Serpent, Medusa, Merlin the Magician, Pan, and an unmade-up, anonymous, and silent member of his own audience.

The film greatly altered the plot and softened the mordant tone of the original novel, opting rather for a sense of whimsy and wonder, reflected in the score by Leigh Harline, best known for scoring Disney's Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. Unfortunately, despite an extraordinary performance by Randall and some (though not all) of the other cast (Kevin Tate as Mike is a stand-out), and the admirable visual effects -- for which SFX artist Jim Danforth received an Academy Award nomination and makeup artist William Tuttle an Honorary Oscar -- the film has something of the feel of a made-for-TV movie, exacerbated by the use of stock footage from Atlantis, the Lost Continent and The Time Machine, with unconvincing interspersed shots of the cast in ancient costume. It did not do well when it came out, but as the years have gone by, it has come into its own, and is now widely regarded as a fantasy classic.


Tropes Employed In 7 Faces of Dr. Lao Include:

 Fat Cowboy: ...Looks like a Jap to me.

Toothless Cowboy: Naaaw. He's Chinese.

Fat Cowboy: How do you know?

Toothless Cowboy: 'Cause I ain't stupid!

 Dr. Lao: Do you know what wisdom is?

Mike: No, sir.

Dr. Lao: Wise answer.

 Dr. Lao: Mike, 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, Mike, you are part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.

  • Yellowface: But then, Lao can wear whatever face suits his fancy.
  • You No Take Candle: Dr. Lao, him speak dis way some time, yes -- however, not upon every occasion.
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