I decided to ease into my R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril viewing. My plan is to view several films featuring Vincent Price, one of my all-time favorite classic horror stars. Price starred in films ranging from The Abominable Dr. Phibes to House of Wax. In 1986, The Great Mouse Detective, based the book Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, was released. Vincent Price gave voice to Basil's arch-enemy, the fiendish Professor Ratigan. The movie may be animated but Price definitely makes Ratigan a villain you love to hate. He has such a delightfully evil little chuckle and he's so self-aware in his fiendish ways.
The story is obviously a tribute to Holmes....complete with a Doctor sidekick in Dawson and Ratigan's tip of the hat to Professor Moriarty. We have Basil (and Dawson!) going undercover as seamen and the use of Toby (the only name not changed) to track the evildoers. It is a pleasant animated adventure that will make Holmes fans feel right at home.
Ratigan has hatched an evil plot to take over all of mousedom. The queen, most Victoria-like, is celebrating her jubilee and the professor plans to make this year her last on the throne. He kidnaps a toymaker and forces him to create a replacement. In the meantime, the toymaker's daughter Olivia has been found by Dr. Dawson who guides her to the address of Basil of Baker Street--the greatest mouse detective. Basil, Dawson, and Olivia all work together track Ratigan down.....but Ratigan knows that Basil's on his trail and has a few surprises of his own.
Being a Holmes fan, I was anxious to see this when it came out. I thought then, and still do, that it is one of the best Disney animated films to come out in the 80s and early 90s. It's lots of fun and a nice tribute to the Holmes tradition. I enjoyed introducing it to my son when he was small....and I enjoyed sitting down and revisiting tonight.
Professor Ratigan: Oh, I love it when I'm nasty.
Ratigan: Oh, my dear Bartholomew. I'm afraid you have gone and upset me. You know what happens when someone upsets me.
Basil: I would think a stout-hearted army mouse like you would leap at a chance for adventure.
Ratigan: Fidget, you delightful little maniac! You've provided me with a singular opportunity. Poor Basil. Oh, he's in for a little surprise.
Basil: Remember, Dawson, we're low-life ruffians.
Dr. Dawson: Well, I was until that....
Ratigan: Bravo! Bravo! A marvelous performance! Although I was expecting you fifteen minutes earlier. Trouble with the chemistry set, old boy?
Basil: Ratigan, no one can have a higher opinion of you than I have, and I think you're a slimy, contemptible sewer rat!
Ratigan: You don't know what a delightful dilemma it was, trying to decide on the most appropiate method for your demise. Oh, I had so many ingenious ideas I didn't know which to choose. So I decided to use them all. Marvelous, isn't it? But, here, let me show you how it works. Picture this, first, a sprightly tune I've recorded especially for you. As the song plays, the cord tightens, and when the song ends, the metal ball is released, rolling along its merry way until...
[points at mousetrap] Slap!
[points at gun] Boom!
[points at crossbow] Twang!
[points at axe] Dunk!
[points at anvil] SPLAT!
And so ends the short, undistinguished career of Basil of Baker Street.
Dr. Dawson: You're despicable!
Ratigan: [chuckles] Yes.
Ratigan: Oh, this is wicked. So delightfully wicked!
Dr. Dawson: You fiend!
Ratigan: Sorry, chubby. You should have chosen your friends more carefully.