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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.


George Pal


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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Randall ... Dr. Lao / The Abominable Snowman / Merlin the Magician / Apollonius of Tyana / Pan / The Giant Serpent / Medusa
Barbara Eden ... Angela Benedict
Arthur O'Connell ... Clint Stark
John Ericson ... Ed Cunningham / Transformed Pan
Noah Beery Jr. ... Tim Mitchell
Lee Patrick ... Mrs. Howard Cassin
Minerva Urecal ... Kate Lindquist
John Qualen ... Luther Lindquist
Frank Kreig Frank Kreig ... Peter Ramsey
Peggy Rea ... Mrs. Peter Ramsey
Eddie Little Sky ... George C. George
Royal Dano ... Carey
Argentina Brunetti ... Sarah Benedict
John Doucette ... Lucas
Dal McKennon Dal McKennon ... Lean Cowboy


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) See more »

Also Known As:

Seven Faces of Dr. Lao See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

George Pal Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


William Tuttle received an Honorary Academy Award for his make-up work on this movie. It was the first of two Honorary Oscars awarded for make-up - the other one being John Chambers for Planet of the Apes (1968). It was not until 1982 that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to create a Best Make-Up category; An American Werewolf in London (1981) was the first film to win the award. See more »


When Merlin first appears to Ed outside the tent a pipe at the base of the tent emits a cloud of white smoke so Merlin can "magically" appear. It continues to give several little spurts of smoke after he appears and while he is talking to Ed. See more »


Clint Stark: I was like you once, long time ago. I believed in the dignity of man. Decency. Humanity. But I was lucky. I found out the truth early, boy.
Ed Cunningham: And what is the truth, Stark?
Clint Stark: It's all very simple. There's no such thing as the dignity of man. Man is a base, pathetic and vulgar animal.
See more »


Referenced in McHale's Navy: The Seven Faces of Ensign Parker (1965) See more »


Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565
(1708) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Wonderfully unique fantasy with amazing performance by Tony Randall
20 May 2004 | by tkinnee2001See all my reviews

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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