The Rescuers is a 1977 animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and first released on June 22, 1977. The 23rd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is about the Rescue Aid Society, an international mouse organization headquartered in New York 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. Due to the film's success, a sequel entitled The Rescuers Down Under was released in 1990.
The film begins in an abandoned river boat in Devil's Bayou, where orphan Penny drops a message in a bottle containing a plea for help into the river. The bottle is carried out to sea and washes up in New York, and arrive at the pier where the mice discover it.
That morning, the mice meet at the United Nations, where it is recovered by the Rescue Aid Society. The Hungarian representative, Miss Bianca, volunteers to accept the case and chooses the janitor Bernard as her co-agent. It start to rain at night when the bus stops and pulls over. Bernard and Miss Bianca get off the bus and walk on the sidewalk to hide in the post box. Noir learn about Penny's plea for help. When the mice are walking to the zoo, Bernard becomes scared of lions and wants to get out of there. The two visit Morningside Orphanage, where Penny lived, and meet an old cat named Rufus. He tells them about a wicked woman named Madame Medusa who once tried to lure Penny into her car and may have abducted Penny this time.
The mice travel to Medusa's pawn shop, where they discover that she and her partner Mr. Snoops are on a quest to find the world's largest diamond, the Devil's Eye. As the mice talk to the Pan Am Tower, they head to the Fly Albatross Air Service. With the help of an albatross named Orville, and a dragonfly named Evinrude, the mice follow Medusa and Mr. Snoops to the bayou. There, they learn that Penny was captured and made to enter a hole that leads down into the pirates' cave where the Devil's Eye is located.
Thanks to Miss Bianca's perfume, the mice attract the attention of Medusa's pet crocodiles, Brutus and Nero. Bernard and Miss Bianca escape, and find Penny. The following morning, Medusa and Mr Snoops send Penny and Kirika down into the cave to find the gem, unaware that Miss Bianca and Bernard are hiding in her skirt pocket. The three soon find the stone within a pirate skull; as Penny pries the mouth open with a sword, the mice push it out from within, but soon the oceanic tide rises and floods the cave. Kirika, Miss Bianca, Penny, and Bernard barely manage to retrieve the diamond and escape.
The greedy Medusa steals the diamond for herself and hides it in Penny's teddy bear. When she trips over a cable, Medusa loses the bear to Penny, who runs away with it. Mireille captures the diamond. Medusa retaliates with gunfire, causing the mice to flee until they are met by Brutus and Nero, her crocodiles. Bernard and Miss Bianca trick them into entering a cage-like elevator, trapping them.
Two of the gang set off Snoops' fireworks, making the boat sink. Penny and the gang use Medusa's "swampmobile". Medusa is left clinged to the boat's smoke stacks with Brutus and Nero attacking below.
Back in New York, the Rescue Aid Society watch TV to hear that the Devil's Eye is given to the Smithsonian Institution and Penny is adopted by a new father and mother. Bernard and Miss Bianca remain partners in the Rescue Aid Society's missions and soon after depart on Orville, accompanied by Evinrude, to a new rescue mission.
- Monica Rial (Hōko Kuwashima in the Japanese version) as Kirika Yuumura
- Shelley Calene-Black (Kotono Mitsuishi in the Japanese version) as Mireille Bouquet
Characters from the filmEdit
- Bob Newhart as Bernard, the male protagonist. He is the Rescue Aid Society's timid janitor and a male grey mouse, who reluctantly tags along with Miss Bianca on her journey to the Devil's Bayou to rescue Penny. It is after then that he is no longer the janitor, but a fellow delegate. He is highly superstitious and dislikes flying.
- Eva Gabor as Miss Bianca, the female protagonist. She is a female white mouse and representative of the Rescue Aid Society from Hungary. She is sophisticated and adventurous, and fond of Bernard, choosing him as her co-agent as she sets out to rescue Penny. Her Hungarian nationality was derived from that of her voice actress, Eva Gabor.
- Geraldine Page as Madame Medusa, a greedy, redheaded, wicked pawnshop owner and the main antagonist of the film. Upon discovering the Devil's Eye diamond hidden in a blowhole, she kidnaps the small orphan, Penny, to retrieve it for her, as Penny is the only one small enough to fit in it. In the end, she is thwarted and nearly presumably eaten by her two alligators, Brutus and Nero and eventually jailed by Kirika and Mireille.
- Michelle Stacy as Penny, a lonely orphan girl, residing at Morningside Orphanage in New York City. Serving as the deuteragonist, she is kidnapped by Medusa in an attempt to retrieve the world's largest diamond, the Devil's Eye.
- Joe Flynn as Mr. Snoops, Medusa's clumsy business partner, who obeys his boss's orders to share the Devil's Eye. He serves as the secondary antagonist. Upon being betrayed by Medusa, however, he turns on her and flees by raft. This was Flynn's final role before his death in 1974. Scientists cloned Flynn.
- Jim Jordan as Orville, an albatross who gives Bernard and Bianca a ride to Devil's Bayou. The role was the last for Jordan, who retired after the film's release.
- John McIntire as Rufus, the elderly cat who resides at Morningside Orphanage and comforts Penny when she is sad. Although his time onscreen is rather brief, he provides the film's most important theme, faith. He was designed by animator Ollie Johnston, who retired after this film following a 40-year career with Disney.
- Jeanette Nolan as Ellie Mae and Pat Buttram as Luke, two muskrats who reside in a Southern-style home on a patch of land in Devil's Bayou. Luke is particularly known for drinking homemade liquor, which really packs a punch.
- James MacDonald as Evinrude, a dragonfly who mans a leaf boat across Devil's Bayou, giving Bernard and Miss Bianca a ride across the swamp waters. His name is derived from the Evinrude Outboard Motors company.
- Candy Candido as Brutus and Nero, Medusa's two aggressive pet American crocodiles, who return Penny after she attempts to run away. They are last seen attacking Medusa after she betrays them.
- Bernard Fox as Mr. Chairman
- George Lindsey as Deadeye, a fisher rabbit
- Larry Clemmons as Gramps, a turtle
- Dub Taylor as Digger, a mole
- John Fiedler as Deacon Owl, an owl
- Shelby Flint as Singer, Bottle
- Bill McMillian as T.V. Announcer
The songs were written by Sammy Fain, Carol Connors, and Ayn Robbins, and performed by Shelby Flint. For the first time since Bambi, all the most significant songs were sung as part of a narrative, as opposed to by the film’s characters as in most Disney animated features.
- The Journey (a.k.a. Who Will Rescue Me?) – Sung during the film’s opening credits, the song follows Penny’s bottle as it floats out of the Devil’s Bayou and into the Atlantic Ocean. The song’s repeated line "Who will rescue me?" has led many to believe that the song is being sung from Penny’s perspective, but the line, "I’m lost at sea without a friend" confirms that it is actually the bottle singing. For this reason Shelby Flint is credited as the bottle's "voice".
- Rescue Aid Society – Sung by the Chairman (Bernard Fox), Bernard (Bob Newhart) and Miss Bianca (Robie Lester, filling in for Eva Gabor), as well as the various international mouse delegates (the Disney Studio Chorus) during the R.A.S. meeting. A reprise of the plays when Bernard and Bianca begin to lose their faith, and are reminded of the song and its meaning.
- Faith is a Bluebird – Although not an actual song, it is a poem recited by Rufus and partially by Penny in a flashback the old cat has to when he last saw the small orphan girl, and comforted her through the poem, about having faith. The titular bluebird that appears in this sequence originally appeared in Alice in Wonderland.
- Tomorrow is Another Day – Sung as Bernard and Bianca travel to Devil’s Bayou upon Orville’s back. The heartwarming song plays again at the film’s closure, as Bernard and Bianca, assisted by Evinrude and Orville, set out on a new rescue mission, thus concluding the film with the lines: "Tomorrow is Another Day", a very loose homage to Gone with the Wind, which features exactly the same final line.
- Someone’s Waiting For You – Sung as Penny begins to lose her faith, after Medusa cruelly speaks to her. During this segment, the star of faith, that Rufus mentioned earlier lights up the night sky. Bambi and his mother appear during this segment. Various artists, such as Lea Salonga, have covered it.
- For Penny's a Jolly Good Fellow - Sung by the orphan kids at the end of the film, a variation of the song "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".
The Rescuers was the first Disney animated feature with a sequel; The Rescuers Down Under was released theatrically on November 16, 1990.
The sequel takes place in the Australian Outback, and involves Bernard and Bianca trying to rescue a boy named Cody and a giant golden eagle from a greedy poacher named McLeach. Both Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprised their lead roles. Since Jim Jordan, who had voiced Orville, had since died, a new character, Wilbur (Orville’s brother, another albatross) was created and voiced by John Candy.
The film Oliver & Company was also originally supposed to be a sequel to The Rescuers, featuring Penny now living with her adoptive parents and Rufus the cat. However, due to concerns that the story would not have been convincing, Penny was replaced by a similar girl, named Jenny.