The 5, 000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953)
June 10, 2022 7:41 AM - Subscribe

A young boy who detests taking piano lessons, Bart (Tommy Rettig) has developed a deep suspicion of his strict instructor, Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). When Bart ends up in a Seussian dreamworld, he must join with the local plumber to rescue his mom from Dr. T's clutches and stop his plan to force 500 boys to play a massive piano in perpetuity. A 1953 live-action musical from a screen play by Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel himself.

82% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Deeply and profoundly weird.

Currently available for digital rental in the US on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this as a young child and for the longest time thought that I must have dreamt it.
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:31 AM on June 10, 2022 [12 favorites]

I saw it on 16mm projected while at Catholic school around age 6 and every time I tried to describe it to someone else, they reacted like I was having some sort of episode.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:37 AM on June 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

This seems like a proto-Peanut Butter Solution.
posted by sixswitch at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2022

DirtyOldTown, you magnificent bastard! My brothers and I watched this on TV back when our ages were in the single digits. The main thing I remember is Bart whipping up some fake (but still smoking) molotov-cocktail-like bomb and threatening to blow the whole thing up.

One of the kidnapped boys: "Is that atomic?"

Bart: "It's very atomic!"

My brothers and I quoted "It's very atomic!" for years. I guess I'm going to have to watch it this weekend, aren't I.
posted by ejs at 8:10 PM on June 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

We've seen this a couple of times at MST Club, and it's a lot of fun!
posted by JHarris at 1:57 AM on June 11, 2022

Yep, saw this on Svengoolie, it is 800 percent bonkers.
posted by vrakatar at 10:08 AM on June 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just a few clips of this on afternoon TV gave me years of nightmares.
posted by sammyo at 4:52 AM on June 12, 2022

This is what a live-action Seuss movie should be. Utterly bonkers, fun, and gorgeous. This movie is in a category all its own.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Saw it a few times growing up, as a kid taking weekly piano lessons. (My piano teachers, on the whole, were pretty chill individuals, by comparison.)

Anyway I really came here to say

posted by pianoblack at 1:17 PM on June 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

Another vote for not believing one's eyes when seeing it. I was in a rental vacation condo with Miagaille in Myrtle Beach in 2006. We were all a bit loopy from some combination of a long drive, sun, and possibly a mild virus, and we were just sort of lazily flicking through channels when one of the musical numbers came on and then we flipped past it to weather.

And then we were like ... wait. What? Go back one.

Slowly one family member after another collected in front of the TV, our mouths gaping open. Most people didn't even manage to sit down - everyone was just kind of frozen in place wherever their eyes had first happened to catch the TV, like some kind of basilisk.

It was, for sure, a do-mi-do day.
posted by dmd at 4:41 AM on June 15, 2022 [1 favorite]

I saw this as a young child and for the longest time thought that I must have dreamt it.

OMG me too! Starting from when I was about 8 I carried an image of kids in a factory situation with the hats with hands until I was well into my 20s, when it seemed like it got rediscovered and the repertory theaters started playing it (or I discovered rep theaters). High five!
posted by rhizome at 10:51 AM on June 19, 2022

I read that there are 9 songs that didn't make it to the movie but we do have the music (though the footage has been lost so we can't see the dance sequences). May chase those down.
posted by brainwane at 12:04 PM on March 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

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