The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
An ultraweird, ultra-imaginative adaptation of Dr. Seussí picture book. Bart Collins (Tommy Rettig) is condemned to an afternoon of piano practice by the draconian Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). Bored, he dozes off and enters a dream world where the nefariously dapper Dr. T (also Conried) has created a serpentine keyboard where 500 enslaved boys will eternally toil. Bart has got to get away, release his mother (Mary Healy) from Dr. Tís hypnotic thrall, and save the hapless boys, all with the help of plumber August Zabladowski (Peter Lind Hayes). Seuss is listed prominently in the credits, and his stamp shows in the fiendishly imaginative architecture of Dr. Tís nightmare land (ladders to nowhere, disembodied hands pointing the way, random staircases spilling out of cheese-hole walls), as well as in its one-of-a-kind residents, such as two men on roller skates connected by a single long beard, or a cacophony of exiled musicians playing alien instruments that look like preschool toys imagined by H.R. Giger. Rettig (familiar to baby boomers as Lassieís first pal) has a homuncular, uncanny quality that fits right into the lawless landscape, and Conried hits the right balance between cartoon villainy and genuine menace. Refreshingly tart and defiant for a childrenís film, its space-age-by-way-of-Caligari world parks right on the delicious side of creepy. Bring the kids, especially the smart ones.