George Pal

George Pal – 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

The movie is based on a novel called The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney about a mysterious, elderly Chinese gentleman who brings a rather unusual circus to a small Western town at the turn of the 20th century. The film opens as Dr. Lao (Tony Randall) rides into the town of Abalone on a donkey, pausing just long enough to light his pipe with a flame that sprouts from his thumb. He ignores the initial mockery of the locals and visits the newspaper office to place an advertisement about his circus coming to town. While there he overhears a conversation between the profiteering town bully, Clint Stark (Arthur O’Connell), and the plucky newspaper editor Edward Cunningham (John Ericson). Stark plans to buy out everyone in town for sinister (and capitalistic) purposes, and Ed is determined to prevent just that from happening. While the power struggle is established over the next 30 minutes, we are introduced to the rest of the cast including the widowed librarian, Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden), and a bevy of colorful town characters. Meanwhile, Dr. Lao has set up his circus just outside of town, where he will change the lives of the townsfolk forever. Read More »