The Rescuers is a 1977 American animated adventure comedy-drama produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The 23rd Disney animated feature film, the film is about the Rescue Aid Society, an international mouse organization headquartered in New York City and shadowing the United Nations, dedicated to helping abduction victims around the world at large. Two of these mice, jittery janitor Bernard (Bob Newhart) and his co-agent, the elegant Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor), set out to rescue Penny (Michelle Stacy), an orphan girl being held prisoner in the Devil's Bayou by treasure huntress Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page). The film is based on a series of books by Margery Sharp, most notably The Rescuers and Miss Bianca.
Two mice of the Rescue Aid Society search for a little girl kidnapped by unscrupulous treasure hunters.
Why It Rocks
- Nicely done, smooth animation, even for the late 1970s.
- The voice actors give brilliant performances, mainly from Bob Newhart as Bernard and Eva Gabor as Miss Bianca.
- A very original, well-thought out and nicely developed story line.
- Bernard and Bianca share amazing chemistry with each other through out the film.
- Madame Medusa is an entertaining villain with original motives and Geraldine Page does a great job voicing her. In fact, Medusa was such an amazing villain, she would later be partial inspiration for another Disney villain, Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
- Excellent character development.
- Likable, unforgettable and sympathetic characters, especially the young orphan, Penny.
- It’s sequel, The Rescuers Down Under was just as good.
- Many memorable, well-executed moments, such as the final battle scene and the villain’s defeat.
- The infamous blink-and-you’ll-miss-it naked woman in the window scene which was later cut during a re-release.
The Rescuers was successful upon its original theatrical release earning worldwide rentals of $48 million at the box office. During its initial release in France, it out-grossed Star Wars and has total admissions of 7.2 million. and became the highest-grossing film in West Germany at the time. The film is the eighteenth most popular film of all time in Germany with admissions of 9.7 million.
After the 1983 re-issue, the distributor rentals amounted to $19 million in the U.S. and Canada while its international rentals totaled $41 million.
The Rescuers was re-issued in 1989 and grossed $21.2 million in the United States and Canada. In its total lifetime domestic gross, the film has made $71.2 million, and its total lifetime worldwide gross is $169 million.
The Rescuers was said to be Disney's greatest film since Mary Poppins (1964), and seemed to signal a new golden age for Disney animation. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the film "doesn't belong in the same category as the great Disney cartoon features (Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Fantasia) but it's a reminder of a kind of slickly cheerful, animated entertainment that has become all but extinct." TV Guide gave the film three stars out of five, opining that The Rescuers "is a beautifully animated film that showed Disney still knew a lot about making quality children's fare even as their track record was weakening." They also praised the voice acting of the characters, and stated that the film is "a delight for children as well as adults who appreciate good animation and brisk storytelling." Ellen MacKay of Common Sense Media gave the film four out of five stars, writing, "Great adventure, but too dark for preschoolers".
In his book, The Disney Films, film historian Leonard Maltin refers to The Rescuers as "a breath of fresh air for everyone who had been concerned about the future of animation at Walt Disney's," praises its "humor and imagination and [that it is] expertly woven into a solid story structure [...] with a delightful cast of characters." Finally, he declares the film "the most satisfying animated feature to come from the studio since 101 Dalmatians." He also briefly mentions the ease with which the film surpassed other animated films of its time. The film's own animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston stated in their website that The Rescuers had been their return to a film with heart and also considered it their best film without Walt Disney. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received a 83% approval rating with an average rating of 6.6/10 based on 26 reviews. The website's consensus states that "Featuring superlative animation, off-kilter characters, and affectionate voice work by Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, The Rescuers represents a bright spot in Disney's post-golden age."
Jack Shaheen, in his study of Hollywood portrayals and stereotypes of Arabs, noted the inclusion of delegates from Arab countries in the Rescue Aid Society.