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The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
Fingers of dr t.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Rowland
Produced by Stanley Kramer
Screenplay by Dr. Seuss
Allan Scott
Starring Peter Lind Hayes
Mary Healy
Hans Conried
Tommy Rettig
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Frank Planer A.S.C.
Editing by Al Clark, A.C.E.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) July 1, 1953
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.75 million

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. is a 1953 American musical fantasy film about a boy who dreams himself into a fantasy world ruled by a diabolical piano teacher enslaving children to practice piano forever. It was the only feature film written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), who wrote the story, screenplay and lyrics. It was directed by Roy Rowland, with many uncredited takes directed by producer Stanley Kramer. The film stars Peter Lind Hayes, Mary Healy, Hans Conried, and Tommy Rettig.


Young Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) lives with his widowed mother Heloise (Mary Healy). The bane of Bart's existence is the hated piano lessons he endures under the tutelage of the autocratic Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). Bart feels that his mother has fallen under Terwilliker's influence, and gripes to their plumber, August Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes), without result. While hammering at his lessons, Bart dozes off and enters a musical dream.

In the dream, Bart is trapped at the surreal Terwilliker Institute, where the piano teacher is a madman dictator who has imprisoned non-piano-playing musicians. He built a piano so large that it requires Bart and 499 other boys (hence, 5,000 fingers) to play it. Bart's mother has become Terwilliker's hypnotized assistant and bride-to-be, and Bart must dodge the Institute's guards as he scrambles to save his mother and himself. He tries to recruit Mr. Zabladowski, who was hired to install the Institute's lavatories ahead of a vital inspection, but only after skepticism and foot-dragging is Zabladowski convinced to help. The two construct a noise-sucking contraption which ruins the mega-piano's opening concert. The enslaved boys run riot, and the "atomic" noise-sucker explodes in spectacular fashion, bringing Bart out from his dream.

The movie ends on a hopeful note for Bart, when Mr. Zabladowski notices Heloise and offers to drive her to town in his jeep. Bart escapes from the piano and runs down the street to play, with his dog Sport joyfully capering at his heels.


  • Peter Lind Hayes as August Zabladowski
  • Mary Healy as Heloise Collins
  • Hans Conried as Dr. Terwilliker
  • Tommy Rettig as Bart Collins
  • John Heasley as Uncle Whitney
  • Robert Heasley as Uncle Judson
  • Noel Cravat as Sgt. Lunk

Uncredited (in order of appearance)

  • Henry Kulky as Stroogo
  • George Chakiris as Dancer
  • Tony Butala as Boy pianist
  • Harry Wilson as Guard / doorman

Musical score

The score was composed by Frederick Hollander with lyrics by Dr. Seuss. It earned an Oscar nomination for "Best Scoring of a Musical Picture".

The singing voice of Tommy Rettig was dubbed by Tony Butala, the founder of The Lettermen.

Musical numbers

Theatrical cut:

  1. Opening Credits / Butterfly Ballet — Dream Sequence
  2. Ten Happy Fingers
  3. Piano Concerto (Ten Happy Fingers variation)
  4. Dream Stuff
  5. Hypnotic Duel
  6. Get Together Weather
  7. Because We're Kids
  8. Dungeon Ballet
  9. We Are Victorious
  10. Dressing Song / Do-Mi-Do Duds
  11. End Credits

Original "preview" version:

  1. Overture/Main Title
  2. Ten Happy Fingers
  3. Piano Concerto (Ten Happy Fingers variation)
  4. Oh! We Are the Guards
  5. Many Questions
  6. My Favorite Note
  7. Dungeon Ballet
  8. Grindstone
  9. I Will Not Get Involved
  10. Dream Stuff
  11. I Won't Go to Bed/Massage Opera
  12. You Opened My Eyes
  13. Hypnotic Duel
  14. Because We're Kids
  15. Money
  16. Freckle on a Pygmy
  17. Butterfly Ballet
  18. We Are Victorious
  19. Dressing Song/Do-Mi-Do Duds
  20. End Credits


The music that was composed for the film, including material that was not used in the extant copies of the film itself, was released as a set of 3 CDs in 2010. In 2007, a soundtrack CD (ACMEM126CD) was released by Él Records in association with Cherry Red Records.

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