The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

89-90 mins | Fantasy | August 1953

Director:

Roy Rowland

Producer:

Stanley Kramer

Cinematographer:

Frank F. Planer

Editor:

Al Clark

Production Designer:

Rudolph Sternad

Production Company:

Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

"Dr. Seuss" was the pen name of Theodor Geisel, animator, cartoonist and author of numerous children's books. According to an item in HR , twins Robert and John Heasley, who had previously skated with former Olympic champion and actress Sonja Henie and reached acclaim as a skating act, came out of retirement to appear in the film. Radio, stage and television star Peter Lind Hayes, whose previous film was the 1948 release The Senator Was Indiscreet , returned to Hollywood for The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. with his wife and co-star, Mary Healy. Another HR item indicates that director Roy Rowland made a cameo appearance in the film as a doorman. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Musical ... More Less

"Dr. Seuss" was the pen name of Theodor Geisel, animator, cartoonist and author of numerous children's books. According to an item in HR , twins Robert and John Heasley, who had previously skated with former Olympic champion and actress Sonja Henie and reached acclaim as a skating act, came out of retirement to appear in the film. Radio, stage and television star Peter Lind Hayes, whose previous film was the 1948 release The Senator Was Indiscreet , returned to Hollywood for The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. with his wife and co-star, Mary Healy. Another HR item indicates that director Roy Rowland made a cameo appearance in the film as a doorman. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Musical Score. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Jun 52
p. 248, 264-66.
American Cinematographer
Jan 53
pp. 16-17, 42.
Box Office
20 Jun 1953.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jun 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Jul 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 1952
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 53
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Jun 53
p. 1877.
New York Times
20 Jun 53
p. 8.
New York Times
28 Jun 53
sec. II, p. 1.
Variety
17 Jun 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story and conception
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Ed supv
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Healy's gowns by
SOUND
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ten Happy Fingers," "Dream Stuff," "Getting Together Weather," "Victory Procession," "Dungeon Elevator," "The Kid's Song" and "Terwilliker's Dressing Song," words by Dr. Seuss, music by Frederick Hollander.
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1953
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 June 1953
Production Date:
late February--17 April 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Stanley Kramer Co., Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 December 1952
Copyright Number:
LP2405
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
89-90
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15928
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Ten-year-old Bart Collins is awakened from an unsettling dream by his domineering piano instructor, Dr. Terwilliker, who scolds him and wishes he would dream about practicing. Bart, whose father has died, plays the piano only to please his mother Heloise, but he secretly believes that the tyrannical instructor has hypnotized her into liking music. Dr. Terwilliker departs with further exhortations to practice, as August Zabladowski, the plumber, arrives to fix the sink. Mrs. Collins asks Bart to continue practicing while she goes out, but Bart soon falls asleep at the keyboard and begins dreaming: Bart sits at an enormous keyboard that stretches into infinity as Dr. Terwilliker stands high above him conducting. He tells Bart that the next day marks the opening of the Terwilliker Institute, a fulfillment of his dream to have 500 boys and their 5,000 fingers play his enormous piano every day of the year. After Dr. Terwilliker leaves, Bart tries to run away, but gets lost before discovering Mr. Zabladowski, installing hundreds of sinks for the institute's opening. Mr. Zabladowski tells Bart that Mrs. Collins is in league with Dr. Terwilliker, but Bart refuses to believe it and insists on searching for his mother. Bart finds Mrs. Collins in a private apartment, dressed luxuriously and directing the opening activities of the institute. Mrs. Collins does not see Bart and falls into a reverie gazing at a framed picture of him until Dr. Terwilliker emerges and demands that she forget about Bart, as she is to marry him the day after the institute's opening. Suddenly over a loudspeaker Bart is reported missing and Dr. Terwilliker orders the guard to ... +


Ten-year-old Bart Collins is awakened from an unsettling dream by his domineering piano instructor, Dr. Terwilliker, who scolds him and wishes he would dream about practicing. Bart, whose father has died, plays the piano only to please his mother Heloise, but he secretly believes that the tyrannical instructor has hypnotized her into liking music. Dr. Terwilliker departs with further exhortations to practice, as August Zabladowski, the plumber, arrives to fix the sink. Mrs. Collins asks Bart to continue practicing while she goes out, but Bart soon falls asleep at the keyboard and begins dreaming: Bart sits at an enormous keyboard that stretches into infinity as Dr. Terwilliker stands high above him conducting. He tells Bart that the next day marks the opening of the Terwilliker Institute, a fulfillment of his dream to have 500 boys and their 5,000 fingers play his enormous piano every day of the year. After Dr. Terwilliker leaves, Bart tries to run away, but gets lost before discovering Mr. Zabladowski, installing hundreds of sinks for the institute's opening. Mr. Zabladowski tells Bart that Mrs. Collins is in league with Dr. Terwilliker, but Bart refuses to believe it and insists on searching for his mother. Bart finds Mrs. Collins in a private apartment, dressed luxuriously and directing the opening activities of the institute. Mrs. Collins does not see Bart and falls into a reverie gazing at a framed picture of him until Dr. Terwilliker emerges and demands that she forget about Bart, as she is to marry him the day after the institute's opening. Suddenly over a loudspeaker Bart is reported missing and Dr. Terwilliker orders the guard to locate him and place him in the dungeons. Bart manages to evade the guards and, crawling through the air ducts, finds Mr. Zabladowski, who shows little interest in Bart's description of Mrs. Collins' behavior. Bart fantasizes about having a wonderful, two-parent home and for a moment Mr. Zabladowski agrees with him, but then tells Bart that he has disturbed his work. When Bart pleads with Mr. Zabladowski to check on Mrs. Collins, he reluctantly agrees. They find Mrs. Collins so stunningly dressed that she mesmerizes Mr. Zabladowski until Dr. Terwilliker bursts in and tries to hypnotize the plumber. Mr. Zabladowski resists, however, and the two men engage in a battle of sorcery that ends in a draw. Mr. Zabladowski then refuses to continue installing the sinks, but Mrs. Collins pleads with him, revealing that the sink inspector will declare the institute unsanitary if there are not enough sinks. Dr. Terwilliker joins in the plea and they both continue to flatter and cajole Mr. Zabladowski, until at last he agrees to resume his work, to Bart's dismay. After Mr. Zabladowski leaves, Bart overhears Dr. Terwilliker give the order that once the sink installations are complete, the plumber is to be disintegrated, with as much pain as possible. Bart slips away and Dr. Terwilliker, suspecting that his hypnotic powers over Mrs. Collins are fading, locks her into a cell. Bart follows Mr. Zabladowski, but the plumber only scolds and accuses Bart of lying about Dr. Terwilliker and refuses to believe in the execution order. Later, when Mr. Zabladowski overhears Bart lamenting about kids never being trusted, he apologizes, but still refuses to stop working, claiming that he needs his salary. Bart promises to get Mr. Zabladowski the money and rushes off to Dr. Terwilliker's room, where he steals the key to his gigantic safe and, leaving an IOU, takes $30 and the written execution order against Mr. Zabladowski. In escaping, Bart finds himself in the lowest dungeon, which as a man in tatters explains, is reserved for all musicians except pianists. After another broadcast declares that Bart is wanted dead or alive, Bart crawls back through the air vents to Mr. Zabladowski, who becomes convinced of Bart's story once he sees the execution order. When Mr. Zabladowski promises to always believe and care for Bart, he declares Mr. Zabladowski is as good as a father and as such, needs to rescue Mrs. Collins. Bart leads Mr. Zabladowski to his mother's cell, where the plumber burns off the lock and frees her. While escaping the three are cornered by the wicked skating twins, but Mr. Zabladowski outskates them and cuts their connecting beard, killing them. Dr. Terwilliker vows revenge and after capturing Mrs. Collins, places her back in a trance while the guards take Mr. Zabladowski and Bart down to the lower dungeon. The next day several buses arrive carrying the 500 boys to the institute. Meanwhile, Mr. Zabladowski and Bart struggle to enhance the plumber's odor-absorbing bottle into a mix that might absorb all of the piano's notes. Nothing works until Bart adds a hearing aide lifted from a sleeping guard. Mr. Zabladowski warns Bart that their invention is revolutionary, possibly dangerous and may even be atomic. As Bart and the rest of the boys get seated at the piano, Dr. Terwilliker dresses in his finest clothes. He then officially declares the institute open, but when he directs the boys to begin playing, Bart opens his bottle and all the sound is absorbed. When Dr. Terwilliker and the guards threaten Bart, he reveals that the mixture is atomic and demands the release of his mother, Mr. Zabladowski and all the children. Dr. Terwilliker and the guards flee in a panic and Bart takes the conductor's stand until the bottle begins smoking. As the boys bolt, the building explodes. Bart then awakens and discovers Mr. Zabladowski standing over him. Mrs. Collins returns home and delightedly accepts a ride into town with the plumber. Content, Bart ignores the piano and gets his baseball and glove and, calling to his dog Sport, goes out to play. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.