7 Faces of Dr Lao

Tagged: Film

Film (1964). George Pal Productions/MGM. Produced and directed by George Pal. Written by Charles Beaumont, based on The Circus of Dr Lao (1935) by Charles Finney. Cast includes Noah Beery Jr, Barbara Eden, John Ericson, Arthur O'Connell and Tony Randall. 99 minutes. Colour.

The film is Fantasy, but warrants inclusion here as the work of a celebrated sf producer, based on an often-reprinted novel by an author much loved by sf readers. The hero of the film is really William Tuttle, whose make-up for Tony Randall in the leading role, and in the six fantastic shapes he adopts in order to teach a series of moral lessons to the people of the small town the circus is visiting, is astonishingly good for its pre-CGI time. The special effects by a team of five are good, too, but what were only a latent preachiness and sentimentality in the novel The Circus of Dr Lao threaten to swamp the film version, whose moralizing is trite and couched in surprisingly literary terms. A splendid sea serpent (supposedly the Loch Ness Monster), also played by Randall, helps to enliven the climax. [PN]

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