ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Second Look: The Great Mouse Detective

Updated on January 12, 2016
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1986, Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, and John Musker released The Great Mouse Detective as the 26th feature in the Disney Animated Canon. Based on the book series Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus and drawing heavily on the Sherlock Holmes tradition, the film starred Barrie Ingham, Vincent Price, Val Bettin, Candy Candido, Frank Welker and Alan Young with a voice sample of Basil Rathbone. Grossing $38.7 million at the box office, the film convinced then Disney CEO Michael Eisner to continue making animated films.


Toymaker and mechanical genius Hiram Flaversham is kidnapped, causing his daughter, Olivia, to hire Basil of Baker Street to find him. Along the way, she meets Dr. Dawson and finds that Basil is reluctant to take the case until he realizes that it was his arch-enemy, Professor Ratigan that kidnapped Olivia’s father.


The Great Mouse Detective is a great film in its own right, with a fun story that seems almost ludicrous at first, a mouse who lives under Sherlock Holmes’ apartment and investigates a disappearance case. But when it comes down to it, the film takes what seems like it would never work and makes it work, all while continually topping itself. It starts with a kidnapping, then introduces wild and energetic basil, which shows the audience everything they need to know about the character. From there, Ratigan is introduced through a villain song where he kills a character simply for saying the wrong thing. The ensuing chase in the toy shop is interesting as every character uses their surroundings for their advantage, but that melts into the Victorian strip tease (where the original review mentioned being one of Disney’s best musical numbers) and the trap scene where Basil shows off how quickly his intellect works. This is followed by one of the most well-known uses of CGI in the 1980s with one of the best climactic fights in an animated film. The plot is fun, it’s got quite a bit of action and the only times it reigns itself in is to give the audience a brief breather before ramping everything up again. And it all works wonderfully.

And that’s nothing to say of the characters, especially Basil who is Sherlock Holmes in mouse form with lightning intellect and quite a bit of eccentric qualities, like shooting a group of pillows to test the bullet from a gun. And though he can be a bit rude at times, especially in the early film, it’s clear that at first, he doesn’t really have a lot of social skills because he’s by himself for most of the time, which can be seen when he’s trying to cheer Dawson up. However, Olivia and Dawson end up bringing out his more empathetic side making for some good character development. Ratigan is also a great foil to Basil namely in how he acts friendly towards his minions, except those who say the wrong thing, but it’s obvious he’s downright evil from the villain song that he and said minions sing. And where Basil gets kinder and more empathetic throughout the film, Ratigan gets more crazed, which really comes out in the Big Ben scene. There, he flies into an unstoppable rage in order to kill Basil. It’s very interesting to see both characters turn into the opposite of what they began the film as: Basil turning from a jerk with no social skills to less of a jerk who softens up and Ratigan from an affably hammy villain into a near insane psycho.

It also must be noted what this film did for Disney studios. The film that preceded this one, The Black Cauldron, did horribly and nearly shut the studio down. However, not only did this do well, but it saved animated films at Disney because of it doing so well and essentially launched it into the Disney Renaissance. It could be said that this film planted the seeds for what eventually became one of the most popular eras of Disney Animation. And it’s interesting that not only did it all start with a mouse, but another one saved it.

5 stars for The Great Mouse Detective

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)