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  Rescuers, The Mice To See You
Year: 1977
Director: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens
Stars: Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Page, Joe Flynn, Jeanette Nolan, Pat Buttram, Jim Jordan, John McIntire, Michelle Stacy, Bernard Fox, Larry Clemmons, James MacDonald, George Lindsey, Bill McMillan, Dub Taylor, John Fiedler, Shelby Flint
Genre: Animated, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Penny (voiced by Michelle Stacy) is a little girl who needs rescuing. She sneaks out of the wrecked riverboat she is currently being held in and drops a message in a bottle into the water, hoping it will reach someone who can help her. And indeed it does, as it comes to the attention of the Mouse Rescue Aid Society, an organisation situated in the United Nations building in New York City, which puts two mice onto Penny's dilemma almost immediately - but first they have to find out where she is, as the message has been smudged by the damp...

In the dark days of the seventies and eighties for Disney, The Rescuers stood out like a beacon, a genuine animated hit which showed off the skills of their staff to welcome effect. Since The Jungle Book and the death of their founder, Walt Disney, it was felt that the studio had foundered, mainly reliant on reissues of their classics when the new stuff was considered second rate at best. Yet this film had a surprisingly warm reception, and is still fondly thought of today, perhaps because its kindliness and adventure come across as genuine and unforced.

It's a simple story, based on two of the original series of books by Margery Sharp, and wisely the makers don't dress it up unnecessarily, keeping a pleasing purity to the design. The animation is characterful without being overly cutesy, and if the main villainess, Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page), is reminiscent of Cruella De Vil then it does nothing to harm her boo hiss personality. But what the film really relies on is the charm of its two rescuers: Bernard (Bob Newhart) and Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor), with well cast voices and a truly charming relationship.

Nothing is ever spelled out, and it's all the sweeter for that, but the nervous though reliable Bernard has a secret crush on Miss Bianca, and while she likes him, she hasn't thought of him that way. They don't belabour these little quirks, but the movie is filled with engaging touches such as this one, which can actually bring a lump to the throat in more sensitive viewers. Witness poor little Penny, an orphan who only wants a family to belong to, but has been forced to go hunting for a large diamond in a cave by Madame Medusa who assures her that nobody would ever want to adopt a plain child such as she.

Aww. It's business like this that makes it all the more imperative that the girl be found by Bernard and Miss Bianca, and they follow a trail around the city until they work out that it's the swamp they should be headed for. It's cheering that they should be provided with such selfless assistance along the way, notably by Orville the Albatross (Jim Jordan), an unsteady flier who nevertheless does his level best in taking the mice to their destination, despite an attack of fireworks. Then there's Evinrude the Dragonfly, who operates his own particular speedboat service with himself as the outboard motor - all he does is buzz but he's one of the best characters here. If it falls back on too much Disney action that we'd seen before, then no matter, as The Rescuers was a sincere and endearing example of their talent, and the best cartoon they ever put out in the seventies. Music by Artie Butler.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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