The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
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Critic Reviews for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
The rebelliousness that turns out to be good, old-fashioned anti-intellectualism feels less in line with the good Doctor's Whoville than with producer Stanley Kramer's Hackville
Inexplicably, this marvelous musical fantasy flopped at the box office.
One day I may understand all the fuss over this.
All this film really needs is one raised finger...
Audience Reviews for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Some creative visual live-action flourishes, but Dr. Seuss's work is better illustrated or animated. Contains what might be the oddest musical number ever, The Dungeon Song, with actors/dancers in badly painted green body paint playing Dr. Seuss style nonsensical instruments. The filmmakers attempt a Fantasia sort of extravaganza but the budget serious holds the production back. None of the other musical numbers became hits either. Dr. T (Conreid) plays a flamboyant piano teacher who forces 500 boys to rehearse. Bart (Tommy Rettig), in particular, would rather be outside playing with his dog. Rettig is amusing in breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. Most of the movie exists in Bart's mind as a fantasy nightmare. The movie would be unbearable if Rettig were not the lead. Real life couple Hayes and Healy play a kindly janitor and Bart's mom, respectively. Bart hopes his mom will choose the caring janitor rather than the dictatorial piano teacher. Unfortunately, all three adult leads leave a lot to be desired as they prance around this technicolor set. They simply never completely fill the massively open and empty sets with their voices or dancing.
A boy dreams he and his mother are trapped in a dream world ruled by evil piano teacher Dr. Terwilliger, who plans to enslave 500 boys to play his giant piano. Despite writing the story and libretto, Theodor Geisel (the Philistine!) notoriously hated this Technicolor spectacle, but you'll love the fantabulously surreal Seussian set design with its curved keyboards, ladders to nowhere, and roller-skating Siamese twin guards linked by their beards.
This is an odd movie, but it's based on a Dr. Seuss book, so this movie does a good job representing that. Overall the style is good, but the actors and songs aren't so great.
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