Friday, October 07, 2016

Disney's The Rescuers

Disney's The Rescuers ~ This animated feature comes from a different era of Disney animation, the time after Walt Disney's death but before the new generation of animators who would usher in a renaissance in the 1980s. The Rescuers was the first film to include both the old guard and the new kids, a bridge between animation dynasties. Watching it, you can see the changing of the guard happening as tradition mixes with technology and new thinking.

The story itself comes from the book series by Margery Sharp, a property that Disney had been eyeing since the early sixties. The series follows the adventures of rich philanthropist mouse Miss Bianca who rescues animals in trouble. The journey from page to screen is so fraught with changes, I've heard it's nearly unrecognizable. An example of this is that at one point Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians was considered as an antagonist in the film.

Eva Gabor as Miss Bianca and Bob Newhart as Bernard are mice and members of the Rescue Aid Society who set out to, what else, rescue a young girl from the evil Madame Medusa, played by Geraldine Page. There's a certain international flair that borders on stereotyping because it's a global mouse organization, headquartered below the UN and all.

Eva Gabor is fun, but the songs are forgettable, and Bob Newhart seems wasted here, and that's s shame. It moves quite slowly, even for a mystery. The screen does brighten however when Madame Medusa is on screen. Supposedly based on an animator's wife, she is a deliciously manic maniac. Much more fun than Cruella could have ever been, and her movements are mesmerizing.

In some ways The Rescuers seems like it was done for younger kids, but then there are some parts, accompanied by suitable scary music, that are downright frightening. The good guys win in the end of course, although the little girl is so 1980s sitcom annoying I almost wanted her gone. Good for the kids, and the adults too.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this one as a kid; I always liked the dark visuals in the swamp, especially Medusa's riverboat lair. While the music wasn't all that great, I still occasionally find myself with the Rescue Aid Society's pledge song stuck in my head for no apparent reason. And yes, at times I wished that Penny just would just go away.