This is the circus of Dr. Lao.
We show you things that you don't know.
Oh we spare no pains and we spare no dough,
We want to give you one hell of a show!
7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
An old Chinese man arrives in the Arizona town of Abalone, riding a golden mule and carrying only a pipe and a fishbowl. He goes into the local newspaper office and places an ad in the paper. His name is Dr. Lao, and he has brought his circus to town.
Abalone is a town at a crossroads. Clint Stark (Arthur O'Connell), the richest man in the territory, is trying to buy everyone’s land. The only man opposing Stark is Ed Cunningham (John Ericson), the newspaper’s editor. Ed’s only been in Abalone for one year, but he has a crusading journalist's soul and believes in fighting the good fight. He also has a vested interest in the town; he’s carrying a torch for librarian Angela Benedict (Barbara Eden), a prim and severe young widow who adamantly rejects his advances. Angela lives with her 9 year-old son, Mike (Kevin Tate) and her mother-in-law, and works hard trying to convince herself that she doesn’t need another man in her life.
At a town meeting, Stark gives the citizens a few days to make up their minds to sell out. He warns them that the town is going nowhere fast, and that they better take him up on his offer now while they still can. Ed argues that any place where people live and work together has value, and to hold out against Stark. Dr. Lao also attends the meeting, and watches everything with interest.
Arthur O'Connell as Clint Stark
Stark is an interesting villain. He respects Ed for standing up to him, and for fighting against the odds. Stark has been betting on human weakness for most of his life.
Stark: I was like you once, a long time ago. I believed in the dignity of man...decency…
humanity. But I was lucky. I found out the truth early, boy.
Ed: And what is the truth, Stark?
Stark: It’s all very simple. There’s no such thing as the dignity of man. Man is a base, pathetic, vulgar animal.
Meanwhile, Mike bonds with Dr. Lao, and Ed tries to get some information on the enigmatic stranger. From seemingly out of thin air, Lao has conjured a large, multicolored circus tent, along with a caravan, a calliope machine and other trappings of the trade. The members of his circus include the Abominable Snowman, the ancient wizard, Merlin, the blind seer Apollonius, the frightful Medusa, the sarcastic, talking Giant Serpent and the god Pan.
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