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

Approved  |   |  Family, Fantasy, Music  |  1 July 1953 (USA)
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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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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!


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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?


Jello Biafra, the lead singer of the punk band The Dead Kennedys, once stated in an interview that this is his favorite movie. See more »


Various times through the movie, Heloise Collins's pink scarf alternates from her shoulder/arm, changing positions occasionally. See more »


Mrs. Collins: The work for the happy finger method must go on.
See more »


Referenced in Superjail!: Dream Machine (2008) See more »


Dressing Song: Do-Mi-Do Duds
Music by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick Hollander)
Lyrics by Dr. Seuss
Performed by Hans Conried
See more »

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User Reviews

Calling Tim Burton....
21 February 2004 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Accurately described elsewhere as a bridging film between WIZARD OF OZ and the 1971 WILLY WONKA, this Technicolor Halloween treat is one of Columbia's best children's films. Uncompromising in its clever and psychologically disturbing child's nightmare, it is a great Theodore Giesel adaptation and unforgettable for any intelligent child. One shudders to think it will be remade into multiplex junk like the disgraceful CAT IN THE HAT of 2003, this original and deliciously unsettling 1953 masterpiece deserves to be 'up there' with OZ and WONKA in the foremost influential kids films of the 20th century. Find it and lap it up.....and I dare any adult not to scream and climb backwards up their sofa when the elevator operator (the eyes in the square helmet guy) takes us all for a ride.Probably what FOX were trying for in MONKEYBONE and wasted $70 million dollars in the attempt. Maybe Tim Burton is the only person we can trust with a remake....given his success in many ways with the CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY release this year. DR T has production values and a Technicolor palette of perfect 50s imagery and is a stand alone classic in it's own right. I think really it is a boys version of The Wizard Of Oz. Sadly Tommy Rettig did not seem to have had a happy adult life and died in the last decade only in his fifties. Find Dr T on DVD and relish its lunacy and sense of style. Also, it is very camp with, as one friend said " an incredible amount of poncing about" by Hans Conreid...especially in his 'dress me up' song sequence...and sequins......The avant-garde dungeon number with the rejected players and their squarky boom-boom instruments is an astonishing and hilarious piece of choreography as modern and as idiotic as anyone in 2006 could think up. This is great fun, and even survives the horrible appearance of the genuinely uninteresting and unappealing Peter Hayes...see ZIS BOOM BAH for my insight into his (and Mommie dearest's) dreary Hollywood appearances.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Muscular elevator operator titch-2
Deleted scenes. bpatrick-2
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I found this movie while under the influence.......... . soundboy1
WAY better than the new movies they make of Dr. Seuss books... oliviakasle
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