“The whole world is a circus, if you know how to look at it.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
Unfortunately, the plot suffers whenever Randall is off the screen, and I suspect this may be the answer to Peary’s puzzlement over why the film hasn’t garnered more of a cult following over the years. I recently read the novel upon which the film is based (The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles Finney, originally published in 1935), and discovered that the underlying plot of the movie — about an imminent take-over of the town by greedy investors — was added on by the filmmakers, as was the romance between Barbara Eden’s single mother (simply a young, virginal teacher in the book) and John Ericson’s newspaper editor. Indeed, Finney’s unusual novel is ultimately more of a philosophical musing than a plot-driven story, and must have been somewhat difficult to translate to the screen.
Nonetheless, Dr. Lao is lots of fun once you get beyond the first twenty minutes or so — and it is certainly must-see (if not repeat) viewing for any film fanatic.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: