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Dawson: Oh, how very thrilling, eh, Basil? Basil: All in a day's work, Doctor.
Basil, The Great Mouse Detective in the UK. Released in 1992 as The Adventures of the Great Mouse Detective.A 1986 Disney Animated Canon masterpiece (Number 26) with no Medieval European Fantasy setting, no True Love's Kiss, and no princesses (although there is a mouse version of Queen Victoria...) More importantly, the reasonable success of this film after The Black Cauldron debacle was able to convince the new senior management of Walt Disney Pictures that their animation department had a future after all.This Animated Adaptation of Basil of Baker Street, a series of children's books by Eve Titus, tells a story of Sherlock Holmes in a Mouse World. When toymaker and mechanical genius Hiram Flaversham is kidnapped, his daughter Olivia hires the greatest detective in all mousedom, Basil of Baker Street, to find him. On her way, she is found by the Narrator and Dr. Watson's Captain Ersatz, Dr. Dawson, just back in London after serving overseas in the military. Basil is reluctant to take the case until he realizes the bat who kidnapped Olivia's father works for his Arch-Enemy, the Diabolical Mastermind Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price).With the help of his trained hound, Toby, Basil tracks the bat to a human toy shop, but he escapes and kidnaps Olivia. Ratigan uses her to force her father to complete a robot duplicate of the mouse queen as part of his Evil Plan to take over the kingdom. After learning Basil is on the case, the Evil Genius decides to use this as an opportunity to humiliate and defeat his rival once and for all. Basil falls for his trap hook, line, and sinker and, with some encouragement from Dawson, narrowly escapes the Death Trap in enough time to save the queen and engage Ratigan in a Chase Scene by air that culminates in a gruesome Monumental Battle at Big Ben.
This film provides examples of:
Accidental Misnaming: Basil constantly gets Olivia's surname wrong. Funnily enough, the one time he does get it right is when he's addressing her father.
Adorkable: Could briefly be used to describe Basil, of all people, after Olivia's My Parents Are Dead moment. He gets very awkward and tongue-tied before snapping back to his usual self.
Again with Basil when we first meet Toby.
Also the scene where he's awkwardly trying to cheer up Dawson. "I say...Dawson, old chap?" with a nervous smile.
Adult Fear: Ratigan arranges to have Olivia kidnapped, and threatens to have her fed to his Right-Hand Cat unless her father cooperates with his demands.
Agony of the Feet: Olivia stomps on Fidget's foot while he's restraining her. (Made worse by the fact that he only has one foot.)
Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Professor Ratigan congratulates himself on his outstanding villainy and celebrates with his minions. One of them, Bartholomew, gets so drunk that he unwittingly calls his master a rat (which he is), Ratigan's Berserk Button. He takes Bartholomew with him and serves him up to his pet cat for lunch all while Bart is completely oblivious to this and still singing Ratigan's praises.
All There in the Script: Books, actually. The original book series reveals that not only was Ratigan originally a mouse, but also that his first name is Padraic.
Miss Kitty's name isn't brought up anywhere in the film, but it can be seen on her character model sheet.
Always Night. Averted, as the majority of the film (or possibly entire—that last scene is dubious) happens within just a few hours (June 20th-21st 1897, to be precise). Likely the film takes place, at least within two nights, if Ratigan's comment, "We will have our little device ready by tomorrow evening, won't we?" is any indication.
This is established right at the beginning where Basil is able to figure out Dawson's profession and where he came from in less then 3 lines of shared dialogue!
Badass: Say whatever you want about Ratigan, but taming a cat and making it into your minion is pretty cool. Especially if you're a rat... I meant, mouse. Same goes for Basil who managed to befriend a dog.
When Basil tries to press his button by calling him a rat, Ratigan freezes, spawns Technically a Smile, informs him that he would have stuck around to watch his death but Basil was late, and walks away cheerfully.
Big Friendly Dog: Toby. The emphasis here is on big, since the main characters are mice.
Big "NO!": Basil, when discovering that the two bullets don't match.
Big "Shut Up!": Ratigan, after Olivia starts to bad mouth him when he's escaping.
Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: The idea behind the ballistics test is presented fairly well, but the experiment conducted to determine a match has a fatal flaw. Basil holds the ends of the bullets together, and most of the grooves etched into the bullets by the rifling match, except for few. The problem is, if you turn the bullets around in your head so they're side-by-side as opposed to end-to-end, one would be a mirror image of the other! Thus, a cursory glance at them would be all you need to see that they don't match. If Ratigan knew Basil would make such a stupid mistake when comparing the bullets, this could be a case of Fridge Brilliance, as it implies almost impossibly good foresight.
Boomerang Bigot: Ratigan appears to despise rats despite being one himself, and calling him a rat is a surefire way to get yourself killed.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Justified. Ratigan does build a giant death trap that he leaves our heroes in. However, it is explained that he wanted to stay and watch it, but as the heroes arrived 15 minutes later than he planned, he doesn't have the time to stay. So he rigs a camera to capture Basil's dying moment instead.
Brick Joke: Right before leaving for Buckingham Palace, Ratigan tells a soon-to-be-dead Basil "Now, you will remember to smile for the camera, won't you?" as he activates his deadly Rube Goldberg contraption which is set to take a picture at the exact moment Basil and Dawson are to die.
...A few scenes later, after Basil's last-minute ingenuity very narrowly lets them escape the trap, he grabs hold of Dawson, catches Olivia and says "Smile, everyone!" as the picture of the three is successfully taken.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Basil is an undeniable genius who, when we first meet him, comes off as quite possibly insane.
Butt Monkey: Ratigan has a tendency to treat Fidget this way.
Call Back: Ratigan tells Basil to be sure to smile for the camera which will take a pic of him being offed by the Death Trap. After Basil manages to foil the trap:
Basil: Smile, everyone! (click!)
The Cameo: Sherlock Holmes himself appears three times in silhouette. In the books, Basil actually lives under Holmes' floor. From his and Watson's dialogue, Holmes is apparently solving the case of the Red-Headed League. And the dialogue is performed by? Basil Rathbone.
Dumbo appears as a bubble-blowing toy in the toy shop that Basil and Dr. Dawson go to.
Clock Punk: The robot double of Queen Mousetoria that Flaversham makes for Ratigan.
Clock Tower: The Westminster Clock Tower, home of Big Ben, is the location for the final showdown.
Conspicuous CG: One of the first uses of CGI (after The Black Cauldron) in an animated feature, traced from wire-frame graphics onto animation cels and certainly a far more conspicuous user than its predecessor—where The Black Cauldron mostly limited CGI to special effects and stuff (i.e. glittering stars, chroma-keying smoke into the scenes, etc.), The Great Mouse Detective made extensive and notable use of it in the interior of Big Ben. Very impressive stuff for its time.
Conspicuously Light Patch: Averted in a scene where Basil and Dawson are crawling up some pipes to Ratigan's sewer hideout. One of them bangs their head against a pipe cap after taking a wrong turn, and despite being painted like the rest of the background, the cap rattles.
Played straight in the scene with the tea-making robot. The cup is noticeably lighter than the saucer before the robot picks it up.
Creepy Doll: The dolls in the human toyshop are a little unnerving even before they're smashed apart in the scuffle.
Cue Card: Mr. Flaversham is forced to read off cue cards while operating the Queen Mousetoria robot.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The final battle shows that Basil doesn't have any opportunity against Ratigan in a one-on-one wrestle, with Ratigan being several times his size and built like a tank. A good thing that this is a genius battle.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: When Ratigan learns that Basil is on the case, he realizes that it is inevitable that the great detective will track him to his lair, so he sets a trap for him there. He also sets up a decoy trap in the bar that fronts his hideout so that Basil will easily avoid it and be lulled into a false sense of security.
Distracted by the Sexy: It's quite easy to miss, but Fidget gets his leg stuck in the floor because he is watching the dancers in the bar scene.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: One hundred percent unintentional, but there's a moment where Basil points to a small circular hole in a pane of glass and calls it "our friend's point of entrance" while sticking Dawson's finger into it. He then shows how if you pull, the glass operates like a door, but still.
Dawson: Dash it all, Basil! The queen's in danger, Olivia's counting on us, we're about to be horribly splattered, and all you can do is lie there feeling sorry for yourself!
Establishing Character Moment: Basil doesn't appear at all for the first ten minutes or so of the film, letting the plot be established without him. When Dawson and Olivia are at Basil's flat waiting for his return, the movie (and the audience) is completely thrown off by the abrupt entrance of an insane-looking Chinese mouse, brandishing a revolver and screaming "I shall have him!". No sooner do we adjust to this intrusion that we learn that the Chinese mouse is Basil, wearing a realistic mask and a fat suit. But even after this, Basil utterly ignores the entreaties of the heroes to obsessively test his theory on matching bullets, howling in anguish when he is proved wrong and slipping into a spell of depression. It is only after all this that Olivia is able to get a word in and set the plot into motion, but by now we already know that Basil is not your typical Disney hero.
Besides his Villain Song, Ratigan's debut establishes his character quite easily; while threatening Flaversham, he speaks very tenderly about what could happen to his daughter, gently holds the toy he made for her....and squeezes it until it breaks.
Face Palm: Basil during "Let Me Be Good To You" after Dawson starts making a fool of himself.
Faux Affably Evil: In song, Ratigan professes that he has planned his worst crime yet. His mooks gush "Even meaner? You mean it? Worse than the widows and orphans you drowned?" The thing is that his thugs asked the question with enthusiasm, and Ratigan was simply having fun the entire time.
Fluffy the Terrible: Felicia, a giant house cat that Ratigan flowers with affection and uses to dispatch his enemies as well as any incompetent lackey.
Furry Confusion: The movie has anthropomorphic mice, rats, bats, and lizards, but real cats, dogs, and horses, and humans as well.
Not so anthropomorphic, as Ratigan proves.
Genius Bruiser: Ratigan prefers to use his brain to solve his problems (if nothing else to preserve his image), but he is vastly stronger than any other small animal in the movie.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: For a G-rated movie, this movie has gotten away with a lot of PG and even a bit of PG-13 material. Someone must have been drunk-on-duty to let this into a kid's film.
The stripping mouse named Miss Kitty, with this line "Hey fellas/I'll take off all my blues!" Everything from her bow to her shoes is blue.
"Hey fellas, / There's nothin' I won't do, just for you!"
"So dream on, and drink your beer. Get cozy, your baby's here!" Basil also points out his drinks are drugged. The fact that half the bar is smoking seems to be the least of the worries during this scene.
"Boys, what you're hoping for will come true / Let me be good to you!"
Russian version of the song is even more straightforward, with lyrics like: "I want to be tender to you, I want to love y'all!"
Although he does slowly grow out of it, as seen when he tries to comfort Dawson. Granted, he doesn't actually apologise for his rant, but it's clear from the look on his face that he regrets being so harsh.
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Basil smokes a pipe while Ratigan smokes a cigarette (complete with long stemmed filter a la Cruella de Vil). When Basil disguises himself as a thug, he swaps out his pipe for a cigarette.
GPS Evidence: The brandy, coal dust, and salt water on Fidget's list.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: By the end, Basil manages to entice Dawson into staying by having him help with a new client, whom Basil immediately gives a Sherlock Scan, impressing Dawson yet again.
Heroic BSOD: Basil undergoes a near-fatal one after he falls for Ratigan's trap.
Dawson has a minor one after Olivia is kidnapped by Fidget.
Homage: "Elementary, my dear Dawson". The entire movie, really, especially one scene where the silhouettes of two men who are obviously Holmes and Watson are visible discussing a case. The Holmes expy even shares a name with probably the most famous actor who played Sherlock. (So would that make this a Holmsage?)
In fact, in The Adventure of Black Peter, Holmes mentions he's known as (Captain) Basil around the Sumner area, though that much is coincidence. There's also Toby the dog, whom Holmes used in The Sign of the Four.
I Am Not Weasel: The professor HATES being called a rat; he's actually a "big mouse".
Idiot Ball: Basil and Dr. Dawson grab it pretty hard in the toy store by not realizing that someone had to have set off all the toys' mechanisms and that they didn't just wind themselves up. Basil should have instantly realized that whoever turned them on must have done so to provide cover for himself, and Dawson messed up by just letting Olivia wander off by herself.
Ratigan's intelligence tends to drop considerably when he's very angry, causing him to act on impulse several times to his own detriment.
Infant Immortality: Partial aversion. Olivia doesn't die but she is put in life-threatening danger several times. Most notably she is almost crushed to death by the clock gears in Big Ben, saved literally at the last second by Basil. Ratigan also threatens to kill her unless they let him escape.
Insistent Terminology: "I AM NOT A RAT!" note Ratigan has five fingers on his hands, er, forepaws, while all the other real mice have four fingers. Not to mention his yellow eyes, sharp teeth and thicker tail. This is different from the books, where he actually is a mouse.
Kidnapped Scientist: Flaversham is a toymaker, but he qualifies. His skill with making mechanical toys had applications for chicanery that Ratigan made forcible use of.
Knighting: It's certainly implied by the picture in the newspaper article at the end.
Large Ham: Ratigan is one of Disney's largest. In fact, Vincent Price said that this was his favorite role, and that he had a lot of fun with it. What's more, he also professed to being "flattered" that all of Ratigan's songs were written specially for him so that he could act as over-the-top as possible.
Mr. Price was prone to making wild, over-the-top hand gestures and such while acting, which the animators worked into Ratigan's character as well.
There's also the incredibly expressive, hyperactive unless quite visibly depressed, always overdramatic Basil himself.
Barrie Ingham (Basil's voice actor) was also given to dramatic gesturing. The animators had lots of raw material to work with!
Basil's most notably hammy moments are:
"Young lady, you are most definitely not accompanying us! AND THAT IS FINAL !!!
"Set it off now. Set it...off...now? . (laughs madly) Yes, yes, we'll set the trap off NOW!!".
Last Name Basis: (Padraic) Ratigan, (David) Dawson, and (Hiram) Flaversham.
Leitmotif: Basil, Dawson and Olivia all have their own respective themes that frequently show up in the film's score: Basil's theme is also used as the main title music, Olivia's is also the tune her father's dancing music box mouse plays, and Dawson's theme prominently features a bassoon.
Ratigan has two themes; a solo clarinet and a dark french horn/bass combination.
Lucky Translation: Basil is called "Basil Holmuis" (hole-mouse) in Dutch. Yes, that's a real word.
The Italian title for the film is Basil l'investigatopo, a play on words with "investigatore" ("detective") and "topo" ("mouse").
Minion with an F in Evil: Dawson when in disguised as a ruthless shipmate, is still as polite as ever. Basil can't help but groan every time he does this.
My Parents Are Dead: Basil, depressed about failing to catch Ratigan yet again and playing the violin to console himself, dismisses Olivia's request that he find her father with, "Surely your mother knows where he is." Olivia responds, "I don't have a mother," and Basil's playing comes to a screeching halt.
The first meeting between Basil and Dawnson reflects the first meeting between Holmes and Watson in "A Study in Scarlet". In both cases Holmes/Basil calls his future partner a "Doctor" and explain how he deduced he was a Doctor and that he just came back from Afganistan.
Toby is Holmes's dog from the story "The Sign Of the Four".
Holmes is voiced by Basil Rathbone (who played Holmes in 14 movies!) and his lines are from the story "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League". Basil himself is named after Rathbone.
The final fight between Basil and Ratigan reflects the final fight between Holmes and Professor Moriarty in the story "The Final Problem".
When Dawson says (commenting on Basil's deduction skills) "It's amazing", Basil replies, "Actually it's... elementary, my dear Dawson", a reference to Holmes's so-called catchphrase.
Another Holmes catchphrase ""The game's afoot!" is used by Basil as well.
Ratigan's Voodoo Doll looks just like Basil in Paul Galdone's illustrations in the original "Basil of Baker Street" stories.
Not Good with People: Basil. He is downright rude towards Olivia and seems to be very very uncomfortable while trying to cheer up Dawson.
Nothing Personal: Implied by Ratigan towards Dawson; as he sets the Death Trap, he tells him, "Sorry chubby. You should have chosen your friends more carefully." (Or maybe he just decides to kill him For the Evulz.)
Which is particularly odd, considering that Basil clearly has much more convincing disguises at his disposal, such as the large Chinese mouse he was dressed as earlier in the film when he was introduced. Why he doesn't don another costume like that when going after someone who knows perfectly well what he looks like and will undoubtedly be able to see through a tiny stick-on mustache and a change of clothes is rather baffling, particularly for someone as smart as he is.
Basil: Most assuredly... you insidious fiend. You're not my Royal Consort! You're a cheap fraud and impostor. A corrupt, vicious, demented, scoundrel. There's no evil scheme you wouldn't concoct. No depravity you wouldn't commit. You, Professor, are none other than a foul stenchus rodentus, commonly known... (Basil pops out) as a sewer rat!
Also, Dawson gives a rather angry one to Basil while he's in the middle of his Heroic BSOD, which actually helps Basil, leading to his Eureka Moment detailed above.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: If Ratigan's body starts to quiver uncontrollably and his eyes become blood-red, START RUNNING FOR YOUR LIFE!
This is used as a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of foreshadowing early on in the film. When we are first introduced to Ratigan, after he has just completed his Villain Song, he turns to Fidget, asking if everything is going as planned. When Fidget nervously reveals that he accidentally led Basil onto their master plan, Ratigan momentarily flies into a blinding rage, his eyes glowing a deep, bloody red, going so far as to sic Felicia on Fidget. But once Ratigan realizes that he can use Basil's involvement to his advantage, his rage subsides, but the redness in his eyes lingers until the next scene.
She's Got Legs: Miss Kitty the bar singer has some of the most shapely, curvaceous legs ever animated.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Ratigan dumps his lackey Fidget (who provided most of the film's comic relief) out of his dirigible, into the Thames River. That's a big clue that things are about to get dark and intense. Cue Villainous Breakdown and Nightmare Fuel inside Big Ben.
Sissy Villain: Ratigan (before he turns into a psychotic, feral rat at the end) is quite possibly one of Disney's most cold-blooded villains... and yet he surrounds himself with pink and purple fabric, fashionable capes, and sings songs while being carried around by his hired boys.
Slipping a Mickey: Basil and Dawson are given drugged drinks sometime in the bar. Basil is Genre Savvy enough to test his drink first, but Dawson isn't so fortunate.
In general, this is what Ratigan is at his core. He just manages to hide it very well.
Staggered Zoom: Done on Ratigan right before he goes nuts during the Big Ben scene.
Steam Punk: The robotic Queen Victoria duplicate and its control system that Flaversham built out of cobbled-together gears and toy scraps commonly found in the 19th century, as well as Ratigan's favorite mode of aerial transportation, can only be explained as this.
Thunderous Confrontation: As the standard for Disney animated films, Basil and Ratigan's big fight on Big Ben near the end is accompanied by a strong thunderstorm, which clears up once Basil and Ratigan fall off the clock, and Basil survives thanks to using a piece of Ratigan's getaway blimp.
Title Drop: The last line of the film. The original title would have been "Basil of Baker Street", the name of the book series. Characters utter "Basil of Baker Street" quite frequently throughout the film, so if Executive Meddling hadn't changed the title, there would have been a lot of title drops!
Made even more frightening is the fact he was previously so Faux Affably Evil. It serves to show just how insane and feral his breakdown has left him, especially since he had, up to now, succeeded in keeping Olivia and her father separated from each other. When he sees Basil successfully reuniting them before his very eyes, this accelerates Ratigan's breakdown.
Worthy Opponent: Subverted. When Basil confronts Ratigan and starts speaking, it looks like he's invoking this trope, but it's actually the lead-in to an insult:
"Ratigan, no one can have a higher opinion of you than I have... and I think you're a slimy, contemptible sewer rat!"
Wretched Hive: The seedy pub. They DO serve Rodent's Delight, after all...
Writers Cannot Do Math: Really, Basil... just what is "the square root of an isosceles triangle", exactly? (Maybe Basil just is so much smarter than us that he knows how to calculate the square root of an isosceles triangle!)
You could also argue that he's thinking so fast that he's not verbalizing every step of his mental process, and there's some stuff in the middle that he just skips.
A real-life example could be famous mathemagician Arthur Benjamin as evidenced by this clip.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Ratigan and Basil are good at this. Ratigan when he realizes Basil is hot on his tail (no pun intended), and Basil when escaping Ratigan's trap.
You Can Leave Your Hat On: The Bad-Guy Bar has a burlesque performance (consisting of a juggling octopus and a trio of period-accurate strippers) for entertainment. You know, for kids.