A touching tale of faith, courage and bravery that would bring the Walt Disney Company out of the Dark Age that began with the death of its legendary founder Walt Disney a decade earlier. The Rescuers is Disney’s most successful film of the 1970′s and is generally regarded as an all-time Disney classic. The film is loosely based on the novels The Rescuers and Miss Bianca by Margery Sharp and is the result of 4 years hard work as well as Disney’s return to films with heart. Believe me this film has heart and plenty of it.
The story begins one evening on an old boat in the murky waters of Devil’s Bayou, where a young orphan girl called Penny (Michelle Stacey) is being held prisoner. She sends a message in a bottle which is discovered by a New York based organisation called the Rescue Aid Society, represented by mice from all over the world. Upon discovering the message, the RAS’s Hungarian agent Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) volunteers to go on the mission to save the girl, accompanied by timid local agent Bernard (Bob Newhart).
After finding no sign of Penny at her old orphanage, and a chance encounter with Rufus the cat (John McIntire), Bernard and Bianca soon realise that Penny’s captors are the notorious treasure-hunters Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page) and Mr. Snoops (Joe Flynn). They are after the Devil’s Eye, the world’s largest diamond, hidden in a pirate’s cave in Devil’s Bayou. The courageous mice fly to Devil’s Bayou on Orville the albatross (Jim Jordan), and are led to the river boat by Evinrude the dragonfly (James McDonald).
Bernard and Bianca’s attempts to rescue Penny are constantly thwarted by Medusa and her pet crocodiles Brutus and Nero (Candy Candido) and seek help from the local swamp folk (Jeanette Nolan and Pat Buttram). Thankfully, they manage to find Penny, who is one of the bravest characters ever to grace a Disney film. So begins a daring escape that only this small band of heroes could possibly attempt. At the same time, there is the lingering threat of Medusa and Snoops sending the innocent child into the cave to retrieve the diamond. But what these villains don’t know is that size does not matter.
It is clear from the beginning that this is a film that will steal the hearts of all who are watching it in many ways. There is a great sense of faith and courage in the darkest of times, especially with regards to what has happened to Penny. The child has been kidnapped by Disney’s most evil, scheming villain since Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians (1961) when all she wants is a loving family who will adopt her. Everyone who knows her is clearly concerned for her, but are no longer searching for her, so it is all up to Bernard and Bianca to do just that. My only criticism being that I feel the film as a whole is just a little short at just an hour and a quarter long and could go at a slightly slower pace.
The Rescuers is Disney’s most successful film since The Jungle Book (1967) and it is not at all hard to see why. This is clearly a story that proves that a little faith can go a long way as no-one reckons that Bernard and Bianca are up to the task of saving Penny. But these are 2 little mice with 2 big hearts and they will never give up. I have seen the film for myself and I never feel surprised to know that it is a true Disney classic that even the great Walt Disney himself would have been proud of. So the next time you feel hopeless, just look out for any blue birds and think about this film and in time, things will eventually turn out right.