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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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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Wonder Musical of the Future!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 July 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Five-Thousand Fingers of Dr. T.  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Bart Collins: I don't think the piano is my instrument.
Dr. Terwilliker: What other instruments are there, pray tell? Scratchy violins, screechy piccolos, nauseating trumpets, et cetera, et cetera?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Pineapple Express (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Dream Stuff
Music by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick Hollander)
Lyrics by Dr. Seuss
Performed by Peter Lind Hayes Tommy Rettig
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Happy Fingers
15 April 2005 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

A small boy plots to upset the grand performance by THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T. to be held in the sinister Terwilliker Institute.

The whimsical world of Dr. Seuss first saw expression in a Hollywood feature film in this fast-paced fantasy which examines a child's musical nightmare. Although it was a financial & critical disappointment when initially released, it has established itself comfortably as a nostalgic favorite for Baby Boomers who first discovered it decades ago.

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991) wrote the original story, co-authored the script and penned the lyrics in his own inimitable style. The action plays itself out over vast, curvaceous sets which will immediately seem familiar to readers of his books, while the brightly colored costumes make the players look like characters from the good Doctor's stories come to life.

Completely dominating the movie in the title role is the marvelous character actor Hans Conried (1917-1982), gleefully breathing life into the part of the mad piano teacher who schemes to force 500 little lads into performing his compositions at a gigantic keyboard. Conried is wonderfully funny, striding about, leering, snorting & chortling as he plots his nefarious plans. He attacks the role with relish, nasally enunciating every syllable with his unique diction, softening his villainy with a thin veneer of unctuous civility. This was Conried's finest on-camera performance, but 1953 would also present him in the part for which he is perhaps best remembered, voicing Captain Hook in Disney's animated PETER PAN.

The other three performers in the movie: Tommy Rettig as the much beleaguered boy attempting to thwart the evil Terwilliker; Mary Healy as his lovely, albeit mesmerized, Mom; and Peter Lind Hayes as a friendly, deadpanned plumber, all do very well with their roles, but their ordinariness, like that of Dorothy in Oz, make them pale in comparison beside Conried.

The film, which delivers perhaps an unnecessarily nasty knock to piano teachers, does come across with some fine songs, ranging from Rettig's plaintive 'Because We're Kids' to Conried's hilarious 'Dressing Song.' Also on view is the bizarre Dungeon Dance, in which kidnapped male orchestra members present one of the most unusual terpsichorean displays ever seen in a kiddie film.


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Deleted scenes. bpatrick-2
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I found this movie while under the influence.......... . soundboy1
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