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The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953)

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A young boy travels to an imaginary world where, assisted by his family's plumber, he must save other piano playing kids like himself from the dungeons of his dictatorial piano teacher who also mind-controls his mother.


Roy Rowland


Dr. Seuss (screenplay), Allan Scott (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Peter Lind Hayes ... August Zabladowski
Mary Healy ... Heloise Collins
Hans Conried ... Dr. Terwilliker
Tommy Rettig ... Bartholomew Collins
Jack Heasley Jack Heasley ... Uncle Whitney (as John Heasley)
Robert Heasley Robert Heasley ... Uncle Judson
Noel Cravat Noel Cravat ... Sgt. Lunk
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Chakiris ... 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 new kind of entertainment that's got everything including the kitchen sink - and it's got 500 of those! See more »


G | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1 July 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Five-Thousand Fingers of Dr. T. See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA


Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Stereo (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The extravagant dungeon ballet sequence was intended to be seen immediately preceding Bart's discovery of Zabladowski in the Terwilliker Institute, but when the movie was re-edited, this scene was pushed back later in the film. See more »


When Dr. T catches Bart, his mother and Mr. Zabladowski trying to escape (after the fight with the twins), he is wearing a lavender coat with black trim when he first appears and says, "I, on the other hand, am inclined to doubt that." For the rest of the sequence, he wears a black coat with a pink treble clef and white stripes representing the five-line staff. See more »


Bart Collins: [Shows Zabladowsky his death warrant] So you didn't believe me. Your life isn't worth a pastoola!
Mr. Zabladowski: People should always believe in kids. People should even believe their lies!
See more »


Referenced in In Search of Dr. Seuss (1994) 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

Fascinating, truly unique film - excellent new DVD
4 May 2001 | by Bobs-9See all my reviews

I've been familiar with this relatively obscure film for quite a few years, and while I am not familiar with the various VHS versions of it, I have had the laserdisc version for at least a decade, or more. The new DVD release is amazingly superior to that edition in picture quality, in terms of definition, color and contrast. Even the darkest, shadowy portions of the picture are rendered in sharp detail in the DVD, whereas those areas in the laserdisc picture are just an indistinct, dark grey blur. The colors are stable and vibrant, as well. All this helps tremendously in presenting the vivid imagery of this film to best effect. If you have any regard for this film, you really should have this edition.

I can't add much to the accolades already posted for this fascinating, and genuinely unique, work of pure imagination. I've never seen a bad review of it. I might only make another mention of the hilarious `dressing-up' song that Hans Conried performs near the end of the film. Much comment has been made about the items Dr. T calls for in the lyrics (`undulating undies,' `purple nylon girdle,' `peek-a-boo blouse,' etc.). However, it should be pointed out to those yet unfamiliar with this film that these items bear no relation to the outfit in which he is actually being dressed, which is a cartoonishly-exaggerated drum major uniform. I guess you couldn't do THAT in 1953, at least not in such a mainstream venue. Those sophisticated enough to get the joke will get it, though, and the rest will find it strange, but amusing. My point is that despite all the bizarre and subversive attributes people have seen and commented on in this film, it is very much of its time in style, and decidedly family-friendly viewing. Anyone with a fondness for `Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' should appreciate this, and I'm not sure it isn't superior to that film in style, wit, and pure imaginative pizzaz.

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