The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
©1952 The Stanley Kramer Company Inc.


Genre: Fantasy

Rating: G

Also known as:
Crazy Music
Dr. Seuss' 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.
The Five-Thousand Fingers of Dr. T.

The only thing young Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) hates more than playing the piano is the tyrannical Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), the man Bart's mother (Mary Healy) has hired to teach him. Only the plumber, Mr. Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes), seems to sympathize with Bart's plight. One day, while practicing, Bart falls asleep and dreams that he's trapped in Dr. Terwilliker's Happy Fingers Institute on the eve of the doctor's evil plot to make 500 little boys play the piano 24 hours a day 365 days a year. While Mr. Zabladowski installs sinks in the holding cells, Bart's mother acts as Dr. T's second in command, coordinating the arrival of Dr. T's new prisoners. Trying to escape, Bart is pursued by a pair of roller-skating twins (John and Robert Heasley) and other strange characters. Bart pleads with Mr. Zabladowski for help, telling him that his mother is under Dr. T's spell. However, when Mr. Zabladowski goes to check it out, Bart's mother uses her feminine charms to convince him that everything is fine. Then, once Mr. Zabladowski leaves, Dr. T orders that Mr. Zabladowski be disintegrated when all the sinks are installed and locks Bart's mother in a cage when she starts to resist his hypnotic commands. Resorting to plan B, Bart offers to pay Mr. Zabladowski to remove the sinks he recently installed so the institute can't open. He then sneaks into Dr. T's chambers to steal the money to pay Mr. Zabladowski and, while he's at it, he steals proof that Dr. T is planning to have Mr. Zabladowski killed. Realizing that Dr. T tricked him, Mr. Zabladowski agrees to help free Bart's mother and escape but the trio is quickly captured. Dr. T puts Bart's mother back under his hypnotic control and locks Bart and Mr. Zabladowski in the dungeon. However, using items from their pockets, Bart and Mr. Zabladowski are able to create a device that absorbs sound. Later, when Bart is dragged to Dr. T's giant piano with the 499 other young captives, he activates his device and no sound comes out of the giant piano. Unfortunately, the sound absorbing device proves to unstable and explodes, waking Bart from his dream.

Type of mind control: Hypnosis

Mind control scenes:
Bart's mother is under Dr. Terwilliker's control the entire time he's dreaming but the control isn't really apparent until Mr. Zabladowski goes to check Bart's claims that his mother is under Dr. T's spell. Dr. T uses hand gestures and subtle suggestions to indicate what he wants Bart's mother to do so that Mr. Zabladowski is unaware of what is going on. Dr. T also tries to hypnotize Mr. Zabladowski but it doesn't work. Later, when Bart is fleeing from Dr. T's chambers after stealing the money and proof that Dr. T is planning on having Mr. Zabladowski disintegrated, he sees his mother sitting in her cage with a vacant look on her face. Finally, Dr. T puts Bart's mother back into a hypnotic trance when the three are caught trying to escape and when Bart is dragged to the giant piano to play, his mother doesn't even recognize him.

Subjective Rating: 4 out of 5
Mary Healy's portrayal of Dr. Terwilliker's hypnotic control is very well done and the fact that her character is under Dr. T's spell is a relatively important part of the story and not just a minor plot point. Unfortunately, because the story revolves around Bart and not his mother, the amount of mind control we actually get to see is limited. Still, the scene where Dr. T makes Bart's mother convince Mr. Zabladowski that everything is fine and the scene where Dr. T reasserts his control over her with a wave of his hand are definitely worth checking out.

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