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




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, wrote and helped design this eccentric fantasy about a young boy named Bart (Tommy Rettig) who, like most young boys, doesn't enjoy his piano lessons with the mean-spirited Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). He figures his time would be better spent playing baseball with his friends or helping his grown-up buddy Arthur Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes), a plumber. One night, while fast asleep, Bart has a long and remarkable dream in which he's trapped in the kingdom of the fearsome Dr. T, who has enslaved hundreds of little boys, forcing them to practice on the world's largest piano until they drop. With the help of a friendly plumber, Bart plans a revolt that will topple Dr. T's evil empire once and for all. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T also features several songs for which Geisel contributed lyrics. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Animation , Kids & Family , Musical & Performing Arts , Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Sony Pictures Entertainment

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Hans Conried
as Terwilliker
Mary Healy
as Mother
Peter Lind Hayes
as Zabladowski
John Heasley
as Whitney
Henry Kulky
as Stroogo
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Critic Reviews for The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T

All Critics (14)

Colorful, culty Dr. Seuss Hollywood original.

Full Review… | August 26, 2010
Common Sense Media

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

Full Review… | September 6, 2009

It's as imaginatively framed as Alice in Wonderland.

Full Review… | October 15, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Inexplicably, this marvelous musical fantasy flopped at the box office.

Full Review… | April 8, 2007

One day I may understand all the fuss over this.

September 1, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

All this film really needs is one raised finger...

October 10, 2002
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

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.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

A game effort at making a live action Dr. Suess movie. The real world just isn't up to creating in front of a camera what Mr Geisel could draw on the page. The action is slowed by being acted out before us rather than leaping ahead at the turn of a page. As with The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter, our young hero is rewarded for surviving the peculiar adventure with a return to a comforting, conservative world. The most daring dangerous things about the movie seem to be referencing the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials: - handy, all-seeing view screens - dark, dirty dungeons - angular, leering villains - and a propensity for locking people in cages

Michael Harbour
Michael Harbour

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.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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