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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.

Director:

Roy Rowland

Writers:

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

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Cast

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)
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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:

Sound your "F" for Fabulous! See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because they were conjoined by a "Siamese beard," the roller-skating Heasley twins endured 90 days of rehearsal prior to production to ensure there were no mishaps on the set. See more »

Goofs

When Judson and Whitney are first seen rolling around on skates in the Piano Yard, Bart is seen poking his head out from behind a small pink piano in the background. In the context of the plot, Bart is supposed to be hiding at the top of the stairs to his mother's office. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Zabladowski: I've heard rumors about your operation.
Dr. Terwilliker: Rumors? Scuttlebutt! I can tell you all about the rumors! I'm a villain! I'm a loathsome racketeer! This money you see before you? I've stolen it from the pocketbooks of unsuspecting mothers. Filthy, lying rumors! Why, this is a problem that every great man faces! The rumors of corruption that breeds in high places, rumors seeking to discredit my noble aims. And now these have crept into me own house, vilifying and besmirching my honesty, my fair name, my...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: The Grinch vs. The Cat in the Hat (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Ten Happy Fingers
Music by Friedrich Hollaender (as Frederick Hollander)
Lyrics by Dr. Seuss
Performed by Tommy Rettig and Mary Healy
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The piano teacher from hell
26 March 2006 | by jotix100See all my reviews

Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, the wonderful writer of children's books, wrote the story in which this movie is based on. Allan Scott translated it for the screen and Roy Rowland directed the gorgeous Technicolor production that was shown recently on cable. This 1953 film relied on the use of color, which still shows crisp and sharp, something that other films using the technique didn't achieve.

The story reminds us a bit of "The Wizard of Oz", since it involves the vivid imagination of a young boy who is terrorized by his piano teacher. Since Bartholomew Collins doesn't have a father, his mother is the most important figure in his young life, until August Zabladowski, the best plummer in town, comes to the rescue and becomes a male role figure in the young boy's eyes.

The musical numbers, while not magnificent in comparison to MGM standards, are still well staged and the music by Frederick Hollander is tuneful to the ears. The amazing color cinematography by Franz Ploner gave this movie a great look and Al Clark's editing helped the story immensely.

The principals in the film do good work under Mr. Rowland's direction. The sweet looking Tommy Rettig, wearing his saddle shoes and beanie, steals the heart of the viewer with his earnest approach to the role of Bartholomew. Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy are seen as Mr. Zabladowski, and Mrs. Collins. Hans Conried's villainous Dr. T is one of the best assets of the film.

"The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T" is rarely seen these days, but it's worth a viewing for the sheer pleasure of the use of color and Dr. Seuss' wonderful timeless story.


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