'The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T.' is Released

Because here's a film, now more than 50 years old, that deserves just as much praise as Pixar, one every bit as magical as Up, albeit far, far stranger.

The only film ever scripted by Theodor Geisel (better known professionally as Dr Seuss), 5,000 Fingers is the delirious, surrealist tale of the 10-year-old Bart Collins, trapped as one of 500 enslaved child pianists toiling in the institute of the fiendish music teacher Dr Terwilliker. And trust me when I say this slim premise provides the basis for a movie that could be slipped without hesitation into a midnight triple bill between The Wizard of Oz and Mulholland Drive. At the same time, it's the kind of children's film kids themselves love, at once riotous fun and possessed of untold layers of psychological weirdness.

Ted Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, wrote and helped design this eccentric fantasy about a young boy named Bart (Tommy Rettig) who, like most young boys, doesn't enjoy his piano lessons with the mean-spirited Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). He figures his time would be better spent playing baseball with his friends or helping his grown-up buddy Arthur Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes), a plumber. One night, while fast asleep, Bart has a long and remarkable dream in which he's trapped in the kingdom of the fearsome Dr. T, who has enslaved hundreds of little boys, forcing them to practice on the world's largest piano until they drop. With the help of a friendly plumber, Bart plans a revolt that will topple Dr. T's evil empire once and for all. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T also features several songs for which Geisel contributed lyrics.