On the first anniversary of our engagement, the Fella and I thought we’d celebrate with a little bit of Disney Odyssey, and the next film happened to be The Rescuers. At first, I wasn’t sure how topical this movie was – after all, The Rescuers is a strange story about child abuse, kidnapping, and mice that rescue people. However, it is also about the retrieval of a very large diamond from within a craggy cave somewhere along the coast of either Florida or Louisiana. The Fella and I got engaged at Disney World in Florida, and when we did so, he provided me with a ring which did, in fact, contain diamonds. Nothing so enormous as the Devil’s Eye in this movie, but do you see what I’m getting at here?
Ahem. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The Film: The Rescuers (1977)
- The Rescuers introduces Bernard and Bianca, two mice of the international Rescue Aid Society. The RAS was founded by Euripides Mouse, aka the mouse that helped the lion in Aesop’s fable.
- Bernard is voiced by Bob Newhart, and Miss Bianca is voiced by Eva Gabor (whom you may remember from “Green Acres” and The Aristocats).
- This is the first Disney movie to inspire a sequel – and the only movie on our Disney Odyssey whose sequel is ALSO on The List! (Seriously, I can’t wait for Rescuers Down Under, it’s one of my top ten faves for sure.)
- Originally, the company wanted to make a TV series about Bernard and Bianca – when the studio approved The Rescuers Down Under, the series was still made but Bernard and Bianca were replaced with Chip and Dale. And so, “Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers” was born.
- I had no idea that this was based on a book. At this point, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, but I totally am… I had no idea! The Rescuers novel was written by British author Margery Sharp and first published in 1959. The US edition was illustrated by Garth Williams, an artist who should ping your nostalgia library – he also illustrated Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and the Little House series. Sharp went on to write eight more Rescuers books in the series.
- The VHS version of the film was recalled by Disney in 1999 due to an inserted image of a topless woman, which appears about 38 minutes into the movie, as Bernard and Bianca fly through the city. Click here if you’re curious.
- In the Rescue Aid Society’s headquarters, Miss Bianca is seated as a delegate from Hungary – her voice performer Eva Gabor was born in Budapest.
- This was the last Disney film to receive an Oscar nomination until The Little Mermaid in 1989.
- There is a good/evil motif with the colors blue and red in this film, as Penny wears blue and Madame Medusa has fiery red hair and wears a scarlet dress. This red/blue dichotomy shows up later in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- The design of Madame Medusa is distinctly similar to Cruella De Vil – they had considered using Cruella herself for the movie but there was a lot of outcry against recycling her. Instead, they simply designed the villain to look and move similarly to Cruella.
- Orville the albatross is named after one of the Wright brothers. Duh.
- The first Disney animation since Bambi (way back in 1942) where all the most significant songs were sung as part of a narrative, as opposed to by the film’s characters.
- The opening of this film is the saddest thing ever. It’s like the serious artistic exploration of Fantasia with a really horribly melancholy faux-Carpenters song playing over it. Legitimately made me wonder if I could handle watching the rest of the film because it was that sad.
- International mice party in a suitcase!!!
- “Africa, you get one delegate. No no, I know you’re a continent made up of several individual countries – you still only get one mouse delegate. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is.”
- I forgot that Bernard was their janitor! It’s so adorable!
- Aaaaaaaaaand there’s Miss Bianca. She knows exactly what she’s doing when she rolls up late to the Rescue Aid Society emergency meeting. Mmm-hmmmmm.
- According to the Fella, Don Bluth had direct control over the animation in the scene where Bernard and Bianca go to the Zoo in the rain.
- The Fella has a looooot of feelings about Bernard and Bianca – he saw himself as a Bernard-type growing up. ❤ In fact, the Fella’s favorite hats are the same kind as Bernard wears. It’s his signature hat.
- Aly: “Rufus is what happened when Merlin from Sword in the Stone transformed himself into a cat and then lost his memory and got stuck.”
- [the bluebird of faith poem-song-thing happens] Aly: This is literally the saddest movie what the hell is going on
- Bernard: “Aren’t the police still looking for her?” Rufus: “Oh no, no no, they gave up weeks ago.” Aly: “…aaaand this is a movie about human trafficking.”
- There’s a thing in children’s animated media about pawn shops signifying greed and evil rather than poverty and desperation. Now, as an adult who is at times relatively un-wealthy, a pawn shop means something different than it did when I was a kid watching cartoons. Interesting…
- The Fella’s favorite thing about animation is when an action or reaction is animated which is extraneous or not strictly necessary. This is what signifies great animation.
- The flight sequence with Orville the Albatross is a direct parallel both in action and dialogue to the flight sequence in the sequel – The Rescuers Down Under.
- Aly: “Ohhhh no, there’s no way those alligators are trained.” The Fella: “They’re like a parallel to Flotsam and Jetsam later.” Aly: “There’s also no way this half-sunk riverboat is up to code and fit for habitation. Ugh.”
- This movie is really really stressful to watch and it turns out they did that on purpose – the writers wanted every scene to have a certain degree of suspense. Welp, it worked!
- Everything (somehow) works out well in the end, though, and Bernard and Bianca save Penny and head out on their next Big Rescue Adventure!
Up Next: The Fox and the Hound!
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