The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
|The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Roy Rowland|
|Produced by||Stanley Kramer|
|Screenplay by||Dr. Seuss
|Based on||Dr. Seuss|
Peter Lind Hayes
|Music by||Frederick Hollander
Hans J. Salter
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 1, 1953|
|Running time||92 minutes|
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) is a musical fantasy film, the only feature film ever written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), who was responsible for the story, screenplay and lyrics. It was directed by Roy Rowland, with many takes actually directed, uncredited, by producer Stanley Kramer. It earned a 1953 Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Filmed in 1952, just before a transition to widescreen formats began, it was visually composed for the then-standard 1.375:1 Academy aspect ratio and photographed in color by the three-strip Technicolor process. It was re-released in 1958 under the title Crazy Music.
Young Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) lives with his widowed mother Heloise (Mary Healy). The major blight on Bart's existence is the hated piano lessons he is forced to endure under the tutelage of the autocratic Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). Bart feels that his mother has fallen under Terwilliker's ominous influence, and gripes to visiting plumber August Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes), without much result. While grimly hammering away at his lessons, Bart dozes off and enters a fantastical musical dream, in much the same fashion as Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz.
In the dream, Bart is trapped at the surreal Terwilliker Institute, where the piano teacher is now a madman dictator who has imprisoned non-piano-playing musicians. He also built a piano so large that it requires Bart and 499 other boys (hence, the 5,000 fingers) in order to play it. Bart's mother has been turned into Terwilliker's hypnotized assistant and bride-to-be, and Bart must dodge the Institute's guards as he scrambles to save both his mother and himself. He tries to recruit Mr. Zabladowski, who has been hired to install all of the Institute's lavatories ahead of a vital inspection, but only after much skepticism and foot-dragging is the plumber finally convinced to help. The two of them empty their pockets and construct a noise-sucking contraption which ruins the mega-piano's opening concert. The enslaved boys cheerfully run riot, and the "VERY atomic" noise-sucker explodes in spectacular fashion, bringing Bart out of his dream.
The movie ends on a hopeful note for Bart, when the real-life Mr. Zabladowski finally notices Heloise, and offers to drive her into town in his jeep. Bart escapes from the piano, and triumphantly runs off to play.
Featured cast 
|Tommy Rettig||Bart Collins|
|Mary Healy||Heloise Collins|
|Hans Conried||Dr. Terwilliker|
|Peter Lind Hayes||August Zabladowski|
The singing voice of Tommy Rettig was dubbed by Tony Butala, the founder of The Lettermen.
Healy and Hayes were married in real life when they made the movie.
Although he had written the original treatment and all the song lyrics, Geisel regarded the finished film as a "debaculous fiasco" and omitted any mention of it in his official biography with Random House.
At the Hollywood premiere, patrons walked out on the film after 15 minutes, and box-office receipts were equally disappointing. Nevertheless, the film has gained a cult following over the years, and has been favorably compared to the live-action adaptations of Seuss's works made since his death.
Musical score 
The film is almost entirely musical, with either background music or actual musical numbers. Composed by Frederick Hollander (born Friedrich Hollaender) with lyrics by Dr. Seuss, the score was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953. Along with standard orchestral instruments, the score also uses a theremin. A soundtrack CD was released by él records in association with Cherry Red Records (ACMEM126CD). In addition to the film's score the CD includes ten tracks that were not included in the film. They are:
- "My Favorite Note" (Hans Conried)
- "Oh! We Are the Guards" (The rollerskating Siamese Twins)
- "I Will Not Get Involved", Parts 1 and 2 (Peter Lind Hayes)
- "Grindstone" (Peter Lind Hayes)
- "Money" (Peter Lind Hayes)
- "Terwilliker" (Hans Conried and Mary Healy)
- "I Will Not Go To Sleep" (Hans Conried)
- "Many Questions" (Mary Healy)
- "One Moment Ago" (Chorus version. Photos exist of Hayes and Healy singing this in a duet, but the track is lost.)
- "One Moment Ago" (Orchestral version)
The "Elevator Song", intoned by an elevator operator who resembled a hooded executioner, originally contained four verses in the original release of the film. The third verse, THIRD FLOOR DUNGEON, was edited out for the re-release and television runs of the film, and also the current restoration for DVD release of the film.
As filmed and originally released the lyrics were as follows:
FIRST FLOOR DUNGEON
Assorted simple tortures.
Molten lead, chopping blocks
And hot boiling oil.
SECOND FLOOR DUNGEON
Leg chains, ankle chains,
Neck chains, wrist chains, thumb screws
And nooses of the very finest rope.
THIRD FLOOR DUNGEON
Spike beds, electric chairs,
gas chambers, roasting pots,
and scalping devices.
Ev'ry body out!
Influences on other works 
- A Broadway musical version of the film, with a new score by Glen Roven, was developed in 2000.
- The character of Bart Collins has been adapted to a UK anti-drugs advertisement promoting the service "Talk to Frank", a drugs advice line. He appears in various locations asking questions such as "What do you use this vase for?" (about a piece of drug paraphernalia), and "How long are you going to feel like that for?" (to a girl experiencing the after-effects of a drug high).
- The Simpsons villain, Sideshow Bob, was given his last name "Terwilliger" from this film. Sideshow Bob is Bart Simpson's nemesis, as Dr. Terwilliker is Bart Collins' nemesis.
- Dialogue from the film was sampled by the Cuban Boys for their song "Ten Happy Fingers", released on the Old Skool for Scoundrels EP.
- The blue hat that reads "Happy fingers" with a yellow hand on top is worn by someone in the DVD of In Search of Dr. Seuss.
- The musical group Mr. Bungle regularly performed a cover of "3rd Floor Dungeon" during performances supporting their self-titled debut album.
- A sample of Dr. Terwilliker saying "Still not loud enough! Still not fast enough!" was used by American grindcore band Brutal Truth on the track "Dementia" from their 1997 album Sounds of the Animal Kingdom.
- The film's main title displays a 1952 copyright date (MCMLII in roman numerals), indicating completion, although not necessarily in its final form, by the end of that year.
- Judith Morgan and Neil Morgan, Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel: A Biography (NY: Da Capo Press, 1996). p. 136.
- Thomas Fernsch, The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss (NY: New Century Books, 2001), pp. 104-105
- Lefkowitz, David (2001-09-27). "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T Will Have to Wait Till 2003". Playbill.com. Retrieved 2009-12-13.
- Carroll, Larry (2007-07-26). "'Simpsons' Trivia, From Swearing Lisa To 'Burns-Sexual' Smithers". MTV. Retrieved 2007-07-29.
- The complete movie online for free viewing, from Crackle
- The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T at the Internet Movie Database
- The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T at AllRovi
- The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T at the TCM Movie Database
- Tribute to the film (archived) http://web.archive.org/web/20071008032650/http://hometown.aol.com/seivadj18/5000fingers.html
- Original 1953 theatrical trailer for film