A brilliant detective mouse helps a little girl find her
father who has been kidnapped by an evil genius.
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Directed by Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson,
David Michener, John Musker
Written by Pete Young, Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, Ron Clements, John Musker, Bruce M. Morris, Matthew O'Callaghan,
Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, Melvin Shaw
Starring Vincent Price, Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin,
Susanne Pollatschek, Candy Candido, Alan Young
Based on the book Basil of Baker Street
by Eve Titus and Paul Galdone
Inspired by the work of Arthur Conan Doyle
The Great Mouse Detective isn't one of Disney's most celebrated original classics, but it's become somewhat of a cult classic since it's debut in 1986. It's essentially a retelling of Sherlock Holmes but with mice, with Holmes and Watson taking a backseat to the eccentric and brilliant Basil of Baker Street (Ingham) and his new partner Dr. Dawson (Bettin). It's a brisk hour and fourteen minutes, but it's a delightful mystery with some surprising moments of genuine fright thanks to the wonderful rogues gallery of villains like Fidget the Bat (Candido) and the deliciously evil Professor Ratigan played by the always impeccable Vincent Price.
When her father, a toymaker, is kidnapped, little Olivia (Pollatschek) tracks down the famous detective Basil, who agrees to help her once he realizes the toymaker's kidnapping is connected to his arch-nemesis, Professor Ratigan. Ratigan has the toymaker build a robotic replica of the mouse Queen Victoria so he can take over all of Mouse England. Of course, Basil thwarts his evil plan, leading to an epic showdown atop Big Ben, where Ratigan goes berserk and attacks Basil as a full-blown rat. It's quite scary, and I'm sure it freaked out some kids back in the 80's.
I would place The Great Mouse Detective among Disney's second tier films. Obviously, nothing is ever going to surpass that near-flawless 90's run (Aladdin, The Lion King, Hunchback, you get the picture). But it's nice to know that Disney has always had the odd gem during their dry spells. This one is charming and delightful.