The Great Mouse Detective (also known as The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective for its 1992 theatrical re-release and Basil the Great Mouse Detective in some countries) is the twenty-sixth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, and originally released to movie theaters on July 2, 1986 by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. The film was directed by Burny Mattinson, David Michener, and the team of John Musker and Ron Clements, who later directed Disney's hit films The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.


Based on the children's story Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, it draws heavily on the tradition of Sherlock Holmes with a heroic mouse who consciously emulates the detective; Titus named the main character after actor Basil Rathbone, who is best remembered for playing Holmes in film (and whose voice, sampled from the Red-Headed League, was the voice of Holmes in this film, 19 years after his death). The main characters are all mice and rats living in London.The layouts were done on computers, and video cameras made a digital version of pencil testing possible, which helped speeding up the production. The movie is also notable for its early use of computer generated imagery (CGI): for a chase scene that takes place in the interior of Big Ben. The movements of the clock's gears were produced as wire-frame graphics on a computer, printed out and traced onto animation cels where colors were added, and the characters were then animated by hand over these cels and the characters' completed cels placed on top of them. The Great Mouse Detective is sometimes cited as the first animated film from Disney to use CGI, but 1985's The Black Cauldron has this distinction.This film succeeded at the box office and got many positive reviews from critics (especially a "two thumbs up" from popular critics Siskel and Ebert), a welcome change after the previous Disney flop The Black Cauldron. Its inexpensive success after its predecessor's failure gave the new management of Disney confidence in the viability of their animation department. This led to the creation of The Little Mermaid, released three years later, which signaled a renaissance for Walt Disney Productions. Although it is actually one of the most underrated and darkest films of Disney, Great Mouse Detective is regarded as a cult classic.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

The year is 1897, and young Olivia Flaversham is celebrating her birthday with her toymaker father, Hiram. Suddenly, a bat with a broken wing and pegged leg bursts into the Flaversham's house, kidnapping Hiram. Olivia searches to find the famed detective Basil Of Baker Street, but gets lost. A surgeon, named Dr. Dawson stumbles upon Olivia and helps her find the Great Mouse Detective. Upon their arrival at his residence, Basil dismisses Olivia at first, saying he has more important matters to worry about. However, once Olivia mentions the crippled bat, Basil's attitude quickly changes. He explains that Olivia saw Fidget the bat, a henchman of Professor Ratigan, a villain Basil had been trying to arrest for years. Basil agrees to take the case when Fidget appears attempting to kidnap Olivia. He is chased away by Basil and Dawson who then use the dog Toby to track his scent to a nearby toy store.

Ratigan himself, an egocentric, power-hungry renegade scholar, has brought Flaversham to his Center of Operation for a purpose; that purpose being the creation of a robot which mimicks the Mouse Queen. With the real Queen dead in secret, Ratigan could rule the Mice of England, while the robot verbally supported everything he did. Flaversham refuses, whereapon Ratigan orders Fidget to capture Olivia and hold her a prisoner. If Mr. Flaversham refuses to complete the dupe, Olivia will be fed to Felicia, Ratigan's spoiled tame Cat.

Fidget is surprised by Basil, Dawson, and Olivia in the toyshop where he is stealing clockwork mechanisms, toy soldiers' uniforms, and tinker's tools for Ratigan's plan. He hides and later traps Olivia by ambushing her from inside a toy cradle. Basil pursues Fidget, but becomes entangled in some toys and falls behind.

While searching the shop, Dawson discovers Fidget's checklist, which entails everything Fidget has taken with him. In his hurry, the bat has let it fall. Basil and Dawson return to Baker Street, where Basil discovers by means of close examination and some chemical tests that the list was written in the Thames waterfront.

Meanwhile, Ratigan receives what Fidget has brought. Olivia and her father are briefly and tearfully re-united, only to be taken apart again when Ratigan orders Olivia held hostage. Ratigan discovers that Fidget has lost the list; knowing that any detective of Basil's calibre might track its writer, he sentences Fidget to death.

While Fidget is struggling to escape Felicia, Ratigan has an idea of what he will do to outwit Basil. He pardons Fidget and sets about preparing.

Basil and Dawson are in a tavern near the Thames, disguised as ne'er-do-well sailors inquiring for Ratigan. When Fidget stumbles through the pub, Basil decides to follow him, but is momentarily distracted by a fight that has broken out between the staff of the tavern and its customers. Dawson is a little drunk on the local brew, as well as all too pleased by the indiscrete dancers on stage; it takes Basil some effort to remind him of their mission.

The two follow Fidget through some pipes to Ratigan's headquarters, only to discover that Ratigan has prepared for their coming. The sadistic rat ties them to a spring-loaded mousetrap, which when activated will break both of their necks. Around them are arranged a pistol, a crossbow, an axe, and an anvil. Nearby is a gramophone. When the record set on it finishes playing, a metal ball will slide down a chute and activate the mousetrap spring. This will set off the gun and the crossbow, which will themselves set off the axe and anvil. A camera will then make a picture of the ending scene.

Ratigan, hinting that he has an engagement at Buckingham Palace, sets off in a dirigible. Basil is altogether crushed by his own failure to see through the trap; he lies bound, feeling sorry for himself, while Ratigan's teasing song plays about his ears.

Dawson is most shocked and annoyed at his friend's indifference to their plight and that of the Queen. He indignantly exclaims to the effect that if Basil has given up, why not set the killing machine off before the music is over, rather than wait?

This gives Basil an idea; because the trap is set on a delicate balance, setting it off seconds before it is meant to begin will cause it to malfunction. To that end, the two mice release the bone-breaking spring at the moment when the metal ball is between their heads. The ball stops the spring in mid-fall, which causes the hinges to break. The hinge tips the gun off balance, wherapon it shoots, sending the crossbow's shot awry. The arrow cuts the axehead off; the axehead falls between the prisoners, cutting them free. They evade the anvil, free Olivia, and pose for the camera.

Ratigan is putting his plan into action. Hidden behind a curtain, Flaversham operates the toy Queen, while its model is being taken by Fidget to Felicia. At the appropriate moment, Ratigan advances into plain sight, clad in the robes of a King. He at once thanks his Queen-figure, then proceeds to recite a long list of proposed insanely tyrannical legal reforms.

Not far away, Basil's friend the dog Toby (based on a tracker from the novel "The Sign of Four") chases Felicia to her ruin. Basil, Dawson, and Olivia seize control of the mechanical mouse, forcing it to denounce Ratigan as an impostor and also to shake itself to pieces before the assembled crowd's very eyes. Seeing this, the crowd fall on Ratigan, who in spite of them snatches Olivia and flees with Basil, Dawson, and Flaversham in pursuit.

On the way, Fidget, who is driving Ratigan's airship, becomes tired and suggests that they throw Olivia overboard in order to lighten the load. However, Ratigan, not about to throw away his hostage, throws Fidget overboard instead. The bat falls into the water and is never seen again.

Ratigan assumes the driving, but without a helmsman he cannot steer, and winds up crashing into Big Ben. Basil, who has attempted to board his foe's craft, is sent in with them.

Inside the clock, the two adversaries vie for possession of Olivia. Basil wins, and delivers the child to her father. Ratigan has lost his temper, and is now losing all pretence or semblance of civilization; he becomes ragged and savage as he pursues Basil, finally transforming from a pompous pseudo-gentleman into a huge, terrifying monster. With his tattered cape, startling agility, and overwhelming girth, he now resembles a maddened demon from a story-teller's nightmare.

Ratigan's only interest is killing Basil; he almost succeeds, but is thwarted when Basil distracts the rat just long enough to keep him from bracing himself when Big Ben rings behind them. The echoes shake Ratigan from his perch on the clock's hands, and he falls, catching hold of Basil and dragging him down (reminiscent of "The Final Problem", a story in which Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty fight to the death on Reichenbach Falls). Basil keeps hold of the dirigible's severed propeller, however, and uses it to escape.

Later, Olivia and her father depart, promising ever to remember their friends. Dawson is also willing to leave, but Basil tricks him into remaining by introducing the surgeon to a distraught newcomer as "my trusty associate, Doctor Dawson, with whom I do all my cases".

According to Dawson himself, this is true, by all means. They remain partners thereafter.

Main characters

  • Basil of Baker Street - The great detective himself, based on the beloved imaginary sleuth Sherlock Holmes. His main goal is to get Professor Ratigan behind bars and rescue Olivia Flaversham's father while simultaneously preventing a royal assassination. There are a few differences between Basil in the book series and in the film version, such as mercurial moods in the latter. He also plays the violin rather well in the movie, whereas the book series stated Basil's violin playing was atrocious—instead, Basil played the flute.
  • Professor Ratigan - Basil archenemy. Based on Professor James Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories, this character plots to seize control of the British monarchy. He and Basil have a long-established adversarial relationship. In the book series, it is revealed his given name is Padraic and that Ratigan is in fact, a mouse. This could be the reason why Ratigan in the movie (who is a rat; hence he has five fingers while the other mice have four fingers) takes offense from being referred to as a rat.
  • Dr. David Q. Dawson - Previously of the Queen's 66th Regiment in Afghanistan. His character is based upon Dr. John H. Watson from the Sherlock Holmes stories. The interaction between him and Basil mimics that of Watson and Holmes, as Dawson is constantly is amazed by Basil's deductions. He eventually becomes Basil's associate, friend, and personal biographer. In the film, the animators modeled the character after Nigel Bruce in both appearance and character. As a result, Dawson is essentially a fat bumbler who is redeemed by his good heart.
  • Olivia Flaversham - A small girl mouse of Scottish descent who seeks Basil's help in finding her toymaker father. Basil carelessly mangles her surname several times when speaking to her, and gets the surname correct only once when speaking to Olivia, Hiram. Her surname is most likely based on Flora and Fauna Flaversham from the Basil of Baker Street book series.
  • Fidget - Ratigan's henchman. He tends to do the dirty work for his boss. He has a crippled wing and a peg leg, and as a result he cannot fly properly. Ratigan throws him off the side of his flying machine near the end of the film, and he lands in the Thames.
  • Hiram Flaversham - Olivia's father. He works as a toymaker and is kidnapped by Ratigan to make the Queen Mousetoria robot.
  • Toby - Basil's loyal basset hound. He technically belongs to who lives above Basil, Toby is owned by a Mr. Sherman, a "bird-stuffer" and owner of a menagerie who willingly lends him to Holmes whenever requested.
  • Felicia - Ratigan's large and pompous pet cat. Ratigan calls upon her by ringing a specialbell, She is chased by Toby and eaten by Royal Guard Dogs during the climax of the film.

The Great Mouse Detective theatrical release history

  • July 2, 1986 (original release)
  • February 14, 1992 (re-release)

English voice cast

  • Barrie Ingham - Basil Of Baker Street / Bartholomew
  • Val Bettin - Dr. David Q. Dawson / Thug 4
  • Vincent Price - Professor Ratigan
  • Candy Candido - Fidget the Bat
  • Alan Young - Hiram Flaversham
  • Susanne Pollatschek - Olivia Flaversham
  • Diana Chesney - Mrs. Judson
  • Eve Brenner - The Mouse Queen (alias Queen Mousetoria)
  • Shani Wallis - Lady Mouse
  • Ellen Fitzhugh - Bar Maid
  • Basil Rathbone (recording from Red-Headed League) - Sherlock Holmes
  • Laurie Main -Dr. John H. Watson
  • Walker Edmiston - Citizen/Thug Guard
  • Wayne Allwine - Thug Guard
  • Tony Anselmo - Thug Guard


  • Candy Candido - Bar Patron
  • Charles Fleischer - Various Voices
  • Melissa Manchester - "Miss Kitty" (The Rat Trap showgirl)
  • Frank Welker - Toby/Felicia/Royal Guard Dogs


  • Basil Mus - Jess Ingerslev
  • Doktor Hotson - Poul Bundgaard
  • Professor Rottigan - Peter Schrøder
  • Flakse - Claus Ryskjær
  • Hiram Jeronimus - Henning Palner
  • Olivia - Kristine Nørgaard Sørensen
  • Dronning Musoria - Lillian Tillegreen
  • Fru Husmus - Lillian Tillegreen
  • Makarotte - Jesper Klein
  • Servitrice - Kirsten Hansen-Møller
  • Sangerinde - Susanne Breuning

Supervising animators

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations from or about:

See also

  • List of Movies

External links