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

by Paul on January 3, 2013

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 ★

 

After the first fifteen minutes of “The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T”, one might think they are about to see some brilliant fantasy filmmaking. Unfortunately, over the next 77 minutes, you will be tremendously disappointed with what constitutes one ofThe 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953) the biggest debacals in my recent memory.

The story, screenplay and song lyrics were written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), in what constituted his only venture into feature filmmaking. Even he thought this film was a disaster and wanted nothing to do with the final product. Interestingly, the best pieces of “The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T” are the different aspects of art direction, set decoration and costumes that appears if they came right off of the pages of one of Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s stories. Perhaps with a director that had an artistic and creative eye for the possibilities of Dr. Seuss’ story and imagination (like The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953)Tim Burton or Terry Gilliam), this film could have been successful. Then again, had this film been anything but a catastrophy, Dr. Seuss may have stayed in the movie business, thus hindering his soon to be released books: Horton Hears A Who (1955), The Cat In The Hat (1957), How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) and Green Eggs And Ham (1960).

The story of “The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T” revolves around young Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) and his distain for the piano lessons that his mother (Mary Healy) is forcing him to endure under Dr. Terwiliker (Hans Conried). Bart’s only solace is from his mother’sThe 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953) plumber, Mr. Zabadowski (Peter Lind Hayes), who believes he should be allowed more time to run and play with his dog.

After a brief introduction with our characters, Bart begins to dream after falling asleep at the piano, and his dream world is exactly what we have come to expect from something bearing the Dr. Seuss name. Uneven staircases and ceilings that could have come right out of “The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari” (1920), and villains as comical as their costumes fill each and every scene. In this dream world, the evil Dr. T has created a school where easy going little boys are forced to spend countless hours practicing their piano playing. Dr. T has built an enormous piano that has enough room to fit 500 boys playing at The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953)the same time. The other children are expected to arrive the following day, so Bart has only one night to destroy Dr. T’s menacing plan. Bart has also discovered that his mother has been put under a spell and is assisting Dr. T against her will. The only help he has is that of Mr. Zabadowski, who is installing sinks for Dr. T.

The story is ridiculous, which could be expected, but the major flaw lies in the fact that it’s flat out boring. The story doesn’t hold anyone’s attention, and the songs are beyond tedious. The lyrics are meant to be comical, but there is nothing funny about them. At some point you begin praying that Dr. T achieves his goal so the film can end.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

R.A. Kerr January 6, 2013 at 6:42 PM

I think congratulations are in order. You actually SAT THROUGH this movie?

You’re made of sterner stuff than I.

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Paul January 6, 2013 at 8:33 PM

I’ll be honest and say that the only reason I watched this horrible film was because it came in a Stanley Kramer box set, and I don’t put movies into my collection until I have seen them. I have seen the other four movies from this set multiply times, but in order for me to finally put this set with the rest of my collection, I had to sit through this last film. It was painful, but now it’s over!
P.S. Although I gave everyone else in my house an opportunity to watch with me, they all declined. Go figure.

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