Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Great Mouse Detective


Now we finally make some real progress at getting out of the abyss Disney animation descended into during the ‘80s with crap like The Aristocats and Robin Hood. While nobody is likely to put this on a Best Of list, it’s a quite nice little story with good characterization, good art, good humor, and an engaging story. Basil lives at 221 Baker Street, just under 221B, where Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson live. (In fact, in a brief scene we see Holmes cast a shadow on a wall as he leaves to fight crime, and he is voiced by none other than Basil Rathbone!) He is just as smart and dogged and scientific as Sherlock, though not quite as stand-offish. The plot involves a diabolical evil scheme to replace the (mouse) Queen with a mechanical substitute who will turn all power over to Ratigan—a rat trying to pass himself off as a mouse. Ratigan is delightfully voiced by Vincent Price, and he has a pegleg bat henchman named Fidget who acts a lot like the troll henchman in The Black Cauldron. He is voiced by Candy Candido, who did a lot of deep voices for Disney and others, and he’s pretty funny. (Researching him, I found out he used to be on the Jimmy Durante radio show, where he had a catch phrase: “I’m feeling mighty low.” I couldn’t find a recording of it.) There’s music by Henry Mancini and a song by Melissa Manchester. There is also a very early CGI sequence, a chase through the gears of Big Ben. CGI was so primitive back then that they used it to make line drawings of the complex setting, printed those drawings out, and then colored them by hand. My, how times have changed.