I missed out.
Seems that I somehow spent my childhood in total ignorance of
"The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" the 1953 live-action
Dr. Seuss musical extravaganza. In fact, I didn't see the film at all
until my freshman year of college. But since then, I've been scrambling
to make up for lost time. In the years since I first experienced "Dr. T"
I've made it my mission to make sure that more people know about this fine
bit of filmmaking. The video
is widely available, as is the dvd,
still-circulating prints are old favorites at revival houses. In short,
you have no excuse not to see this film.
a little background...
"The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" first graced movie
screens in 1953. Though not much of a commercial success, it did at least
garner one Academy Award nomination that year for Best Musical Score which
it lost to "Call Me Madam." (And does that film have a cult
following? I think not) The rest of the film's cast and crew went on to
have illustrious careers beyond the children's film genre. The lead
co-stars, Peter Lind Hayes (Mr. Zabladowski) and Mary Healy (Mrs.
Collins), already Broadway stars, continued to develop their film careers
together; Hans Conreid (Dr. T) and Tommy Rettig (Bart) found great success
on TV (remember him from "Lassie"?) and the big screen; though production
designer Rudolph Sternad's breathtaking work in "5,000 Fingers" was
overlooked by the Academy, he went on to enjoy a total of three
nominations for later films. And of course we all know about the
illustrious career of the film's screenwriter and lyricist, Dr. Seuss.
The Hollywood studio execs knew that this film was something special and
had not gotten the reception is deserved. "The 5,000 Fingers of
Dr. T" - indeed an "all new kind of wonder-musical" as its
tagline avers - was almost too new for 1953. Thus, the film was
re-released some years later under the apt but trite title "Crazy Music."
However, it wasn't until those hazy, crazy days of the sixties that a new
fan base raised their droopy lids and chuckled appreciatively. The
stream-of-consciousness story-line, Dali-esque sets and bizarre musical
numbers eventually found a small but avid cult following that appreciated
the hallucinatory and psychedelic style of filmmaking.
The unique weltanschuung of this film is especially impressive when
one considers that it was created as an Eisenhower-era children's musical.
By presenting the film as an extended child's fantasy "5,000 Fingers" goes
well beyond the boundaries of juvenile cinema established by Disney
Studios; even "Fantasia" can't hold a candle to this extravaganza. From
the brutally funny "Dungeon Song" to the charming ode to cross dressing,
"Do-Me-Do Duds," Dr. Seuss's story pushes the envelope of conventional
Need proof of this blanket statement? Check out some of the lyrics
html-ized here. You won't be disappointed. Bear in mind, however, that
simply reading the lyrics is no substitute for watching the movie
CHECK IT OUT...
Bill is as at least as wacky about Dr. T as I am.
And he has created a new Dr. T site that actually delivers on the promise
of real, honest-to-goodness music files on the site, including -- are you
sitting down? -- the deleted songs. Go there, my friends.
fellow seuss-enthusiasts, feel free to write to me and share the joy of 5,000
fingers. raise hands!
my e-mail (spam-proofed):
v v v (at) q 7 (dot) com