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7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

There's certain advantages to being old. I'm probably the only Neatoramanaut who has ever met Kirk Alyn, the original movie Superman, James Doohan, 'Scotty' on Star Trek TOS, Robert Goulet, and George Pal, the producer and director of low-budget sci-fi films such as When Worlds Collide and The Time Machine.

I met George Pal in 1974, when he was lecturing an audience of nostalgia buffs about his upcoming (and truly awful) Doc Savage film. One of the questions posed concerned his 1964 film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, which I thought was a good film but was a bomb at the box office. George Pal said that he had wanted to cast Peter Sellers instead of the then-unknown Tony Randall, but the studio would not approve the cost to do so. Randall did a good job, but name recognition is everything even these days. From the IMDb:

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 Abalone 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!

It should surprise no one to learn that I have read the original novel, and the film follows it fairly closely with a few notable exceptions. Unfortunately, YouTube does not feature the entire film, which is available through other common venues such as Amazon Prime, so I have embedded a few clips, among them the near-seduction of Barbara Eden by Pan, probably the most erotic sequence ever seen in a PG film. Nonetheless, this is a good family film and no one should be surprised to learn that I own the DVD.

Trailer -

Most Important Parts -

Serpent's Tongue-lashing -

Barbara Eden and Pan -

Medusa -

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