Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

It’s Time for an Animated Film!

Every year we review an animated film and this year it is:

I’ll always look back on that first with the most fondness; my introduction to Basil of Baker Street, the great mouse detective

So guess what guys! Bonus Disney film and bonus Vincent Price!

This was one of my upmost favorite films growing up. I don’t think I could ever fully explain how amazing this film is-it is just too good.

So the original story is a book Basil of Baker Street, which was awful-don’t read it. Instead, when Disney went into production they borrowed from The Sign of the Four, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and other of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works.

As my costume this year was Sherlock Jane Holmes Austen, I knew I had to review it.

Mystery, you say?

The main character Basil of Baker Street is a mousified version of Sherlock Holmes-a mix of Leslie Howard and Basil Rathbone (where his name comes from). This film not only has a great main character but the best Disney villain of all time, Ratigan.

Played by Vincent Price-this guy gives Professor Moriarty (Sherlock’s archnemsis) a real run for his money.

This film starts of with father and daughter-Hiram and Olivia Flaversham. Hiram is a toy inventor and is celebrating with the apple of his eye, Olivia. Unfortunately, her birthay is interrupted with intruders.

He quickly hides his daughter and then is kidnapped. 

Meanwhile, in London, Dr. David Q. Dawson has just arrived from Afghanistan, newly retired from the war. He’s looking for a place to stay and to begin his practice.

Dr. Dawson: Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.

He sees little Olivia trying to make her way down the street without being run over, and feels sorry for her. She tells him she is looking for the famous detective, and shows him a newspaper clipping. He agrees to help her, and off they go.

When they arrive at 221 1/2 Baker Street, Basil is not there. They decide to wait when they are interrupted by a strange looking mouse.

Yes, it is Basil of Baker Street, the Great Mouse Detective.

Put my crime-solving cap on.

Olivia tries to talk to him, but he ignores her…until she mentions a certain little fact:

Olivia Flaversham: I didn’t lose him. He was taken by a bat.

Basil: Did you say… bat?

Olivia Flaversham: Yes.

Basil: Did he have a crippled wing?

Olivia Flaversham: I don’t know, but he had a peg leg.

Basil: Ha!

Dr. Dawson: I say, do you know him?

Basil: Know him? That bat, one Fidget by name, is in the employ of the very fiend that was the target of my experiment! The horror of my every waking moment. The nefarious Professor Ratigan!

Dr. Dawson: Ratigan?

Basil: He’s a genius, Dawson. A genius twisted for evil. The Napoleon of crime!

Dr. Dawson: As bad as all that, eh?

Basil: Worse! For years I’ve tried to capture him, and I’ve come close, so very close, but each time he’s narrowly evaded my grasp! Not a corner of London is safe while Ratigan is at large. There’s no evil scheme he wouldn’t concoct. No depravity he wouldn’t commit. Who knows what dastardly scheme that villain may be plotting even as we speak.

From here we fade out to take a look at the villain-Ratigan (Vincent Price). His plan is to have Haversham create a toy mouse Queen, kidnap the real Queen, and use his toy/puppet to rule all mousedom. After his amazing reveal and we have THE BEST VILLAN SONG OUT OF ALL THE DISNEY VILLAN SONGS!!

So debonair, so evil, so classy, so demented, etc. He has it all. Fantastic!

Meanwhile, Fidget goes looking for the girl and to find out what Basil has unearthed. They spot him and the chase is on-after a quick stop to Sherlock Holmes’ flat (Sherlock Holmes speaks with the voice of Basil Rathbone. Since Rathbone was already deceased it was edited from his reading of the Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for Caedmon Records in 1966).

In the flat they pick up Toby, a dog, and track Fidget down to a toy store:

Olivia is stolen, but luckily they found the list and Basil uses al his power of deduction to find Ratigan’s lair.

It is time to suit up and head out. The two disguise themselves as sailors and head down to a tavern on the waterfront.

Bar Maid: What’ll you have?

Dr. Dawson: I’ll have a dry sherry, with, oh, perhaps a twist of…

Basil: Two pints for me and my shipmate. Oh, by the way. We just got into port. We’re looking for an old friend of mine. Maybe you know him. Goes by the name… of Ratigan! [Everyone at the bar gasps and turn to Basil]

Bar Maid: I… never heard of him.

Basil is on high alert and notices that the drinks have been roofied. But it is too late for Dawson who causes a giant scene:

When I was a kid I never noticed how racy this was. It almost didn’t make it in the final cut. I just remember enjoying the song.

Oh, well

So they get out of there and follow Fidget, but it turns out to be a trap. Ratigan has outwitted Basil. He takes his robot Queen, the Flavershams, and his crew and set off to fulfill his evil plan.

Let’s stop and talk about how awesome this scene is:

  1. Ratigan’s enthusiasm and how he can’t settle on one so he does all his ideas.
  2. How Basil figures out this plan and incorporates it, calculating in like a minute.
  3. When he is free the first thing he does is change back into his “uniform”.
  4. Basil catches Olivia as she is thrown through the air just like that.
  5. And he stops to have his picture taken.

Meanwhile, Ratigan has fooled the queen, abducted her, and has established his Robot Queen who has given him all the power.

Ratigan: I have the power!

Robot Queen: Of course you do.

Ratigan: I am supreme!

Robot Queen: Only you.

Ratigan: This is my kingdom! [maniacal laugh] That is, of course, with your highness’ permission. [the robot is idle; Ratigan slaps it to start it again]

Robot Queen: Most assuredly… you insidious fiend.

Ratigan: What?

Robot Queen: You’re not my royal consort!

Ratigan: [to crowd] Such a sense of humor.

Robot Queen: You’re a cheap fraud & impostor!

Ratigan: [under his breath] Flaversham!

Basil: [operating the robot] A corrupt, vicious, demented, lowlife scoundrel. There’s no evil scheme you wouldn’t concoct. [the robot goes crazy and breaks apart]

Robot Queen: No depravity you wouldn’t commit. You, professor, are none other than a foul stenchus rodentus, commonly known as a…

Ratigan: Don’t say it!

Basil: …Sewer rat!

Yes Basil came in just the nick of time. Ratigan escapes with Olivia and Basil and Dawson are on the train again. Basil crashes into Ratigan and they wind up in Big Ben and we have one of the most amazing scenes in Big Ben-and one of the scariest.

Back at Baker Street Hiram and Olivia leave to go home and get back to their lives-

Olivia Flaversham: Goodbye, Basil. [sniffles] I… I’ll never forget you.

Basil: Nor I you, Miss… Miss Flangerhanger.

Dr. Dawson: [chuckles] Whatever.

Afterwards, Dawson is going to go about what he originally planed t do, but Basil likes having a best friend.

Dr. Dawson: Well, it’s time I was on my way too.

Basil: But… umm… but I thought…

Dr. Dawson: Well, the case is over, and perhaps… well perhaps it’s best I found my own living quarters.

Basil: But…[Knock on doorOh, now who could that be?

[Dawson opens door; a lady mouse is standing there]

Lady Mouse: Is this the home of the famous Basil of Baker Street?

Dr. Dawson: Indeed it is, miss. You look as if you’re in some kind of trouble.

Lady Mouse: Oh, I am. I am.

Dr. Dawson: Then you have come to precisely the right place.

Basil: Ah, allow me to introduce my trusted associate Dr. Dawson, with whom I do all of my cases. Isn’t that right, doctor?

Dr. Dawson: Oh? Why, yes. By all means.

Basil: As you can see, Dawson, this young lady is from the Hampstead district, and is troubled about the mysterious disappearance of an emerald ring in the third finger of her right hand. Now, tell me the story, and pray, be precise.

And that is just the beginning-many more adventures are to cme. Although sadly they didn’t make any more movies. I don’t know why not!

It is such an amazing film, and I watched it over and over and over again as a child.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Those Men Are Not Going to Stand for Nancy Drew Poking Her Little Nose Into Their Affairs: Nancy Drew, Detective (1938)

For more The Great Mouse Detective, go to The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind

For more private investigators, go to Those Men Are Not Going to Stand for Nancy Drew Poking Her Little Nose Into Their Affairs: Nancy Drew, Detective (1938)

For more Vincent Price, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more Disney films, go to One Who Was Both Hero and Villain: Maleficent (2014)

Advertisements