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The Great Mouse Detective
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Ron Clements
  • Burny Mattinson
  • Dave Michener
  • John Musker
Produced by Burny Mattinson
Story by
  • Pete Young
  • Vance Gerry
  • Steve Hulett
  • John Musker
  • Ron Clements
  • Bruce Morris
  • Matthew O'Callaghan
  • Burny Mattinson
  • Dave Michener
  • Mel Shaw
Music by Henry Mancini
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date(s) July 2, 1986 (1986-07-02)
Running time 74 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million
Money made $38.7 million

The Great Mouse Detective is a 1986 American animated mystery film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 26th Disney animated feature film, the film was directed by Burny Mattinson, David Michener, and the team of John Musker and Ron Clements, who later directed The Little Mermaid (1989) and Aladdin (1992). The film was 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. The main characters are all mice and rats living in Victorian London.

Based on the children's book series 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 a 1966 reading of "The Red-Headed League" was the voice of Holmes in this film, 19 years after his death). Sherlock Holmes also mentions "Basil" as one of his aliases in the Arthur Conan Doyle story "The Adventure of Black Peter".

The Great Mouse Detective was released to theaters on July 2, 1986 to positive reviews and financial success, in sharp contrast to the box office under-performance of Disney's previous animated feature film The Black Cauldron (1985). As such, the new senior management of the company were convinced that their animation department was still a viable enterprise and this set the stage for the Disney Renaissance.


In London in June 1897, a young mouse named Olivia Flaversham is celebrating her birthday with her toymaker father, Hiram. Suddenly, a bat with a crippled wing and a peg leg bursts into the Flaversham's workshop, kidnapping Hiram. Olivia searches to find the famed Great Mouse Detective named Basil of Baker Street, but gets lost. A surgeon named Dr. David Q. Dawson, who has just returned from a lengthy service of the Mouse Queen's 66th Regiment in Afghanistan, meets Olivia, and escorts her to Basil's residence. Upon their arrival, Basil is initially indifferent, but when Olivia mentions the peg-legged bat that kidnapped her father, Basil realizes that Olivia saw Fidget, a henchman of Professor Ratigan, a villain that Basil has attempted to arrest for years. It is then revealed that Ratigan kidnapped Hiram to create a clockwork robot, which mimics the Queen of the Mice so that Ratigan can rule England. Hiram initially refuses to participate in the scheme, but capitulates when Ratigan threatens to harm Olivia. Ratigan then announces his plans to kill the Queen and become "supreme ruler of all mousedom" to his henchmen.

Meanwhile, Fidget appears through the window, and they give chase. Basil, along with Dawson and Olivia, take Toby, Sherlock Holmes's pet Basset Hound, to track down Fidget's scent, where they locate him in a toyshop stealing clockwork mechanisms and toy soldiers' uniforms. Fidget ambushes Olivia and kidnaps her. Basil and Dawson pursue Fidget, but become entangled and fall behind. While searching the shop, Dawson discovers Fidget's checklist, to which Basil does some chemical tests to discover the list came from a riverfront near the Thames. Basil and Dawson disguise themselves as sailors and head to a tavern called the "Rat Trap". They find Fidget and follow him to Ratigan's headquarters, but they're caught in an ambush by Ratigan. Ratigan has them tied to a spring-loaded mousetrap connected with a Rube Goldberg machine laid out to kill them both. Ratigan sets out for Buckingham Palace, where his henchman kidnap the queen. Basil deduces the trap's weakness and escapes along with Dawson and Olivia just in time.

At Buckingham Palace, Ratigan forces Hiram to operate the toy Queen, while the real one is taken to be fed to Felicia, Ratigan's pet cat. The toy Queen declares Ratigan the ruler of all Mousedom, and he announces his tyrannical plans for his new "subjects". After Basil, Dawson, and Olivia save Hiram and the real Queen, they restrain Fidget and Ratigan's other henchmen. Basil seizes control of the mechanical queen, making it denounce Ratigan as a fraud and tyrant while breaking it into pieces. The crowd, enraged by Ratigan's treason, turns on him, and he escapes on his dirigible with Fidget, holding Olivia hostage. Basil, Dawson, and Hiram create their own craft with a matchbox and some small helium-filled balloons, held together by the Union Jack. Ratigan tosses Fidget overboard to lighten the load, and he attempts to drive the dirigible himself. Basil jumps onto the dirigible to confront Ratigan, causing it to crash straight into the Big Ben clocktower.

Inside the clocktower, Basil manages to get Ratigan's cape stuck on some gears. He rescues Olivia and safely delivers her to Hiram. Ratigan breaks free and attacks Basil, eventually knocking him to the dirigible. When the clock strikes 10:00, the bell hits for the loudest sound, and Ratigan falls to his death, taking Basil with him. However, Basil grabs a part of Ratigan's dirigible and saves himself. Back at Baker Street, Basil and Dawson recount their adventures. After the Flavershams leave the house, a distraught new client arrives and solicits Basil and Dawson's help, with Basil noting that Dawson is his trusted associate, prompting Dawson to remain and assist Basil.

Voice cast

  • Barrie Ingham as Basil, a detective, based on the fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes. His main goal is to arrest Professor Ratigan 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 mood swings in the latter. He also plays the violin quite well in the film, whereas the book series stated Basil's violin playing was atrocious—instead, Basil played the flute.
  • Vincent Price as Professor Ratigan, Basil's nemesis. He is based on Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories. He plots to seize control of the British monarchy. He and Basil are long-established arch-enemies. In the book series, his given name is Padraic and he is a mouse; in the film he denies that he is a rat. At the end of the film, he falls off Big Ben and disappears into the fog below, following a savage battle with Basil, similar to the Sherlock Homes story "The Final Problem".
  • Val Bettin as Major 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 amazed by Basil's quick-witted deductions. He eventually becomes Basil's associate, friend, and personal biographer. Dawson also serves as the film's narrator.
  • Susanne Pollatschek as Olivia Flaversham, An eight-year-old female mouse of Scottish descent who seeks Basil's help in finding her toymaker father.
  • Candy Candido as Fidget, Ratigan's bumbling bat right-hand 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. Ratigan throws him off the side of his flying machine near the end of the film, and he falls into the Thames. He survives the fall in the book (how is not explained). Candido also voices a reprobate in the pub.
  • Frank Welker as Toby, Basil's loyal basset hound. He technically belongs to Sherlock Holmes, who lives above Basil. (In the Sherlock Holmes canon, Toby (who is not a basset but "half spaniel and half lurcher") is owned by a Mr. Sherman, a "bird-stuffer" and owner of a menagerie, who willingly lends him to Holmes whenever requested.)
  • Alan Young as Hiram Flaversham, Olivia's affectionate Scottish father. He works as a toymaker, and is kidnapped by Fidget to make the Queen Mousetoria robot for the evil Ratigan.
  • Frank Welker as Felicia, Ratigan's large and pompous pet cat. Ratigan calls upon her by ringing a special bell to dispose of traitors or anyone who makes him angry. She is chased by Toby, only to be mauled by Royal Guard Dogs during the climax of the film.
  • Diana Chesney as Mrs. Judson, Basil's housekeeper. She adores Basil, but gets very annoyed when he mistreats her good pillows by shooting them with a pistol. She is based on Mrs. Hudson.
  • Eve Brenner as Queen Mousetoria, the mouse queen of England, whom Ratigan attempts to depose of. She is a parody of Queen Victoria and the setting for this film coincides with the real Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (as can be seen with humans entering Buckingham Palace at the same time the mice are).
  • Melissa Manchester (uncredited) as Miss Kitty Mouse, a singer at a seedy tavern called The Rat Trap.
  • Barrie Ingham as Bartholomew, one of Ratigan's henchmen. He meets his demise early on during Ratigan's song when he drunkenly calls his boss a rat; enraged, Ratigan throws him outside and summons Felicia, who devours him.
  • Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, the famous human detective who lives above Basil. His voice is taken from The 1966 Caedmon Records recording of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Red-Headed League".
  • Laurie Main as Dr. Watson, the medical associate/partner of Sherlock Holmes, who also lives above Basil. Unlike Rathbone, voice samples of Nigel Bruce were not used for the voice of Watson.
  • Wayne Allwine, Tony Anselmo, Walker Edmiston and Val Bettin as the Thug Guards
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