This is undoubtedly the best Dr Seuss movie ever made.
No, seriously. It also happens to be the only movie Dr Seuss actually made personally.
If you like the Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or the 1967 Casino Royale, but were disappointed by Carrey’s Grinch or Myers’ Cat in the Hat, then you will LOVE this 1953 movie.
I didn’t see all of it since I only happened to catch it on TV, but basically Bart is a 10-year-old kid who hates his fascist piano teacher and has a surreal nightmare that he’s one of 500 boys kidnapped and incarcerated at a psychodelic concentration camp called Happy Fingers, ruled over by his evil teacher Dr Terwilliker (Hans Conried, later the voice of Captain Hook). And if you’re confusing them with Bart Simpson and Sideshow Bob Terwilliger, you should be. (Thanks, J.P.)
Dr T needs the childrens’ 5000 fingers to play the longest keyboard ever built, in order to set off an atomic bomb or something. I don’t want to spoil who little Bart discovers is 2nd in command of the Terwilliker Institute but let’s just say it’s a chilling discovery involving brainwashing.
Of course it’s also a musical with songs, like the screenplay, written by Dr. Seuss, and all soaked in a World War II subtext that fuses German expressionist set design with classic Seussian imagery.
I’d never even heard of this movie before, so I’m going to go ahead and declare it criminally underappreciated. Either that or it’s everybody’s favorite movie they’ve never mentioned.