Director: George Pal/Writers: Charles Beaumont, Charles G. Finney
Cast: Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, Arthur O'Connell, Noah Beery Jr.
I saw a couple negative reviews of this essentially well made film online. A couple had some issues with Tony Randall, a white American, playing a Chinese man. I really had no issues with this and do not feel fantasy films of the 60's is the best place to vent one's political correctness. It is so strange and out of place to hear people rant in a serious tone about the racist and sexist nature of older films as if modern cinema has finally raised itself above all that. Some other complaints were that the story line was lame and vacuous essentially and the film was preachy and condescending. What are these people talking about? First off the film leans towards a younger audience and like most films aimed at kids (like every animated movie made these days) is going to rely on cliches and gimmicks to deliver its message. It is well made, well acted with great make up by William Tuttle and decent special effects for the time. Does it stereotype Asians at times and is some of the plot more than a little corny and predictable? Certainly. But is it loaded with overt racism, sexism and pedantic, patronizing dialogs? Well, yea maybe. But that is still no reason to not watch this likable film by director George Pal (Atlantis, the Lost Continent, The Time Machine).
Admittedly some performances and dialog is a little annoying. The little kid who runs crying after Dr. Lao is just too much little to much like the ending of Shane. And while during the same scene he starts juggling with some golden balls left by Dr. Lao and begins crying as he says "Look Dr. Lao I can do it! I can do it!" things descend in the utterly corny, it also sort of got to me if I was to be honest. I can be a sentimental sap at times.
Barbara Eden is effortlessly sexy and Arthur O'Connell plays the same role he always did in fine fashion. Also appearing in a small role is Noah Berry as the newspaper editor. There is a lot of crap out there to watch and waste out lives on but this is not some of it. It is a good movie if you are a fan of old Disney style films directed at a kid's matinee. Look for catastrophe scenes from Pal's Atlantis, the Lost Continent The time Machine and If you are offended by stereotypes then maybe you should avoid it as you may be offended. But if you are cool with white guys playing orientals once in a while then, as Dr. Loa might say, "I leccommend you see dis film chop, chop!"
THE FORTUNE TELLING SCENE FROM 7 FACES OF DR. LAO