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An old Chinese gentleman rides into the town of Abalone, Arizona and changes it forever, as the citizens see themselves reflected in the mirror of Lao's mysterious circus of mythical beasts. Written by
Edward E. Pringle <email@example.com>
According to a July 1962 LA Times item, Laurence Harvey was set to play the Tony Randall role. See more »
During the opening festivities for Dr. Lao's circus, the Yeti is shown as organ grinder for three musical-box figures, one of which is Fred Flintstone playing the drums - a cartoon character who wasn't created until nearly half a century after the film takes place (and, incidentally, a type of drum set-up not popularized until the early 1940's). See more »
Now, come on, Doc! What kind of oriental hocus-pocus is going on around here? A circus with no wagons, no animals, no cages? A crazy old magician? What's it all about?
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Wonderfully unique fantasy with amazing performance by Tony Randall
This is a one-of-a-kind fantasy film, a neglected masterpiece. It was produced and directed by the great George Pal, pioneer creator of quality science-fiction and fantasy films in the 50's and 60's (Destination Moon, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds, Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm).
It was based on a underground cult novel from the 30's, The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney, and the screenplay was written by master fantasist Charles Beaumont (The Twilight Zone, Corman's Masque of the Red Death). And it starred the late Tony Randall in the performance of his career, the central character who constantly transforms into all sorts of magical mythological identities, from the mysterious immortal Chinese mage Dr. Lao, to the ancient legendary magician Merlin, to the pagan fertility god Pan, to the mythical Greek seer Appolonius, to the fearsome snake-haired Medusa, to the Abominable Snowman, and so on. William Tuttle's amazing Oscar-winning make-up helps Randall achieve each transformation. Dr. Lao brings his wondrous Bradburyesque traveling circus to a small Arizona town at the beginning of the 20th century and the townsfolk witness a series of impossible creatures, supernatural spectacles, as they learn hidden lessons and transcendent truths---as does the audience in this supremely imaginative, truly magical film. As the kindly supernatural Lao tells the little boy who wants to run away from home to join the carnival: "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, you are part of the circus of Dr. Lao."
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