Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Forgotten Gems: "The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T"

I know I have mentioned this film before, but I've never given it its full due. So, here it is:

Long before Uncle P and most of his readers were born, Theodore Geisel (AKA: Dr. Seuss) wrote an extraordinary screenplay about a boy who, forced to take piano lessons from a certain Doctor Terwilliker, falls asleep and dreams of a fantastic world in which Dr. T. plans to take over the world by forcing 500 young boys to play on his gigantic piano. How this plot could possibly work, remains a mystery. But it does make for one weird and wonderful movie musical.

Bartholomew "Bart" Collins (see The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins) is the son of a lonely widower. He hopes that someday his mother will find a new husband, and that the aforementioned husband will be the handsome plumber, August Zabladowski. But he fears that his piano teacher (the titular Dr. T) will ruin everything. Falling asleep at the keyboard, Bart dreams of fantastical world in which Dr. T is an evil villain to whom his mother has become hypnotically enthralled. His only hope is the plumber, whom he convinces to help in his plan to overthrow the evil musician. Creating an "atomic" weapon from various pocket junk and an air-freshener, Bart manages to thwart Dr. T's plan and free the 500 boys from his tyranny.

The plot is a typically Seuss-inspired affair, and director Roy Rowland creates a world that is "Suessian" in every possible way. From the curly/wavy set design to the outrageous costumes, there is no doubt that this is a dream only Geisel could imagine. Filled with dopey henchmen, repressed musicians and a pair of Smith Brothers' inspired twins conjoined at the beard, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. is a film that revels in its own absurdity. Starring a company of mostly C-List actors, Rowland's film is a riot of colors, nonsense and delightful absurdity, presented in glorious Technicolor. Fredrick Hollander's score is complemented by some of Geisel's most ridiculous lyrics. And while Geisel had his name removed from the credits, the movie is undeniably his creation.

Starring the amazing Hans Conried (Peter Pan; Barefoot in the Park) in the title role, The 5000 Fingers... is a riotous, joyously ridiculous musical that can be enjoyed by both young and old alike. Should you find it on AMC or TCM, I encourage you to watch it an revel in its nonsensical and absurdist joy. And in case you doubt, here are some clips to whet your appetite:

If you've never seen this delightful and outrageously fun movie, I urge to seek it out. You won't be disappointed.

More, anon.

PS. - I know that plenty of gay bloggers have posted a request to the HRC to demand the repeal of DADT today. But because I usually don't get to post until late in the day (usually after 10 PM Eastern Time), I thought such a request would have reached most of my regular readers by now and such a request would be redundant, at best. Still, I urge you all to contact the HRC and let them know you support their efforts to repeal this ridiculous and homophobic legislation.


1 comment:

Stephen said...

Great post & a favotite of mine.