The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953)

Approved  |   |  Family, Fantasy, Music  |  1 July 1953 (USA)
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Reviews: 93 user | 34 critic

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 »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Peter Lind Hayes ...
Heloise Collins
Jack Heasley ...
Uncle Whitney (as John Heasley)
Robert Heasley ...
Uncle Judson
Noel Cravat ...
Sgt. Lunk
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dancer (as George Kerris)


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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Wonder Musical of the Future!


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 July 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Five-Thousand Fingers of Dr. T.  »

Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Dr. Seuss, the film's creator and co-writer, one of the 150 boys vomited on the piano while filming. This caused a chain reaction and they were left with 150 vomiting boys. Dr. Seuss said that the film's reviews were similar. See more »


Throughout the whole of the instrumental scene, with the various performers, there are so many continuity, revealing and a/v mismatch goofs that it would be impossible to record them all. See more »


Stroogo: Now I don't recollect your features, do I?
Bart Collins: No...
Stroogo: [looks in his book] You a piccolo player?
Bart Collins: No.
Stroogo: Trombone player?
Bart Collins: No.
Stroogo: Violin player?
Bart Collins: No, a... piano player.
Stroogo: [shuts his book] Then you have no right in this particular dungeon! This is reserved exclusive for non-piano players!
Bart Collins: Non-piano players?
See more »


Referenced in Grand Piano (2013) See more »


The Dungeon Song
Music by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick Hollander)
Lyrics by Dr. Seuss
Sung by masked, uncredited cast member
See more »

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User Reviews

Nightmare for children, heaven for adults!
20 June 2004 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

Of course this is not really a movie for children. The structure of the movie is similar to "Wizard of Oz", beginning with a child which seems to be frustrated with the real life and then dreaming into another world, full of magicians, witches, fabulous adventures and so on. But while "Wizard of Oz" is funny, the characters can simply be divided in "good" and "bad", the adventures can be understood - in "5,000 Fingers" the little boy enters a nightmare! Funny and helpful characters are emotional disturbing. A witch can be recognized as fabulous being, but a piano-teacher is close to real life, and Dr. T. is much more frightening than the evil witch from Oz! The decoration and especially the musical numbers are fantastic, think of the bearded twins on skaters! Fantastic! The psychology of the movie is excellent: A boy suffering from the lack of a father is afraid that his beloved mother is hypnotized by a strange man and will marry him. Certainly thousands of children at any time are fearing such a situation. Literature and cinema are full of this theme, think of "Alice in Wonderland", "Fanny and Alexander" and so on. Really interesting is the time at which this movie was made. During the 50s almost everything was nice and perfect, and here you have a nice and perfect Musical showing frightening, fear, the "other side" of everything. - Here in Germany I am desperately waiting for getting it on DVD or TV! This movie is quite unknown and perhaps unpopular for its content. But believe me: It's one of the "pearls" in movie history!

43 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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