7 Faces of Dr. Lao


1h 40m 1964
7 Faces of Dr. Lao

Brief Synopsis

A Chinese showman uses his magical powers to save a Western town from itself.

Photos & Videos

7 Faces of Dr. Lao - British Front-of-House Stills
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Tony Randall Publicity Stills
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Behind-the-Scenes Stills

Film Details

Genre
Western
Fantasy
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
Denver, Colorado, opening: 18 Mar 1964
Production Company
Galaxy Productions; Scarus, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney (New York, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

The elderly Dr. Lao, a Chinese showman, rides into the desert town of Abalone, places an advertisement in the local newspaper announcing the impending arrival of his circus, and in the time preceding its arrival learns a great deal about Abalone's citizens. He becomes fond of Ed Cunningham, the newspaper editor, and takes an interest in Ed's romance--which is not progressing smoothly--with Angela Benedict, the local schoolteacher, librarian, and widowed mother of 8-year-old Mike. Ed, through his editorials, is conducting a war against Clint Stark, a local bully who is trying to buy up the town because he knows that a railroad will soon come through Abalone. The whole town attends Dr. Lao's circus, and as part of the evening's entertainment Dr. Lao assumes various disguises to show the townspeople how weak and small-minded they are. As the blind seer Apollonius he puts the mirror of truth before the town gossip; as Medusa he turns a shrewish housewife temporarily into stone; as Pan he cements Ed's romance with Angela; and as a serpent he shows Clint the error of his ways. Clint's unreformed henchmen wreck the newspaper office, but Dr. Lao magically restores it to its former condition. Seeking revenge on Dr. Lao, the frustrated wreckers shoot at a bowl containing, they assume, Dr. Lao's pet fish. The creature in the bowl, a huge sea serpent sworn to devour Dr. Lao, begins to grow, sprouts seven heads, and pursues Clint's henchmen. The appearance of Dr. Lao saves Clint's men but jeopardizes Dr. Lao, who magically reduces the monster to fish bowl size. The next morning Dr. Lao departs Abalone, leaving a better town than he found.

Photo Collections

7 Faces of Dr. Lao - British Front-of-House Stills
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - British Front-of-House Stills
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Tony Randall Publicity Stills
Here are some photos of Tony Randall in a few of his final guises from George Pal's 7 Faces of Dr, Lao (1964). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of George Pal's 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), as Tony Randall is in the makeup chair being worked on for some of his many guises in the film.
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Barbara Eden Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos of Barbara Eden, taken to help publicize George Pal's 7 Faces of Dr, Lao (1964). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for MGM's 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), starring Tony Randall and Barbara Eden, and produced and directed by George Pal. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Western
Fantasy
Adaptation
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
Denver, Colorado, opening: 18 Mar 1964
Production Company
Galaxy Productions; Scarus, Inc.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney (New York, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Visual Effects

1964

Articles

7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Seven Faces of Dr. Lao


"To William Tuttle for his outstanding make-up achievement for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao"

In the midst of the Depression, a traveling circus featuring mythical beasts like Medusa and the Abominable Snowman arrives unexpectedly in the remote town of Abalone, Arizona. The ringmaster, an elderly Chinese man named Dr. Lao, invites the townspeople to see his show but the strange attractions they encounter there have a life-altering effect on the community.

Part fantasy, part allegory, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) is based on a rather dark and pessimistic novel by Charles Finney, a former proofreader turned novelist from Tucson, Arizona. The original book, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was Finney's first effort and created a literary sensation upon publication. Years later screenwriter Charles Beaumont put together a film treatment of it which was more lighthearted in tone but had no success peddling it to studios until he worked with producer/director George Pal on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). When Pal asked Beaumont if he had any favorite film projects he had been unable to sell, Beaumont pulled out his draft of the Finney story and the director was immediately hooked.

Peter Sellers was Pal's first choice for the role of Dr. Lao and the actor was extremely excited about starring in the film since it enabled him to play multiple characters. However, MGM studio executives were more interested in Tony Randall for the part so Pal conceded to their wishes and never regretted the choice once production began.

While 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is worth seeing for Tony Randall's tour-de-force performance alone as Dr. Lao (he also appears as featured attractions in the circus), it is Bill Tuttle's fantastic makeup creations and Jim Danforth's special visual effects that make the film unique in the history of fantasy cinema.

To create Dr. Lao and his weird menagerie, Bill Tuttle first made watercolors of each of the seven characters. Then he made a plaster cast of Randall's head which he used as a mold to build all the separate heads of each character, eventually casting all the facial pieces in sponge rubber for future application with spirit gum. At this point, Tony Randall said (in The Films of George Pal by Gail Morgan Hickman), "He then went to work on me. He shaved my head and eyebrows. Socially, it was a disaster. The effect gave me an unborn look. But professionally it was a masterstroke. All of my preconceived notions on how I would play the characters vanished. As soon as Tuttle applied his makeup magic, I felt myself actually become these strange people...I had green plastic lenses for the Medusa, blue for the Apollonius of Tyana, and old Merlin had the faded-washed-out light blue. They were extremely uncomfortable to wear because they were so big. They covered not just the pupil as ordinary contact lenses do but the entire iris of the eye..every makeup would take about two hours to put on, and on some days, I'd be in three different makeups."

Not surprisingly, Tuttle received an honorary Oscar for his remarkable makeup achievements in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Jim Danforth was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in the same film due to the amazing transformation sequence of a goldfish into the Loch Ness Monster. Instead, the Academy Award went to Mary Poppins. Danforth would once again be nominated for his special effects work in 1970 for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. It should also be noted that while Tony Randall received billing as all seven characters, the Abominable Snowman was actually played by George Pal's son, Peter.

Producer/Director: George Pal
Screenplay: Charles G. Finney (novel The Circus of Dr. Lao), Charles Beaumont, Ben Hecht (uncredited) Art Direction: George W. Davis, Gabriel Scognamillo
Cinematography: Robert Bronner
Film Editing: George Tomasini
Original Music: Leigh Harline
Cast: Tony Randall (Dr. Lao/Merlin/Pan/Abominable Snowman/Medusa/Giant Serpent/Apollonuis of Tyana/Audience member), Barbara Eden (Angela Benedict), Arthur O¿onnell (Clint Stark), John Ericson (Ed Cunningham/transformed Pan), Noah Beery Jr. (Tim Mitchell)
C-100m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford
7 Faces Of Dr. Lao - Seven Faces Of Dr. Lao

7 Faces of Dr. Lao - Seven Faces of Dr. Lao

"To William Tuttle for his outstanding make-up achievement for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao" In the midst of the Depression, a traveling circus featuring mythical beasts like Medusa and the Abominable Snowman arrives unexpectedly in the remote town of Abalone, Arizona. The ringmaster, an elderly Chinese man named Dr. Lao, invites the townspeople to see his show but the strange attractions they encounter there have a life-altering effect on the community. Part fantasy, part allegory, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964) is based on a rather dark and pessimistic novel by Charles Finney, a former proofreader turned novelist from Tucson, Arizona. The original book, The Circus of Dr. Lao, was Finney's first effort and created a literary sensation upon publication. Years later screenwriter Charles Beaumont put together a film treatment of it which was more lighthearted in tone but had no success peddling it to studios until he worked with producer/director George Pal on The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). When Pal asked Beaumont if he had any favorite film projects he had been unable to sell, Beaumont pulled out his draft of the Finney story and the director was immediately hooked. Peter Sellers was Pal's first choice for the role of Dr. Lao and the actor was extremely excited about starring in the film since it enabled him to play multiple characters. However, MGM studio executives were more interested in Tony Randall for the part so Pal conceded to their wishes and never regretted the choice once production began. While 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is worth seeing for Tony Randall's tour-de-force performance alone as Dr. Lao (he also appears as featured attractions in the circus), it is Bill Tuttle's fantastic makeup creations and Jim Danforth's special visual effects that make the film unique in the history of fantasy cinema. To create Dr. Lao and his weird menagerie, Bill Tuttle first made watercolors of each of the seven characters. Then he made a plaster cast of Randall's head which he used as a mold to build all the separate heads of each character, eventually casting all the facial pieces in sponge rubber for future application with spirit gum. At this point, Tony Randall said (in The Films of George Pal by Gail Morgan Hickman), "He then went to work on me. He shaved my head and eyebrows. Socially, it was a disaster. The effect gave me an unborn look. But professionally it was a masterstroke. All of my preconceived notions on how I would play the characters vanished. As soon as Tuttle applied his makeup magic, I felt myself actually become these strange people...I had green plastic lenses for the Medusa, blue for the Apollonius of Tyana, and old Merlin had the faded-washed-out light blue. They were extremely uncomfortable to wear because they were so big. They covered not just the pupil as ordinary contact lenses do but the entire iris of the eye..every makeup would take about two hours to put on, and on some days, I'd be in three different makeups." Not surprisingly, Tuttle received an honorary Oscar for his remarkable makeup achievements in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao. Jim Danforth was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects in the same film due to the amazing transformation sequence of a goldfish into the Loch Ness Monster. Instead, the Academy Award went to Mary Poppins. Danforth would once again be nominated for his special effects work in 1970 for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. It should also be noted that while Tony Randall received billing as all seven characters, the Abominable Snowman was actually played by George Pal's son, Peter. Producer/Director: George Pal Screenplay: Charles G. Finney (novel The Circus of Dr. Lao), Charles Beaumont, Ben Hecht (uncredited) Art Direction: George W. Davis, Gabriel Scognamillo Cinematography: Robert Bronner Film Editing: George Tomasini Original Music: Leigh Harline Cast: Tony Randall (Dr. Lao/Merlin/Pan/Abominable Snowman/Medusa/Giant Serpent/Apollonuis of Tyana/Audience member), Barbara Eden (Angela Benedict), Arthur O¿onnell (Clint Stark), John Ericson (Ed Cunningham/transformed Pan), Noah Beery Jr. (Tim Mitchell) C-100m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

My specialty is wisdom. Do you know what wisdom is?
- Dr. Lao
No sir.
- Mike
Wise answer.
- Dr. Lao
The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it.
- Dr. Lao
Mike, let me tell you something. The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic. The way a leaf grows. The song of the birds. The way the desert looks at night, with the moon embracing it. Oh, my boy, that's... that's circus enough for anyone. Every time you watch a rainbow and feel wonder in your heart. 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're part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.
- 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.
- Dr. Lao
Every time you pick up a grain of sand you hold a universe in the palm of your hand.
- Dr. Lao

Trivia

'Randall, Tony' appears in the audience at the second circus show.

Peter Sellers was the director's first choice to play Dr. Lao.

William Tuttle received an honorary Oscar for his makeup work on this film. It was the first one of two honorary Oscars awarded for makeup - the other one being 'John Chambers' ' for Planet of the Apes (1968).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1964

Released in United States March 1985

Released in United States 1964

Released in United States March 1985 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Fabulous Fifty-Hour Filmex Fantasy Marathon) March 14-31, 1985.)