THE MOVIE FORMERLY KNOWN AS "BASIL OF BAKER STREET" @ 18 October 2012 06:29 PM
The Disney animated feature The Great Mouse Detective was originally called Basil of Baker Street, from the books by Eve Titus, but higher-ups at Disney (perhaps Jeffrey Katzenberg) wanted something more obvious. It prompted a humorous memo from Peter Scheider and the Animation Department, in which other Disney animated features were similarly renamed:

Seven Little Men Help a Girl
The Wooden Boy Who Became Real
Color and Music
The Wonderful Elephant Who Could Really Fly

The Little Deer Who Grew Up
The Girl With The See-Through Shoes
The Girl in the Imaginary Place
The Amazing Flying Children
Two Dogs Fall in Love
The Girl Who Seemed to Die
Puppies Taken Away
The Boy Who Would Be King
A Boy, A Bear and a Big Black Cat
Aristocats
Robin Hood with Animals
Two Mice Save a Girl
A Fox and a Hound Are Friends
The Evil Bonehead


Perhaps the only upside to the title change is that it inspired the memo.

Anyway, The Great Mouse Detective makes its third appearance on DVD, but first time in Blu-ray, with a two-disc set.



The film looks wonderful in Blu-ray (there is a literally clear difference) but the clarity also betrays some grain in the film. It also reveals the handmade nature of this cel-animated film, which is part of its charm. Even the historic Big Ben sequence, in which computers were used for the first time in a Disney feature, is hand inked and painted.

This is one of the Disney features that often gets overlooked in the vast catalog of classics, but it actually holds up well because it is so straightforward and unpretentious, like a lot of modern cel animation but more lush and fluid.

Much was made at the time of the film's release of the casting of legendary Vincent Price as the villainous Rattigan. It was not his first time voicing for animation; he was the voice of Irontail in the Rankin/Bass special, Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Later, he played a version of himself in the better-than-average 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo.

But Price's performance in The Great Mouse Detective is his most inspired for animation. He sings one of the few songs, and really gives Rattigan a range. This is not the ham-fisted caricature acting often associated with Price. While Rattigan is larger than life to be sure, Price adds nuance and frighteningly low-key moments as well as the truly terrifying climactic battle at the end.

If you're adding to your Blu-ray collection, you would do well to pick this up. But if you have the previous "Mystery in the Mist" edition, you already have everything on the DVD. And, if you have the original 2002 DVD, you have two extra cartoon shorts and a scrapbook.

Here is the breakdown:

2002 DVD BONUS FEATURES
 Making of the Great Mouse Detective
 World's Greatest Criminal Mind Sing along
 Cartoon: Clock Cleaners
 Cartoon: Donald's Crime
 Great Mouse Detective Scrapbook

2010 MYSTERY IN THE MIST BONUS FEATURES
 So You Think You Can Sleuth
 Making of the Great Mouse Detective
 World's Greatest Criminal Mind Sing along

2012 BLU-RAY AND DVD BOTH INCLUDE
 So You Think You Can Sleuth
 Making of the Great Mouse Detective
 World's Greatest Criminal Mind Sing along

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