From white people playing Chicanos, we wind our way back to white people playing Asian people here in our penultimate “Whitewashing” episode with Tony Randall as the inscrutable, many-faced, many-accented Dr. Lao. Yes, THAT Tony Randall, of “Odd Couple” fame. Just the guy to play an aged Chinese gentleman, wouldn’t you say? This movie is a bit of a strange case, a cross-genre film that starts out looking like a Western and ends up as a fantasy/morality play. The small town of Abalone (where they’ve probably never seen a shellfish) is languishing while an Evil Rich Guy wants to buy out the town, because he secretly knows that the railroad is coming through and he’s itching to tie all the women of the town to the newly-installed railroad tracks while twirling his moustache. When suddenly who should show up, riding on a yellow donkey, but the mysterious Dr. Lao, who alternates between some attrocious “Me so solly” pidgin English and sounding like, well, Tony Randall (he also does a terrible French accent and a possibly worse Scottish accent). Will the wonders of his circus make the townsfolk realize what’s really important in life? Will the one Native American character in this movie get any actual lines? Give a listen and find out!
Poll question: who is the most famous movie actor that you, personally, have ever met? Not just seen across a room or in an elevator but someone you actually spoke to (even if it was just “Hey, that’s my wallet!!”)
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