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, and the 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 musical material. Need proof of this blanket statement? Check out some of the lyrics that I've html-ized here. You won't be disappointed. Bear in mind, however, that simply reading the lyrics is no substitute for watching the movie itself.

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