Fashion Criminal

Your day as a supervillain has arrived. You’ve bewitched a suburban mother, seated 500 children around a giant piano, and are about to put your master plan into action. So how do you celebrate such a feat of large-scale iniquity? Well, if you’re Dr. T, the piano teacher played by Hans Conried in the Seuss-penned fantasy The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), you get dressed by way of an elaborate musical number.

It’s “The Dressing Song,” colloquially known as “Do-Mi-Do Duds,” Dr. T’s ode to his collection of absurdly haute couture outfits. Its lyrics, in the best Seussian tradition, are a euphonic inventory of esoteric fabrics and food products—from a “purple nylon girdle with the orange blossom buds” to the downright counterintuitive “liverwurst, and Camembert cheese!” Pair them with meticulous choreography, as performed by Dr. T’s five expressionless assistants, and you’ve got one of the campiest, queerest, most joyous things ever to come out of Hollywood.

Part of its splendor comes from the number’s productivity. It doesn’t just have momentum; it has a work ethic. Dr. T’s assistants are clearly on the clock, bustling around his bedroom, even if their jobs do involve geometrically precise dance routines. Their boss starts the number out in mauve t-shirt and green shorts but, by the end, he’s decked out in a dazzlingly complex uniform. This musical number gets something done! What say you to that, “Singin’ in the Rain”?

Beyond the drive that makes “Do-Mi-Do Duds” tick like manic clockwork, its greatness is all in the details. Like how Dr. T seems oblivious to the men around him because he’s so caught up in how goddamn decadent and amazing his clothes are. Or how magisterially, with renewed exuberance on every verse, he calls for every last piece of his wardrobe: “I want my organdy snood! And in addition to that…!” Or, perhaps best of all, how he doesn’t quite affix his colossal hat’s chinstrap correctly, but keeps marching anyway. Because he’s Dr. T.

Or, say, the way his assistants sprinkle him with flower petals as if he’s the world’s gaudiest, most demented bride. All I really know is that “Do-Mi-Do Duds” is pure, bottled pleasure. It’s all the joie de vivre and outrageous fashion sense in the world concentrated into two and a half minutes of song and dance. And really, who doesn’t want their cutie chamois booties with the leopard skin toes?

2 Comments

Filed under Cinema

2 responses to “Fashion Criminal

  1. Absolutely one of my favourite scenes in that film as a kid- and to this day. I’m definitely hoping I can make that costume for myself one day. :)

  2. I just got this movie from netflix and am watching it later today! What a coincidence. I look forward to this scene!

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