CHAPTER TWELVE – “Basil” Kicks Into High Gear
When the Disney strike of 1982 ended and the story artists returned to their respective work spaces in the animation building, “Basil of Baker Street” was still running along two sets of tracks. There were storyboards filled with gags and character bits, and boards filled with plot points.
In the crew’s absence, director John Musker had pinned a lot of witty drawings with the lead characters to various cork boards, and Vance Gerry snuck away from “The Black Cauldron” to look at everything that had been done. He appreciated all the sight gags, but suggested we concentrate on pulling the story together and leave the jokes until later. (Chief Executive Officer Ron Miller came down from his corner office for a meeting and voiced the same sentiment.)
So getting continuity up start to finish was what we concentrated on. Eve Titus’s book had a few scenes we could use (most of which were later dropped), but mostly we invented new plot. Since the lead was a 19th century sleuthing mouse, we needed a sufficiently colorful crime for him to investigate. We racked our brains over what that crime might be, and how it would unfold. We settled on a toy-making mouse getting kidnapped by sinister forces, and unspooled the story from there. (This wasn’t a plot device that everyone was crazy about: “Hey! Didn’t ‘The Rescuers’ ALSO have a kidnapping? And Mice?! Why are we doing the kidnapping thing AGAIN?”) ...
You can read the balance of the chapter here.
Basil of Baker Street"/ The Great Mouse Detective was the most satisfying Disney feature on which I worked. Not only was Burny Mattinson a terrific producer, but the story crew and directors were all pleasures to work with. And the picture was entertaining.
The Great Mouse Detective had a lot of firsts riding on it. It was the first animated feature that Jeffrey Katzenberg worked on in a major way (The Black Cauldron being mostly done when he arrived at the studio.)
It was the first animated feature on which Ron Clements and John Musker received directing credits.
It was the first feature with extensive computer effects.
Great Mouse wasn't a huge money spinner, but it's fondly remembered. After its release, the feature received an Edgar nomination for "Best Mystery Movie." (Shockingly, it didn't win. Even with Sherlock Holmes in it.)