The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T

Watching this pioneering children’s film is like jumping into the pages of one of Dr. Seuss’s phantasmagoric books, and with good reason: Seuss, otherwise known as Theodore Geisel, conceived of the story, co-wrote the script and consulted on the design of the piece. And it shows. The sets and props and costumes and colours are put together in all sorts of gravity defying, delightfully impossible ways. The fact that this is a live action film makes its feats of imagination even more remarkable. In a time when we’re used to having our film miracles manufactured by computers, it is a wonderful thing to see a movie that does the impossible the hard way. Much of the story, as well as the attractive score (with songs featured) and choreography, reflect a similarly fresh eccentricity. It should be noted that this production, which involves a bored young pianist’s fantasies/nightmares about his evil piano teacher, had some faintly gratuitous romantic elements imposed upon it, probably to distract prospective audiences from its undeniable strangeness. As a result there are times when the film’s flights of fancy vie uncomfortably with some more conventional, earthbound parts. There is no need to pretend that these moments are not here, nor to key on them overly. The individualistic artist has always encountered hard travail in industrial settings, and the meeting between unique sensibilities and the prerogatives of mass production are often awkward. Not that the kids will care. Surrounded as we are by industrialized story-telling, it’s good to see something truly one-of-a-kind.

Dean Duncan

Film Info

Title: The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
Country of Origin: US
Running Time: 89 min
Language: English
Aspect Ratio:
Sound Mix: Mono
Color: Technicolor
Certification: US: G / Finland: K-8
Releasing Company: Columbia Pictures [us], Columbia TriStar [us] (laserdisc), RCA/Columbia (video), Xenon Video (video)
Producer: Stanley Kramer
Director: Roy Rowland
Writer: Dr. Seuss, Allan Scott
Cinematographer: Franz Planer
Designer: Rudolph Sternad
Editor: Al Clark, Harry W. Gerstad
Composer: Frederick Hollander, Hans J. Salter, Nelson Riddle, Heinz Roemheld, Robert Van Eps
Genre: Family / Musical / Fantasy