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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 »





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?


The beginning and ending shots of the movie perfectly exemplify the "shooting-out-of-sequence" practice in film-making. You'll notice that the same exact camera setup is used for both shots, with Tony wearing the exact same costume. He simply rides toward the camera for the beginning of the story, and away from the camera for the end. Even the shadows from the sun are in the same alignment. 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 »


Lean Cowboy: Who's that, anyway?
Fat Cowboy: I don't know. Looked like a Jap to me.
Toothless Cowboy: Nah, he's Chinese.
Fat Cowboy: How do you know?
Toothless Cowboy: 'Cause I ain't stupid.
See more »


Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 16 August 1964 (1964) See more »


Sumer is icumen in
Traditional 13th century English round
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Classic Allegory Contains Profound Messages
9 January 2001 | by hans101067See all my reviews

There's a proverb somewhere that states that youth is wasted on the young.One might similarly feel that the wisdom of fairy tales,folklore,and fantasy are wasted on children.While I,for one would hesitate to go that far,I feel that the messages contained in this film,like so many other classic children's stories,are best understood in an articulate fashion by adults.Kids will unconsciously and intuitively pick up the meanings,but it requires more maturity and life experience to fully appreciate what's going on here.So,here ends my pontificating,and begin the review.The plot with Arthur O'Connell trying to take over the town is a simple,relatively benign framework to introduce the real story;the necessity of looking at ourselves,our flaws,our foibles,and the illusions we need to protect ourselves,and to keep on living.And the circus of Dr.Lao does provide that chance,in a gentle and compassionate way.We can complain about the dated quality of the special effects,but don't forget,this was 14 years before Star Wars.The villains are a couple of stupid oafs who are easily disposed of in a benevolent fashion,and the other characters are shown the ways in which they stunt their own development,and then are given the chance to change IF THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO!(Let's face it,some of them decide to stay the same.)Randall gives a tour de force performance as the circus cast(although I believe that stuntman Janos Prohaska actually did the Abominable Snowman)and the true development of Merlin,from doddering has-been to capable miracle worker is am impressive display of character creation and sustenance.(I've always wondered if the bagpipes accompanying the growth of the Loch Ness Monster was some sort of inside joke.)This is the kind of film that the entire family should see together;everyone could get something out of it.

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