’Tis the season when we wave goodbye to splashy summer frolics and dive headlong into the serious work (and art) of fall. Back to the grind, as it were. But what’s the rush? Let’s extend our escape just a few more days, until the Alamo Drafthouse "cereal breakfast" screening of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. on Saturday, Sept. 7 at noon.
Penned by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, and produced by earnest Hollywood heavyweight Stanley Kramer, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) is one of the strangest collaborations in the checkered history of the studio system. A live-action musical parable about control and conformity with fantastical sets and costumes (check out the trailer below), it was allegedly made for children, but truly intended for adults.
The heart of this fractured fairy tale is piano practice, a socially acceptable form of daily childhood imprisonment that swaths of the upwardly mobile American middle class adopted in the 1950s. Multiply this sadistic practice by 500 children, grinding away at a humongous piano under the “direction” of the supervillainous Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried), and you have the stuff that nightmares are made of.
Indeed, there are grown men and women walking the streets and malls at this very moment who can recall the trauma of seeing Dr. Seuss’ ostensibly benign children’s movie. If that isn’t a movie recommendation you can trust, I don’t know what to tell you.
Seriously, if you’re a parent who’s saturated your child with Star Wars and Disney films, take a deep breath. How does that constitute a normal childhood? Plant a little—OK, a lot of—weirdness in your offspring’s imagination, courtesy of Dr. Seuss and Drafthouse.