Blu-Ray Review: The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T

The name Theodor Geisel probably won’t mean anything to you. However, if I told you his pen name was Dr. Seuss, I can guarantee you’ll at least be aware of his work. He created an array of fantastical and unique characters who are still loved by kids around the world today. His most famous books were published during the 1950s (The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, How the Grinch Stole Christmas etc), and were very different to other children’s books on the market. His one foray into film was on Roy Rowland’s The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.

Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) loves his mother Heloise (Mary Healy) but hates the piano lessons he’s forced to endure. This is largely down to his teacher, the autocratic Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), who demands perfection. His only confident is a friendly plumber August (Peter Lind Hayes). Bored by practicing, Bart nods off and finds himself trapped in a strange institute run by a madman (Conried) who has built a piano for 500 boys. Heloise is under his evil spell. Bart has to persuade August to team up with him to defeat his enemy before his plan comes to fruition.

Despite being cut to shreds by producer Stanley Kramer after an unsuccessful preview screening, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T remains an energetic, extraordinary and original vision. It’s a highly musical film, and whilst much of that was lost there are some beautifully choreographed scenes. It was possibly too scary for children in 1953, but it has become something of a cult classic since. Whilst it’s by no means perfect, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T remains an entirely distinctive and idiosyncratic film.

Indicator limited edition special features:

• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Audio commentary with film historians Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton
• Crazy Music (2017, 17 mins): a new interview with musician, singer and archivist Michael Feinstein on his obsession with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
• Father Figure (2017, 19 mins): a new interview with Steve Rowland, son of director Roy Rowland
• Karen Kramer introduction (2007, 2 mins)
• Dr. T. on Screen (2007, 15 mins): Cathy Lind Hayes, George Chakiris and others talk about the film
• A Little Nightmare Music (2007, 12 mins): an examination of the film’s ground-breaking music score
• Original theatrical trailer
• Joe Dante trailer commentary (2013, 3 mins): a short critical appreciation
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Peter Conheim, and extracts from the original press kit, advertising and promotion guide
• UK Blu-ray and DVD premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is released on dual format Blu-ray and DVD by Powerhouse Films as part of the Indicator Series on Monday 24 July.

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