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Sunday, November 05, 2006

CD REVIEW - 7 Faces of Dr. Lao

7 Faces of Dr. Lao
Music by Leigh Harline
Film Score Monthly Vol. 9 No.11 (U.S.)
33 Tracks 59:55 mins

George Pal's fantasy from 1964 starred the popular Tony Randall, principally as travelling circus showman Dr. Lao, but through various makeups he also played many of fantastical characters that populated the circus, including Marlin, Pan, Medusa and Greek sage Appolonius. It's a film I'd very much like to see, but one which just doesn't get any airings on U.K. TV for some strange reason.
Anyway, as for the music, because the film is set in the Old West, Lao's theme, which is really the heart and soul of the score, is initially heard over the "Main Title" as a mixture of typically western and oriental travel music. It's a very catchy theme indeed and one that is always welcome when it subsequently makes its many appearances, some of them as Mandolins-lead circusy cues.
Of course the many interesting characters populating the film gave composer Harline the opportunity to use his imagination in creating widely different themes, like the wistful oboe-lead Merlin's Theme; the mischievous, flute-lead dance for Pan; the exotic soprano sax-lead Medusa theme; and the wild bagpipe music for the Loch Ness Monster. These, allied to the always enjoyable circus source cues, all make for a thoroughly entertaining mix.
The score runs some 49 minutes, but the disc concludes with another 10 minutes of bonus cues, mostly demo versions of some of the themes, and there is of course the usual colourful accompanying booklet, with artwork and stills from the film, together with informative notes and cue-by-cue guide by Jeff Bond, Ross Care and Lukas Kendall.
For more information and sound clips, visit, and while you're at it, you might like to check out the other FSM releases and browse through Screen Archives' extensive catalogue of soundtrack releases from all over the world, taking in the sound clips to help guide you in your purchases.


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