The studio takes a bit of a darker turn with its next few films. Based on a series of books by Margery Sharp, The Rescuers centres on mice Bernard and Miss Bianca, members of the international Rescue Aid Society and voiced by legends Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor, and their mission to rescue orphan Penny from the evil, diamond-hungry Madame Medusa. The tale is a return to the heartstring-pulling dramas, like Bambi and Dumbo, that gave the studio its reputation.
With The Rescuers, we see Don Bluth’s biggest contribution to Disney during his time at the studio. The film is Bluth’s only as directing animator, and he was working along such legends as Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston for the last time. While a great blend of old and new talent, a real passing-of-the-torch moment, Bluth’s artistic influence on this film is undeniable. One need only follow up this film with one of Bluth’s famous solo efforts, like The Secret of NIMH or An American Tail to see the similarities. Medusa’s Devil’s Bayou riverboat even bears resemblance to Charlie’s casino in All Dogs Go To Heaven.