The Rescuers


Bob Newhart as Mr. Bernard
Eva Gabor as Miss Bianca
Geraldine Page as Madame Medusa
Joe Flynn as Mr. Snoops: the Swamp Custodian
Jeanette Nolan as Ellie Mae (Swamp Mouse)
Pat Buttram as Luke (Swamp Mouse)
Jim Jordan as Albatross Orville
John McIntire as Rufus the Elderly Cat
Michelle Stacy as Little Orphan Penny
Bernard Fox as Mr. Chairman (The Judge of Mice)
Larry Clemmons as Gramps the Turtle
James MacDonald as Evinrude
Bill McMillian as TV Announcer
Dub Taylor as Digger the Gopher
John Fiedler as Deacon Owl

Special Features:
– “The Ultimate Case” Set Top Game
– “Water Birds” Disney True Life Adventure
– The Rescuers Scrapbook
– “Under The Hat Villains”
– “Three Blind Mousketeers” Silly Symphony Animated Short
– “Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing Along

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.66:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language Tracks
Running Time: 76 Minutes

The Rescuers originally hit theaters in 1977 and is now being issued by Disney on DVD.

Mr. Bernard and Mrs. Bianca are members of the Rescue Aid Society, an international organization of mice dedicated to helping man or animal when needed. When they discover a message in a bottle with a plea for help, Bernard and Bianca are sent to investigate. They discover that the message was written by Penny, a young orphan who was recently abducted in New York City. She’s being held Madame Medusa in the swamps somewhere in the South. She’s looking for the world’s largest diamond among some hidden pirate treasure in a cave. Medusa needs a small child like Penny to fit in the cave and recover it. Penny’s only hope of escape lies with the tiny mice, but how can they save her in such a big world?

The Rescuers is rated G.

The Movie:
I originally saw this movie when I was a kid back in 1977. I remember enjoying it back then. But now upon viewing it as an adult, I’m not particularly fond of it. It’s dark, depressing, and slowly paced. My kids were bored with it and so was I.

First of all, the story is really dark. After all, it’s about an orphan child being abducted and forced into slave labor. Not exactly cheery material. Then much of the movie is set in a scary location in the swamp with dangerous creatures lurking about. The alligators chase Penny down, snatch her in their mouths, and carry her back. Then, in the finale, Madame Medusa fires a shotgun trying to shoot Penny. All in all, it’s pretty intense stuff.

This film was also made in the dark days of Disney animation and it is very apparent. The musical numbers are slow and depressing. I can’t even remember what the titles of the songs were. The animation is also significantly cruder than later Disney films and it lacks the charm of earlier Disney animation. One interesting note is that it is one of the early films of Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and their influences can be seen here and there throughout the characters and animation. The voice casting is also not as dynamic. While I like Bob Newhart, he sounded like he was half asleep while recording the dialogue.

There are a few high points, though. The dragonfly Evinrude not only offers up some much-needed humor, he also provides some of the cool chases in the film. Using him as a boat motor was a clever piece of storytelling. The albatross Orville also provides some memorable flight scenes before rather quickly disappearing. And while practically all of the music is utterly forgettable, the theme song for the Rescue Aid Society will stick in your mind well after viewing the film.

Overall this is a rather dark piece of Disney cinematic history that only animation buffs are going to get the biggest kick out of.

The Extras:
If you’re looking for the definitive edition of The Rescuers, this is not it. There are barely any extras relating to the film:

“The Ultimate Case” Set Top Game – In this game you search for objects in four different pictures. Once you have found the objects, you look for Penny’s teddy bear. Once you’ve found it, you’ve won the game. My kid enjoyed it, but it’s one of the simpler games I’ve seen on a DVD.

“Water Birds” Disney True Life Adventure – This has no relation to The Rescuers other than it features water birds and an albatross. It’s from an old series of Disney documentaries featuring wildlife footage. As old as it is, it’s still fun to watch the birds do stupid and amusing things.

The Rescuers Scrapbook – The DVD case gives the impression that there are behind the scenes videos and music in this feature, but there aren’t. It’s just a bunch of stills from the production featuring the cast and crew. There are also sketches from character development, production paintings, and other stills. I was hoping for more. At least a video interview with Gabor and Newhart would have been nice.

“Under The Hat Villains” – This seems to have been some sort of featurette shoved between shows on the Disney Channel. It really has nothing to do with The Rescuers at all. The animators of Jafar and the bad guy from Tarzan talk about what makes a good villain. The whole thing’s only a couple of minutes long.

“Three Blind Mousketeers” Silly Symphony Animated Short – This classic Disney cartoon features three blind mice that dress as musketeers. A cat sets traps for them throughout a house trying to kill them and eat them. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law rules and he fails. Again, this has nothing to do with The Rescuers.

“Someone’s Waiting For You” Sing Along – This is one of the songs from the movie with words at the bottom of the screen. It’s not a good song or a good feature.

The Bottom Line:
This DVD is rather light on extras and the presentation is unimpressive. I think children and adults will be more entertained with other Disney features. The Rescuers is mainly for animation buffs, Disney fans, and people looking for a bit of nostalgia.