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The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953)

Approved | | Family, Fantasy, Music | 1 July 1953 (USA)
2:05 | Trailer

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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 »



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



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Complete credited cast:
Mary Healy ...
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?


Originally there was a subplot in which Bart was expected to emulate his musical great-uncles, who later appear in Dr. Terwilliker's institute conjoined by a long beard. Twin skaters Jack Heasley and Robert Heasley were lured out retirement to play the roles, but the subplot and their musical numbers were eliminated, and only a photo of the twins in Bart's home and their bizarre death waltz were retained in the final cut of the movie. 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 »


Elevator operator: [Dungeon elevator song] First floor dungeon/Assorted simple tortures/Molten lead, chopping blocks and hot boiling oil/Second floor dungeon/Jewelry department/Leg chains, ankle chains, neck chains, wrist chains, thumbscrews and nooses of the very finest rope/Basement dungeon/EVERYBODY OUT!
See more »


Referenced in Psych: Cog Blocked (2014) See more »


Music by Euphemia Allen
Played by all the boys on the giant keyboard, led by Tommy Rettig
See more »

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User Reviews

A little boy battles an evil piano teacher out to rule the world.
10 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An alienated boy misunderstood by his parents at home rebels against an exacting piano teacher whom he finds out has a sinister plot to rule the world.

I remember it best for its plaintive song "You Have No Right to Push Us Kids Around" later revived by Jerry Lewis in his TV appearances. The song is a cry about the angst of childhood. Part of the lyrics goes something like this: "Just because you have hair on your chest doesn't mean you're the best. Just because you have stayed longer on this planet doesn't mean you own it. You have no right to push us kids around just because we're closer to the ground." Under the megalomaniac piano teacher's plan, all children would be condemned to an eternity of piano practice trying to catch up with the ever increasing beat of a metronome. Spectacular "blow up" endings such as in James Bond movies satirized by Don Adams (Maxwell Smart) or even Mike Myers (Austin Powers) must have taken inspiration from this very early attempt at such.

Much belatedly did I find out that this story is by the revered "Dr." Seuss (he is not a real doctor you know) famous for witty, whimsical stories written in cute rhyming verses about outlandish animals (Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in a Hat)but praised by educators for their effectiveness in getting children to read. Seuss deserves Ph.Ds in education, psychology and literature even posthumously.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Deleted scenes. bpatrick-2
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