The bane of adolescent Bart Collins' existence is the piano lessons he is forced to take under the tutelage of Dr. Terwilliker, the only person he admits he detests because of his ... See full summary »
Once upon a time there were two people in love, their names were Nina and Jamie. They were even happy enough to be able to live happily ever after, (not often the case) and then Jamie died.... See full summary »
The bane of adolescent Bart Collins' existence is the piano lessons he is forced to take under the tutelage of Dr. Terwilliker, the only person he admits he detests because of his dictatorial nature. Bart feels Dr. Terwilliker has undue influence for these lessons on his widowed mother, Heloise Collins. The one person who sympathizes with Bart, although quietly on the sidelines, is the Collins' plumber, August Zabladowski. Bart hates his life associated with the piano so much he often daydreams when he practices and even during his lessons. His latest dream has him imprisoned in the fantastical Terwilliker Institute in the day before its grand opening. Terwilliker's second in command at the Institute is his mother, although she has been hypnotized into her position, which will also soon be as Mrs. Dr. Terwilliker. Bart tries to convince Mr. Zabladowski, who is there to install the Institute's plumbing, to save his mother and himself from Terwilliker. Bart also hopes that Zabladowski ... Written by
When Bart and Mr. Zadlabowski are taken to the dungeon via elevator, there is no reference to a third floor dungeon by the Elevator Operator. The third stanza of the Elevator Operator's song was cut due to increasingly horrific lyrics referring to "household appliances". The complete deleted stanza went as follows: "Third floor dungeon/Household appliances/Spiked beds/Electric chairs/Gas chambers/ /Roasting pots/And scalping devices." (The reference to "gas chambers" was probably regarded as in bad taste since the film was made so soon after World War II and the Holocaust.) See more »
When Bart hides in the large vase, he places a bunch of flowers on his head. When the guards lift him from the pot, they are on his head. In the cut-out shot moments later, the flowers have disappeared. See more »
"The 5.000 Fingers of Dr. T" is one of those 'sleepers' that have been turning up on video over recent years. As many commentators have said, the film is uneven in terms of inspiration. This is especially true on the musical level: only a couple of songs are memorable. Still, even the weaker ones are effective. But the film has a memorable, surrealistic set design with a marvelous color component.
A generally good cast compensates for any other deficiencies. As Bart, Tommy Rettig makes a terrific hero for his own dream/fantasy. (This film could almost be described as a lesser "Wizard of Oz"). Real life married couple Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy are fine as the 'parent' figures. While Hans Conried dominates every scene he is in: the wonderfully mean-spirited Dr. T. (The wonderful "Dress Me Up" song is irresistable).
But what truly makes this movie compulsory viewing is the brilliant dungeon ballet. Bart steals into the dark recesses below Dr. T's institute and discovers a beautifully realized nightmare world. All of Dr. T's non-piano-playing prisoners are incarcerated here, along with their instruments ('screechy violins, nauseating trumpets' etc). But this is no conventional scary, kid-movie sequence: the scene is staged as a major jazz ballet piece. The choreography is no less than ingenious. In their green leotards, these very musical 'boys' (including young George Chakiris) perform as rousing a dance number as has ever been put before the movie camera. And the musical score, at its peak here, is at one with the dancing.
Film historians tell us that "The 5.000 Fingers of Dr. T" was virtually ignored in its day. Perhaps it was too "weird" in 1953 for audiences who were already growing used to milder TV fare. But Conried's performance and the incredible ballet scene should assure it a place in fantasy film history for some time to come.
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