Film: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Directed by: Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel)
Starring: Hans Conreid as Dr. Terwilliker
Tommy Rettig as Bart Cullins
Peter Lind Hayes as Mr. Zoblowdowski
Mary Healy as Heloise Cullins
By Scott from He Shot Cyrus
The Gilroy Public Library. That’s where I first saw a VHS copy of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. Belonging to an avid reader, my ten-year-old eyes popped at the sight of a live-action Dr. Seuss movie. It was added to a stack that most likely featured The Rescuers Down Under, two episodes of Ramona and Jurassic Park (which my mom made me put back every week).
At that point, I had already seen the Seuss cartoons. Not just the popular ones like Horton Hears a Who. Oh no, my favorite was Pontoffel Pock & His Magic Piano. I was very vocal about this. Obviously, I was destined for a life filled with non-stop social engagements due to my unimaginable popularity. Why they haven’t made a live action Pontoffel movie, I can’t fathom.
The chance to watch Dr. Seuss come to life was once-in-a-childhood. How the Grinch Stole Christmas would later pop up during my teen years but failed to appear on my radar. Said social engagements were surely the cause.
Once my little brother finally finished whatever BBC “Chronicles of Narnia” mini-series he had checked out (again) it was time to live the dream. Popped the tape in, fast-forwarded past the FBI WARNINGS and the previews and got right to the goods. Apparently, there’s something special about those 5,000 Fingers because certain scenes still stick out in my memory. It’s been ten years since my last viewing, but I can still remember every movement the two brothers-one beard characters make, including their death scene!
When I was an undergrad, a professor showed us Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. INSERT: childhood cinematic flashback. I’d bet that the director had some love in their heart for German Expressionism. That being said, Dr. Seuss probably did as well. The sets were so gigantic and magical. There were ladders leading to nowhere, huge doors, and that 500-boy piano.
The plot circles around a young boy who somehow gets sent to a magical world. I can’t remember how. An evil piano teacher has devised a plan to enslave 500 little boys (don’t worry, it’s a PG movie) and have them play an enormous piano. Why he wants them to all play one piano, I can’t remember that either. My 5,000 Fingers memories are mostly visual. The plot plays like Swiss cheese in my brain. It’d be interesting to see if the magic is still intact and if the storyline is anywhere as impressive as the cinematography.
Did the ivory tickler Dr. T still tickle Scott’s fancy? You can download it or listen here (Ed. – In this ep, it sounds as though Scott and I are speaking over one another in some parts. We were actually very considerate, but the recording somehow sped up our comments to overlap each other. Sorry. I’ll fix it in future eps.):
Addendum: We contacted Bill Davis, the pre-eminent Seuss-ologist whern it comes to ‘Dr. T’ with regards to this podcast, and he replied: ”
Probably the most interesting thing about the film is the fact that they cut 10 songs out of the film before it was released. The movie was supposed to be more about how the adults aren’t able to communicate to kids or to each other. I’m not saying the film would have been better received by the public if it had been released in the full version, but it would have been a different film.”
– Thanks to Bill and check out his ‘5,000 Fingers’ tribute page for more!
Now, onto the podcast: