The Circus of Dr. Lao

Finally got to see this on TMC last night! Joel’s finale in Mitchell always breaks my heart and I’m glad I finally got to watch the movie he quotes. Whatever happened to that commemorative plaque anyway?

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I read the book in college, and still have it. Very cool. I don’t think I ever saw the movie, though. I know Tony Randall and Barbara Eden were in it.

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@AndrewCrossett I’ve been reading about the book and I’d love to get ahold of a copy but no joy at the library.

Despite the movie’s yellowface issue, which is absolutely a problem, don’t get me wrong, The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is a charming movie and one of George Pal’s best.

Joel mispronounces his name.


@FlyingSquid absolutely. Like in a way, the character isn’t supposed to be any ethnicity, but still, kinda tacky orientalism. Definitely cringy and needs acknowledging. But the fact that Randall plays so many wild roles is amazing, and I like the overall story a lot. (And I’m always a sucker for old printing presses.)

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The name is pronounced in various ways, even by ‘Dr. Lao’ himself in the movie.

The book is a lot darker than the movie and includes a human sacrifice, so be warned.

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My head canon is that ‘Dr. Lao’ isn’t supposed to be Chinese at all, he’s just giving the people what they expect. There are some subtle clues to this - even he doesn’t pronounce his name consistently, he sometimes drops the accent altogether.

Kinda like Philip Ahn in ‘Something to Sing About’, which you should see if you haven’t.

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