Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: The Rescuers

Walt Disney Animation Studios 23rd feature film


My opinion right after watching film

My opinion right after watching this film is that it is the best film in a while in the canon. Though the film is EXTREMELY 70s (it’s entire soundtrack is 70s ballad music), a MAJOR confusion with the world in the movie, and that while the animation is not that impressive, it has likable characters, and probably the best pacing in the canon so far.


The film started production around the time Robin Hood was released in 1973, but it was being discussed when Walt was alive, but he did not like the idea of adapting the 1959 book of The Rescuers. This movie was the result of the original crew dying and retiring from old age (being the last film of MANY of them to be working for the studio), and a newer crew (a majority of them working on the renaissance and the present films) entering the studio (after being hired in the mid 70s) to take over the studio.

This film broke the trend of the overall pop-culture, comedy, jazz-themed movies of the 60s and 70s, being the first one to have heart in it. This film is also the end of the sketchy look of the films, as the new xerography was able to form colored lines (which the previous films only had black lines), which will be used until The Little Mermaid.


So Penny (Michelle Stacy) is in the middle of an abandoned bayou, and sent a letter in a bottle through a river. It somehow ends up in New York, and the Rescue Aid Society gets it. There is a meeting, and they all sing their anthem Rescue Aid Society as the late Hungarian worker Bianca (Eva Gabor) enters, and immediately catches the men’s eyes.

Janitor Bernard (Bob Newheart) takes the note out of the bottle, and Bianca decides to take the job. They let her be the first girl to take on a major case because they are in the modern world and all of that, but she has to take a male co-worker, but she chooses Bernard, who she has had her eye on.

They work together, and it is already well established that Bianca is the ballsy and curious one, with Bernard being more superstitious and cowardly. They go to the orphanage, and are introduced to Rufus the cat (John McIntire), who tell them about Penny being depressed, being taken by who he thinks to be Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page), and the police stopping the search for her.

There is an issue; the cat can ACTUALLY TALK TO PENNY. How can animals and humans speak the exact same language. This is not the world where all animals are anthropomorphic, as it is VERY much 1970s New York . This happens later in the film when Penny speaks to Bernard and Bianca. This is never explained. Wtf.

So they go to Cruella De Vil Madame Medusa’s shop and find Penny’s book, realizing that she is definitely involved in the kidnapping of Penny. She appears as she gets a call, as she revealed that Penny has been in the bayou for 3 months. Medusa  Cruella Medusa decides that she is going to the bayou immediately to get her diamond, and Bianca and Bernard sneak into the suitcase, but fall out because of Medusa’s careless driving.

They instead get to the bayou by an Albatross named Orville (Jim Jordan), and Bernard and Bianca finally hook up as the song Tomorrow is Another Day plays. Penny has escaped, and the alligators are sent to catch her, which they eventually do. Orville crashes and lands where a bunch of country animals live. They help Bianca and Bernard to get to Penny.

I like how this film does not judge by gender, and I love how both Bianca and Bernard save one another, being equally proactive. I have to say, this film has great pacing. I don`t feel so far that there were unnecessary parts in it.

So Penny, the alligators, and the duo make it to the house, and when Madame Medusa enters, she throws a hissy fit and tells her assistant that she will bring Penny to the hole herself tomorrow, and will not leave until she gets the diamond.  We have a funny scene with the Alligators playing the piano to get Bernard and Bianca, with Medusa shooting up the place.

They lose faith, and we have the low point of the film, with Bernard wanting to quit, and the theme of the film is established; what can a small person do. Penny is crying as well, while Bianca tells him that thy cannot give up (as the Rescue Aid Society song is played over it), which lifts their spirits.

The pair meet with Penny and speaks about her having to escape tonight, but that does not happen. Word gets back to the country animals to help rescue her. Medusa and co. have Penny searching for the diamond the next morning with her yelling. She almost drowns as she finds the diamond with Bernard and Bianca, which excites Medusa, as she double crosses Snoops.

She holds him and Penny at gunpoint,  but the animals chase Medusa off, who ends up losing the diamond and fearing for her life, as she is trapped by the alligators waiting to eat her. Penny returns to the orphanage to be deemed as a hero for getting the diamond, and she finally gets adopted. Bernard and Bianca take on another case and start their journey to being the best duo of the Rescue Aid Society, leading them to the sequel.


The film definitely has heart. I like the more serious tone that has been missing for the past 15-20 years of input beforehand, and for once, it had GOOD PACING. The characters were more likable than they have in the most recent outputs, and the story was more engaging. I wish that some things were a bit more realistic (like humans and animals talking), the animation not being so dull, and the film aged better.


While the characters are not as developed as they could have been, they have more personality than the ones beforehand. They are easy to root for and to relate to. There are a few that are not as strong as they could have been, but do play their roles well enough.

He is the more practical, superstitious, cowardly, cautious, and sensible one out of the two. He is likable enough, and I relate to his need for safety. I wish he had more background though. He has great chemistry with Bianca.
I like how she is really girly, but not afraid to get dirty. She is adventurous, sassy, stylish, caring, flirty, and romantic. She is a breath of fresh air, as she is productive, and loves helping others.
She is a copy of Cruella De Vil, but not as memorable. She is effective in being a scary and crazy villain though.
She is the typical, cutesy child. She is not bad (though her voice can get annoying), but you really feel bad for her.
Blah, forgettable, pathetic, blah.


The animation is not that impressive. Okay, there are some good parts to it. The xerography looks a lot smoother, and I like the darker atmosphere that the animation and coloring gives off. Though the issues with it is that there are a lot of white lines and shading that signifies that the new process of xerography was not perfected, a lot of the wrong movements stick out like a sore thumb, and it has somewhat of a rough look to it at times. You can just tell that some things do not add up well.


The music is good; not excellent, but good. I do remember some of the score and songs, and it has a soothing melody. It is very 70s though, and the soundtrack has aged a lot. I guess it fits because they are in 1970s New York. The soundtrack is not ones that will be in the top 20s , but it can hold it’s own.

Reception at Release

When the film was released on June 22nd, 1977, it was praised and was a HUGE success, being the most successful of the canon to be released so far. Out of it’s $8 million budget, it made  $48 million in the box office, being a record of the time, which would be broken in 1986 by The American Tail. It is the only significant box office success in the Dark Age. The song “Someone was Waiting for You” was nominated  an Academy Award, but lost.

Reception Today

Today, it is one of the more forgotten but not ashamed ones, but it is one of the ONLY films to have a sequel film to be IN the Walt Disney Animation Studios canon, called The Rescuers Down Under, which was released in 1990.

Final Score

Story: 8/10

Characters: 7.5/10

Animation: 6/10

Music: 7.5/10

= 29/40 = 73%

Next Time…

Review: May 26th, 2014

16 thoughts on “Walt Disney Animation Studios Review: The Rescuers

    1. I do understand how it can bore many people. The dull and weak animation does not help either. I still think it is better than Down Under.

    2. Really? The scene in the cave bores you? It is one of the most suspenseful in canon. Or the organ scene? (which is both suspenseful and hilarious, imho)
      You know, the movie is crazy popular in Germany (which, I guess, is the reason it got a sequel, there was a huge market outside the US to tab in), and certainly not forgotten.
      I usually don’t compare it to Down Under, though, mostly because the two movies belong in two different genres. This one is mostly a detective story, showing how Bernard and Bianca follow clues to find Penny. Down Under is an Action flick, plain and simple, and not even a bad one. One movie has songs, the other doesn’t. One concentrates on the rescuers, the other on the plight of the victim. It is more or less the same story, but told from two totally different angles. I guess it is pretty much a matter of taste which on you like better (though in my case, it’s The Rescuers).

      1. Well, since they are a franchise, and Down Under is a sequel, I have to compare them. Rule #1 with sequels. My thing is that you should not make a sequel and not have the same integrity as the first one, but I will get into that in my Down Under review.

        I don’t really find this film boring, but some parts in the beginning do drag a bit, and Bernard’s mumbling does not help catch your attention.

        I never knew it was so popular in Europe.

      2. I think they did…they used the same voice actors as they had in the first one, replace Orville with Wilbur for the sole reason that the voice actor was already dead at this point, and they showed Bernard and Bianca at a totally different point of their relationship instead of pretending that they are still exactly the same mice we left. Granted, a lot of decisions they made were most likely based on “we have this great new animation technology, so let us show it off” – but I truly believe that they had a great respect for the original.

  1. I like this film. Great review! Spot on, but I disagree on one. I find the pacing a bit off. Sure its mostly consistent, but some scenes drags on unnecessarily. Aldo, I really like the girl. I think she’s really brave. And yea lol, I got the same reaction about the animals talking thing, but I’m fine with it since they mocked that same notion in the end of the film.

    1. I think it is honestly the setting and the low voice acting that makers certain things drag to me. The animal and human thing bothered me because it was such a huge copout.

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