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7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

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A mysterious circus comes to a western town bearing wonders and characters that entertain the inhabitants and teach valuable lessons.



(screen play), (novel)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Benedict
Tim Mitchell
Kate Lindquist
Luther Lindquist
Frank Kreig ...
Peter Ramsey
Mrs. Peter Ramsey
George C. George
Sarah Benedict


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 <pringle@atb.teradyne.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Which face will the wily doctor reveal to you? See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 August 1964 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Seven Faces of Dr. Lao  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Before it became apparent the film was not a hit, George Pal told press he was planning a sequel with Tony Randall recreating his role. See more »


When the little boy comforts Merlin the Magician, the balloon he is holding appears and disappears depending on whether he is shown from the front or the back. See more »


[Dr. Lao is fishing in a dried-up riverbed]
Ed Cunningham: I hate to tell you this, Doctor, but there aren't any fish in that river. In fact, there isn't any river.
Dr. Lao: That's okay. Me no use bait.
See more »


Spoofed in The Seven Seductions (1981) See more »


Sumer is icumen in
Traditional 13th century English round
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Wonderful Taoist Film
8 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

I saw this film again yesterday, just when I needed to. I was a bit depressed and the film, with its essentially Taoist philosophy, picked me up. Is Dr. Lao really Lao Tsu, famous Taoist immortal? Maybe, maybe not. What matters here though is the message that the movie gives, and the charm with which it delivers this. There is a quote from the film that sums it all up:

"The 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 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."

Go see this film, but not more than once in a while. Its message can be considered a bit "corny" by today's standards, but still has merit when taken at face value.

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