Sunday, 26 December 2010

Movie: 7 faces of Dr. Lao (1964)


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

I saw 7 faces of Dr. Lao awhile ago and it’s the kind of movie that sticks in your mind. Worth seeing, if you haven’t seen it yet.  It scores 7 stars on IMDb, but I’d give it 8, or even 9. Tony Randall plays 7 different characters, but he plays them so well as if they used 7 different actors. But his face as a Chinese man wasn’t all that convincing. Medusa was fascinating though. 

Movie is based upon a novel by Charles G. Finney called The circus of Dr. Lao. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s my intention to.

In a scene where Dr. Lao talks with Mike about life, I liked his monologue and the fact that afterwards admits that he doesn’t understand it, and goes on cheerfully jumping. To quote:
“The whole world is a circus if you know how to look at it. The way the sun goes down when you're tired, comes up when you want to be on the move. That's real magic. The way a leaf grows. The song of the birds. The way the desert looks at night, with the moon embracing it. Oh, my boy, that's... that's circus enough for anyone. Every time you watch a rainbow and feel wonder in your heart. 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're part of the Circus of Dr. Lao.”

A scene with the fortune-teller is also a very memorable, and it holds the naked truth. 

“Tomorrow will be like today, and the day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday. I see your remaining days as a tedious collection of hours full of useless vanities. You will think no new thoughts. You will forget what little you have known. Older you will become, but not wiser. Stiffer, but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you will remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture them.”

And after finding out a grim prophecy, she fix the make up and goes on pretending, living her life, like she knew how.  That's sounds so familiar. 

We want to hear how things will turn out great for us, with fortune and health in our hands. But if we live our lives, repeating the same day over and over is anything going to change?

If you've seen this movie, what where your thoughts?



  1. Thanks for posting this - and for punctuating it by writing out the dialog. It's quite a profound, powerful little scene. But it's sad how many people won't be able to grasp his meaning of "childless".

  2. And, may I say, leave it to someone of your insight to even find this.