The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T

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"Yes sir, very atomic!"

"We should always believe children. We should even believe their lies."

—Mr. Zabladowski

"How many times must Matt Groening have watched The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T?"

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is a sadly-overlooked 1953 fantasy movie, especially notable in that it was the only time that Dr. Seuss ventured into the live-action film medium. In it, young Bartholomew Collins (Tommy Rettig) finds himself and his hypnotized mother (Mary Healy) trapped in the piano-playing Institute of the maniacal Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), a villain who doesn't just eat Seuss's marvelous scenery, but engages in an epic multicourse banquet. Bartholomew's only hope is convincing plumber August Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes) to help him, instead of installing the Institute's sinks.

There's Siamese-beard rollerskaters, a visit to the most toe-tappingly tuneful dungeon ever, and a very atomic noise-sucker/bomb. Go track down a copy and watch it! Do it now! (or just go here!)

This film contains these INEXPLICABLE PHENOMENA:

"First Floor Dungeon: Assorted simple tortures. Molten lead, chopping blocks, and hot boiling oil."
"Second Floor Dungeon: Jewelry Department."

    • Although the next line of the song makes it clear that the "jewelery" in question is an assortment of chains and nooses
  • Non Sequitur Episode: Although it's fairly clear where the hallucinogenic sequences stem from.
  • Bizarrchitecture: It is, quite literally, a Dr. Seuss book brought to life. Note, for example, the Toilet Tree in the background of Bart's cellblock.
  • Camp: Oh, where to begin...
  • Camp Straight: Dr. Terwilliker. Especially in his Villain Song.
  • Classic Villain: Classic children's villain, even. The grumpy inflicter of the boy's hated piano lesson becomes an egotistical, grandiose, vain and autocratic dictator who speaks with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and demands that everyone is subservient to he, Dr. TerWILLIKER! Why? Because piano playing is Serious Business and he knows far more than a mere "child".
  • Creator Backlash: Dr. Seuss was not happy at all with the way this movie turned out, referring to it as "a debaculous fiasco." He refused even to mention it in his official memoir.
  • Cut Song: There was a whole bunch of other music written for the film by Dr. Seuss that didn't make the final cut, and only survives on old production bootlegs.

Oh We Are The Guards: We are Two Terrible Twins With a Terrible Siamese Beard.
Don't get fresh with us now, Or you will get choked by the beard of the twins with the
Siamese beard, with a terrible twin on each end.

  • Dastardly Whiplash: Dr. Terwilliker. Hans Conreid was the voice of Snidely Whiplash.
  • Defictionalization: "Happy Fingers" Beanies were produced after this movie came out.
  • Deus Ex Nukina: "Is it... atomic?" "Yes sir, VERY atomic!".
  • Disintegrator Ray: "Hello, physics laboratory? ... I want him disentegrated...atom...by atom!"
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Most of the movie.
  • Disappeared Dad: Played oh so very straight to the point where the entire film is a Freudian dream metaphor for Bart's longing for a father who can take him to baseball games instead of having to hang around the house with mom and do piano lessons. Yes indeed, very '50s.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A dictator herds people into a labor camp, and it all ends with an atomic explosion.
  • Dream Ballet: If you squint a bit, the dance numbers could be considered as Dream Ballets.
  • Dream Land
  • Elevator Floor Announcement: The dungeon elevator.
  • Fashionable Evil: Of the campiest sort. "Do-Me-Do Duds", indeed.
  • Freud Was Right: Mr. Zabladowki has to rescue Bart's mom from her "lock-me-tight", which has a heart-shaped lock that he has to bust open.
  • Gilded Cage: "Tonight... you will sleep in your lock-me-tight!"
  • G-Rated Drug: pickle juice. "Be careful, Mr. Zabladowski. That's some powerful stuff!"
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Dr. T is also the Grinch from "The Grinch Grinches Halloween!", Captain Hook and, as someone below said, Snidely Whiplash.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Inverted in that it's just piano lessons, but to a red-blooded 1950s boy like Bart the very idea is A Fate Worse Than Death. And when he learns that his teacher has built an enormous "500 boy piano" with plans for more little boys to have to bang away, oh the horror, the horror...
  • Humiliation Conga
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Bartholomew's mother has been turned into Terwilliker's assistant.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: The VERY atomic noise-sucker.
  • Large Ham: Dr. Terwilliker can rant with the best of them. He was played by the voice actor of Snidely Whiplash.
  • Life Imitates Art: Tommy Rettig went on to become an acid guru in the '60s.
  • Lyrical Dissonance
  • MacGyvering
  • Nice Hat: As seen above, so very much averted with the beanie that Bartholomew is forced to wear.
  • Notable Original Music:
    • The Dungeon Elevator Operator song.
    • The Dungeon of screechy violins musical interlude. (See Non Sequitur Scene.)
    • The Camp Villain song, "Dress Me", aka "Do-Mi-Do Duds". "Come on and dress me, dress me, dress me in my finest array..."
    • "Just Because We're Kids" sounds like an anthem of the 60's Baby Boom generation.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: After the horrific description of what goes on in the first dungeon, and the more horrific description of the second dungeon, the basement dungeon (which they get off on) is not described. Leaving it to the imagination as to how bad that must be.
    • It was originally described in High Octane Nightmare Fuel glory (See Third Verse Curse below).
      • Ah, but as originally written, they got off on the fourth floor dungeon, which again was not described.
        • The original version is both the scariest and the most interesting.
  • Nuclear Nightmare: rife with Cold War symbolism.
  • Parental Bonus: The song Get-Together Weather, which is a Love Triangle Song. Hmmmm... "Come on, the weatherman's reporting that the weather's ripe for sporting, and for love and assorted courting, this is get-together weather, together is just what we've got to get! What fabulous weather for cooing and billing! What fabulous weather for dally-down dilling! What fabulous weather for bipping and beeping! For schnipping and schnupping and schnooping and schneeping! Come on, the weatherman's announcing that the weather's ripe for flouncing, and for b-b-b-b-b-b-bouncing..."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Mr. Zabladowski and Mrs. Collins were married in real life when they made the picture.
  • Rule of Symbolism: see Nuclear Nightmare and Disappeared Dad, above.
  • Scary Black Man: The elevator operator.
  • Third Verse Curse: The third stanza of the "Dungeon song" was cut out due to increasingly horrific lyrics.

THIRD FLOOR DUNGEON! Household appliances.
Spike beds, electric chairs, gas chambers, roasting pots, and scalping devices.