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26th Feb 2014, 10:20 AM Inspirations: Great Mouse Detective Part III

PART 3:

After the song, we move back to Basil and co. who have set out on the case, taking with them Toby, a dog who belongs to Sherlock Holmes. The dog follows the scent on a shoe that was left behind by Fidget, which leads them to a toy shop. Inside, Fidget is in the process of stealing various items.

Our heroes pursue Fidget, but he manages to get away from them and kidnap the girl at the same time. He leaves behind the list he was carrying by accident, which is found by Dawson and Basil who take it back to Basil’s lab in hopes it will lead them to the girl and her father.

If I did have one problem, I’d say Fidget really isn’t my favorite character.

When I was kid I actually was kind of weirded out by him. He doesn’t really look realistic but doesn’t have a lot of the normal cartoon conventions either. With bulging yellow eyes and an uncomfortably large mouth; Yeah, I’m not a fan.

But the voice is what really clinches it. Picture Gollum if he smoked a pack of Newport’s every day for ten years; It used to be scary, now it’s just grating.

But, no movie is without sin so, moving on.

So Basil and Dawson figure out -- in a very awesome sequence where Basil makes Chemistry look way more interesting than it actually is -- where they can find Fidget so that he will hopefully lead them to Ratigan, the girl, and her father.

They enter a small pub “Where the sewer connects to the river front” disguised as seamen. They sit down and order some drinks. Next, there is a song sequence: Let me be good to you.

Ok now I will talk about Henry Mancini.

He’s one of those guys who did so many things and you probably wouldn’t even know it unless you looked him up. Most people are aware of him as the composer of The Pink Panther Theme, but he was one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century writing score for literally hundreds of movies and TV shows.

He’s also notable to be one of the first to incorporate jazz into his scores along with traditional orchestral accompaniments. This is what helped film scores of the 60’s stand out from the ones of previous eras and gave the decade its own unique feel.

Speaking of jazz, that’s exactly what this number is. I said before I didn’t know exactly what year the story is set in, but if the musical style of this song is any indication, I’d say it’s probably 1910-20. For one thing, there is a horse and carriage at the beginning so it must be before Henry Ford at least. I don’t know, maybe I’m over-analyzing it.

Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention this song features a striptease. Yep, that’s right folks, there’s a stripper in a Disney movie.

Now of course it’s not explicit, in fact all the girl actually does is change from a very modest outfit to a more risqué one. But even when I was a kid I knew what it was supposed to be.

A funny story: There’s a line in the song that says “I’ll take off all my blues” but for years I thought it said “I’ll take off all my clothes”.

Of course, the dress is blue that she changes into… Nah, I’m totally reading too much into it.

Maybe that’s part of why I like this movie. It just feels adult. And not in the way that some movies try to be where they use a lot really dumb innuendoes that actually make it more childish (The Cat in the Hat I’m looking at you).

 If this movie were being made today, I can just envision some dumbass white yuppie demanding “No no no, you simply mustn’t have them go to a bar! It will make them go to bars when they’re older!” 

To quote a genius of our time, Lenny Bruce:

“Knowledge of syphilis is not an instruction to get it”.

Now where was I?

Oh yeah, Mancini. So the score and songs for this movie are both incredible. The main theme that plays over the opening credits feels every bit as epic as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Jurassic Park ever has to me.

Likewise, the songs are catchy and upbeat, the kind you can’t get out of your head for a few hours after you hear them. Which is weird considering there’s really only three: The aforementioned World’s Greatest Criminal Mind and Let me be good to you, and also the song Ratigan recorded for Basil to listen to as he awaits his death.

World’s Greatest Criminal Mind is the only one that feels, broadway-esque, if you will. The others make more sense, one taking place in a bar, the other… recorded by an insane person. To that end I’m not sure if this movie counts as a musical or not. I guess it belongs more with Aristocats where the songs aren’t leaned on too heavily to advance the plot.