The Great Mouse

I hadn’t worked at Disney Animation for a number of years. Luckily, I managed to score an invitation to the crew screening and wrap party for the film. The movie was “The Great Mouse Detective” and it was an impressive first effort by what was largely a brand new Disney animation team. The Walt Disney Studio had just undergone massive changes and a new management had been put in place. After the disaster called “The Black Cauldron” one could only wonder if there was any hope for the future of animated films at the Walt Disney Studio.

I was lucky enough to wrangle a ticket to the screening and even met film boss, Jeffrey Katzenberg at the most unlikely of places. The sign post where Mickey Avenue and Dopey Drive intersect turned out to be our meeting place and the new film chairman seemed like a pretty nice guy. Unlike most Disney films, I had not seen one frame of film from this new Disney movie so this screening was truly a first time for me. After the movie ended and the credits rolled, I couldn’t wait to get back to my old pal, producer, Burny Mattinson. Since the wrap party was being held on the Walt Disney Studio lot it was easy to track down the man who had seen this project through to completion. Burny and his wife, Sylvia were seated at a table on a grassy area right outside of D-Wing. “Burny!” I gushed. “Your film was a lot of fun. I loved every minute of it. Looks like there’s hope for Disney animation after all.” I meant what I said that evening. “The Great Mouse Detective” restored my faith in Disney animation and despite its unfortunate title change, the film showed me the new kids had what it took to jump start Disney animation again. Of course, you know what happened next. Disney had a string of hit motion pictures such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” And, of course, it all began with this modest animation effort about a little mouse detective in London. The little animated feature film that would launch an animation juggernaut.

Basil of Baker Street. Disney decided that "The Great Mouse Detective" made a better title. Oh, well...

Basil of Baker Street. Disney decided that "The Great Mouse Detective" made a better title. Oh, well...