Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5  
The 5000 Fingers of Dr T (1953)
U

Do you think 50s movies mean staid, Happy Days-style dramas? Well, go see "The 5000 Fingers of Dr T" and get ready to think again. Indeed, once you've seen this frantically weird musical, you won't look at cinema in quite the same way.

The eponymous Dr T (Conried) is a piano-mad music teacher who sets up a school where 500 boys play the instrument 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Should said boys try to leave said establishment, their path is blocked by an electric fence. And if they want to play an instrument other than the piano, they're sent to the school dungeon. Formulaic this ain't.

Produced by strait-laced Stanley Kramer and directed by journeyman Roy Rowland, "Dr T" owes its insanity to Theodor Geisel, aka Dr Seuss, the Green Eggs & Ham man. He not only evolved the story and wrote the script but also penned the songs and designed the sets. It's gaudier than a child's colouring book and the dialogue would shame Ed Wood ("Is it atomic?" asks the doctor. "Yes, Sir. VERY atomic!" a pupil replies) but Seuss' baby never grates because the film is fully aware of its oddness.

As in his fiction, Seuss understands that to get away with strangeness it has to be off-set against other things, which in this case means great tunes and spectacular set-pieces such as when the banished kids rock out on their forbidden instruments.

Some might not like it and many will positively hate it but say you've seen anything like "Dr T" before and you'll only be fooling yourself.

End Credits

Director: Roy Rowland

Writer: Allan Scott, Dr Seuss

Stars: Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy, Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig, John Heasley

Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical

Length: 88 minutes

Original: 1953

Cinema: 29 March 2002

Country: USA

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