Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
The Seven Faces
of Dr. Lao is based on Charles G. Finney's The
Circus of Dr. Lao. While filming The Wonderful
World of the Brothers Grimm, George had asked Charles
Beaumont, the screenwriter, if he had any projets he had been
unable to sell. Beaumont responded with Dr. Lao. Pal was intriguesd
and asked to read the novel. Beaumont did better by bringing George
a threatment he had already written for it.
So, I read the threatment and flipped It was great, absolutely
great and that's the way it all began."
Beaumont finished the
final script and sent iot to Pal while still filmingin Germany.
Pal hoped to get Peter Sellers to play the lead and stopped in
London before returning to Hollywood to pitch the idea to Sellers.
Sellers was currently filming and woudn't be able to rewad the
script for a few days. Pal had to return to Hollywood also so
Sellers would contact Pal there after he had a chance to read
I left. Then an hour later he called me at my hotel, saying
'George, can I come over?' He rushed right over and said, "I
strated to read your script and just couldn't put it down. May
I read the parts for you?' And he read all the parts. His interpretation
of the characters was very exciting...So I thought, 'This is
great. It's all set. We'll have Peter Sellers. No one can resist
But M.G.M. wanted Tony
Randall, and so...
William Tuttle again
was called in, this time to transform Randall into the multitude
of my preconceived notions on how I would play the characters
vanished. As soon as Tuttle applied his makeup magic, I felt
myself actually become these strange paople. I didn't recognize
myself, so I felt as much at home in one make-believe character
William Tuttles makeup
prompted the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to award
a special Academy Award for makeup.
is an incredible actor. I had a great time working with him.
He would begin to become the particular part the moment Bill
Tuttle began to put the makeup on. For instance, when he had
Dr. Lao's makeup on he would gradually become Chinese. He wopuld
talk and act Chinese. When he had on Merlin's makeup gadually
he would become a very old man. So that when he came onto the
sound stage he was the character, even when the camera
was not running. People would have to open doors for him because
he was too old to do it for himself."
For the visual effects,
Pal returned once again to Project Unlimited. The most labor intesive
effect was the Loch Ness Monster. The filming of twenty different
models to show the monster grow from a small minnow to a large
Sea Serpent took three months to film and resulted in 9 minutes
of footage. The sequence was animated by Jim Danforth and earned
him an Oscar nomination.
Although Dr. Lao didn't
do well at the box office, George Pal had hopes of making it into
a series for television starring Alan Young. Unfortunately another
project which did not become reality.
Seven Faces of Dr. Lao is available on dvd through