A pair of mice on a mission to rescue an orphan girl who was kidnapped and made to hunt for a special diamond in the 1977 Walt Disney Animation Studios film, “The Rescuers.” Penny has been kidnapped from an orphanage in New York and taken to Louisiana because she is small enough to fit in the cave where the diamond is hidden. When she sends a message in a bottle, it reaches the Rescue Aid Society. The Hungarian representative, Miss Bianca, volunteers to go find her and selects the janitor, Bernard to go with here. Along the way, they fight off alligators, get some help from the locals and help Penny find the diamond. In the end, Penny is rescued and adopted while the diamond ends up in a museum.
Once again, the Walt Disney Company shows that mice are its bread and butter. We all know of the success of Mickey Mouse. The animation studio has also hit it big with Timothy Mouse in “Dumbo” and Jaq and Gus Gus in “Cinderella.” Here, Bernard and Miss Bianca join the rest of those mice in the pantheon of great Disney mice. It’s been a long time since Disney struggled financially, but whenever they did, it seems putting mice into a movie has been the way to bail out the studio.
This film features an all-star cast but it’s the voices of Bernard and Miss Bianca that help make this movie great. This film could’ve easily struggled if they miscast the voices of the lead mice. Miss Bianca is voiced by Eva Gabor, who previously voiced Duchess in “The Aristocats” and is known for her work in “Green Acres.” Meanwhile, Bernard is voiced by Bob Newhart, a legendary comedian, who at the time was known for “The Bob Newhart Show.” He would go on to have another successful show and many successful guest appearances in comedies. The pair have an excellent chemistry that is on display here and continues in the sequel, “The Rescuers Down Under.”
This is the very first Disney animated film to get a sequel. Walt Disney was notoriously opposed to sequels because he believed you couldn’t top a film with a sequel. But this film was released a decade after his death. Those in charge of Disney in the 1970s, and especially when the company’s leadership transitioned away from the Disney family in the 1980s, weren’t as averse to sequels and that led to the making of “The Rescuers Down Under.” It’s an odd bit of trivia, but it’s interesting to think that a film that shined so bright during a time that’s thought of as a “Dark Age” for the animation department that it was the first to get a sequel.
This is one of the greatest films of what’s known as Disney’s Dark Age, or its First Dark Age depending on how you define the company’s eras of animation. I, personally, prefer “The Rescuers Down Under” to “The Rescuers,” but this was still a spectacular film that kept me riveted beginning to end.