Disney Marathon: ‘The Rescuers’


Here’s a movie that holds a special place in my heart. The Rescuers got more than expected attention by audiences down-under, mostly due to the the sequel taking place in Australia. The release of the second film came with a tour of Australian cities by the animators, so young me got to meet some of those cool folk in person and see them work. Being the adult Disney nerd I am, this would have been a bigger deal to me now, but seeing them work stuck with me.

For those just joining us, this is a movie marathon with a twist. Myself (cranky 40 year old blogger), my son Josh (stoic 10 year old Nintendo obsessive) and my daughter Amelia (drama llama 8 year old princess) are watching Disney movies in a random order and ranking them. We hope to see interesting differences in how we organise our lists.

Film: The Rescuers

Released: 1977

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman, john Lounsbery, Art Stevens

Cast: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Michelle Stacy, Joe Flynn, Jim Jordan, John McIntire

Plot: A kidnapped girl Penny reaches out for help, and gets the attention of the Rescue Aid Society, an international group of mice hidden within the United Nations. Hungarian representative Bianca and janitor Bernard are dispatched to save her.

Review: This is a pretty understated movie. It’s very much from the era of cost cutting in the Disney studio, and whilst it entertains it does very little to advance the art of animation. The animated characters have sketchy line work and the backgrounds are flat and lifeless. It’s the world building and the dynamic behind the characters who keep it watchable.

Penny (Stacy) is an orphan unable to find a family to take her in, only to be abducted by the villainous Medusa (Page) and her henchman Mr. Snoops (Flynn). She’s kept prisoner on a disused river boat in the Louisiana bayou where she’s forced to explore a narrow cave that only she can fit into. The stakes certainly feel high in these sequences, as the little girl being lowered into a dark cave to search for a diamond amid dead bodies with the risk of drowning when the tide comes in are actually horrifying. There’s not a lot of personality to the bad guys, but Medusa’s willingness to subject a child to this nightmare makes her more than a little scary.

What does help us get involved with the movie is the world of the mice and how it all operates. Like The Great Mouse Detective, the utilisation of everyday objects to create their functioning underworld society is imaginative and fun. We get introduced to the Rescue Aid Society as the members arrive by hiding among the luggage of their equivalent UN members, and the stereotypical representatives of each country gather in their own secret chamber. It’s an imaginative set-up for young children, although as an adult it’s weird that ‘Africa’ just has one person to represent the 50+ countries.

The adventures of sophisticated Bianca (Gabor) and down-to-Earth Bernard (Newhart) are pretty standard odd couple fare. Their hijinks sometimes feel like filler, especially the song sequences performed by Shelby Flint tend to bring to the story to a halt rather than being integrated into it. In between the songs and the long travelling sequences it honestly feels like they struggled to complete the run time on this one.

If it wasn’t for the chemistry between Bianca and Bernard, it would be a forgettable little adventure.

Best Song: I…don’t remember any.

Coolest Easter Egg: What, waiting for me to reveal the famous nude woman scandal? Not only does everything know about this one, it’s not even in the movie any more! Instead, take note of Rufus the cat, a caricature of legendary Disney animator Ollie Johnston.

Weirdest Trivia: Medusa was originally going to be Cruella De Vil. We don’t know why this idea was cut, but there are clear parallels in the designs of the characters. Also some awesome concept art.

Rating: SIX out of TEN

THE RANKING

ME

Not particular great, not especially bad. Somewhere around the middle for this one.

Click those titles if you want to see what we said about the other movies.

  1. Zootopia
  2. Robin Hood
  3. Aladdin
  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  5. The Lion King
  6. Wreck-It Ralph
  7. Alice in Wonderland
  8. Beauty and the Beast
  9. Moana
  10. Big Hero 6
  11. Lilo & Stitch
  12. The Great Mouse Detective
  13. The Little Mermaid
  14. Frozen
  15. Tangled
  16. The Sword in the Stone
  17. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  18. Mulan
  19. Cinderella
  20. Emperor’s New Groove
  21. Fantasia
  22. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  23. The Three Caballeros
  24. The Jungle Book
  25. Sleeping Beauty
  26. The Princess and the Frog
  27. Hercules
  28. The Rescuers
  29. Oliver & Company
  30. The Aristocats
  31. Saludos Amigos
  32. Home on the Range
  33. Bolt
  34. Dinosaur
  35. The Fox and the Hound
  36. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  37. Pocahontas
  38. A Goofy Movie
  39. Fantasia 2000
  40. Treasure Planet
  41. The Wild
  42. Chicken Little

AMELIA

  1. Frozen
  2. Moana
  3. Tangled
  4. The Little Mermaid
  5. The Rescuers
  6. Emperor’s New Groove
  7. Zootopia
  8. Lilo & Stitch
  9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  10. The Great Mouse Detective
  11. Home on the Range
  12. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  13. Mulan
  14. Hercules
  15. Alice in Wonderland
  16. Cinderella
  17. Wreck-It Ralph
  18. Bolt
  19. Pocahontas
  20. Dinosaur
  21. The Aristocats
  22. The Princess and the Frog
  23. Robin Hood
  24. The Jungle Book
  25. Fantasia 2000
  26. The Lion King
  27. Beauty and the Beast
  28. The Three Caballeros
  29. The Fox and the Hound
  30. The Sword in the Stone
  31. Saludos Amigos
  32. Oliver & Company
  33. Aladdin
  34. Treasure Planet
  35. Big Hero 6
  36. Fun and Fancy Free
  37. Sleeping Beauty
  38. A Goofy Movie
  39. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  40. Chicken Little
  41. Fantasia

JOSHUA

  1. Zootopia
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. Aladdin
  4. Emperor’s New Groove
  5. Treasure Planet
  6. Moana
  7. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  8. The Three Caballeros
  9. Saludos Amigos
  10. Wreck-It Ralph
  11. The Rescuers
  12. Frozen
  13. Mulan
  14. The Princess and the Frog
  15. The Lion King
  16. Lilo & Stitch
  17. The Jungle Book
  18. Robin Hood
  19. Bolt
  20. The Sword in the Stone
  21. Beauty and the Beast
  22. Oliver & Company
  23. Sleeping Beauty
  24. Tangled
  25. The Great Mouse Detective
  26. Cinderella
  27. The Little Mermaid
  28. Home on the Range
  29. Pocahontas
  30. A Goofy Movie
  31. The Aristocats
  32. Fantasia
  33. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  34. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  35. Fun and Fancy Free
  36. The Fox and the Hound
  37. Fantasia 2000
  38. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  39. Dinosaur
  40. Hercules
  41. Alice in Wonderland
  42. Chicken Little