Cherry Red Records deserves some kind of award simply for the act of issuing this soundtrack CD to Stanley Kramer and Roy Rowland's The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T. A cult favorite among children's film and musical enthusiasts (with a score by Frederick Hollander, no less) for a half-century, the 1954 movie has been reissued and restored in various venues, even running again theatrically in New York around the start of the 21st century to great success (and it would be a prime candidate for a stage adaptation, which was rumored to be in the works around the time of the feature film's reissue). The music is strong enough to stand on its own, with its mix of wit, camp, and kitsch (of the best kind), all within a framework nearly as surreal as the movie itself. The first half of the CD consists of the music as recorded and represented in the finished film, which stands rather neatly on its own as a surreal mix of pop and classical influences, making especially fine use of tuned percussion at various points as well as strings and harps drenched in enough reverb to qualify as quasi-psychedelic (or downright delirious). The second half is comprised 15 minutes of outtakes from the score, retrieved from Lord-knows-where, that are about as good as anything used in the finished film, and add some wonderfully outrageous moments as Hans Conried singing "My Favorite Note" -- the quality isn't quite as good as that of the finished film material, but it's all easy enough to enjoy as long as one allows for the diminished resolution and spaciousness. Additionally, these outtakes show how close this movie came to being a full-blown, fully scored musical. The annotation is respectful to the subject, and one can only hope that this release will further spread the word about the worth of this film (and maybe -- who knows? -- lead to that stage production?).
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder
|The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, film score|