Tag Archives: Vincent Price

The Great Mouse Detective “Goodbye, So Soon” (1986)


The Great Mouse Detective “Goodbye, So Soon” (Film Scene) (1986)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective is one of the most underrated Disney villains ever created. He’s so smug, so pompous, and at the same time so incredibly dangerous (see Disturbing Disney #17 for details), you wonder how anyone could possibly forget about him. It helps that Ratigan was brought to life by the legendary Vincent Price (that master of horror and villainous behavior). In fact, Ratigan is so smug that when he leaves Basil and Dawson in a trap meant to utterly destroy them (well, Basil in particular, Dawson is just collateral damage as far as Ratigan is concerned), he’s left a recording to serenade Basil in his final moments. This song is “Goodbye, So Soon.”

The Great Mouse Detective “Goodbye, So Soon” (Soundtrack version) (1986)

In the film itself you actually don’t hear a lot of this song because it’s covered over by dialogue and other sound effects, but it really is a neat little song. The gist is simple: Ratigan has enjoyed the challenge Basil has given him over the years, but now that he’s won and Basil has lost, it’s time to say goodbye and move on to the better things in life (like taking over the Mouse Kingdom).


The Great Mouse Detective Behind-the-Scenes

Goodbye so soon
And isn’t this a crime?
We know by now that time knows how to fly
So here’s goodbye so soon
You’ll find your separate way
With time so short I’ll say so long
And go
So soon

You followed me, I followed you
We were like each other’s shadows for a while
Now as you see, this game is through
So although it hurts, I’ll try to smile
As I say

Goodbye so soon
And isn’t this a crime?
We know by now that time knows how to fly
So here’s goodbye so soon
You’ll find your separate way
With time so short I’ll say so long
And go
So soon

In case you’re wondering, yes that is Vincent Price performing the song. In his last few years he often spoke of Ratigan as being one of his favorite roles (having wanted to play a Disney villain for some time). I’ve always found it funny that Ratigan took the time to record a song just for Basil and it speaks to just how long this plan has been in development. Of course, Ratigan leaving to enact the rest of his plan is ultimately what allows Basil to escape the trap (it’s a common failing in villains, leaving the hero in peril assuming their demise is a sure thing), but that’s a story for another day.

Let me know what you think about “Goodbye, So Soon” in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Great Mouse Detective “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” (1986)

The Great Mouse Detective “Let me be good to you” (1986)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

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As you’ve read through this series, you’ll note that many of these ‘disturbing’ moments come from the villains in the story and The Great Mouse Detective is no exception. Based on the Basil of Baker Street book series by Eve Titus, the film follows the titular Basil, a mouse detective who operates on the same deductive principles as Sherlock Holmes (and it just so happens Basil’s tiny home is located at 221B Baker Street).

His nemesis and obsession is the evil genius Ratigan (voiced brilliantly by Vincent Price). Ratigan is “the Napoleon of crime” with ambitions of taking over the mouse world. He himself is a giant rat, but he hates to be reminded of it, to the point that he will have his own henchmen killed if they refer to him as a rat.


The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan kidnaps Olivia/Big Ben Chase (1986)

For most of the film, Ratigan presents himself as a perfectly poised gentle-mouse, but there are hints that he’s hiding a big secret. For one, every time he gets the least bit upset, all of his henchmen quake in terror, as if expecting some monster to come out. Second, especially when Ratigan finds out that Basil is on the case of the missing toymaker, the rat is visibly seen holding back a wave of fierce anger (so much so that his face turns bright red), just barely managing to hold it back.


But the final straw comes when Basil ultimately ruins the villain’s plans to take over Mouse England. A furious Rattigan makes a run for it in his dirigible, with the young Olivia (the toymaker’s daughter) as a hostage. Basil gives chase however in a hastily rigged craft of his own (aided by Dawson and Olivia’s father) and they chase Rattigan all over London before the rat, distracted by Basil jumping aboard, crashes headlong into the clock face of Big Ben!


The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan becomes a rat/Big Ben Fight (1986)

Deep inside the clockworks and gears, Rattigan seeks to eliminate Basil once and for all (and at least be rid of his nemesis even if his plans are ruined), but Olivia foils this by biting down on his hand, distracting him long enough for Basil to trap his cape in some gears before leaping down to rescue Olivia (who was kicked into the works by Rattigan) from being crushed. Basil saves the young mouse just in the nick of time and when the trapped Rattigan sees the pair getting away…his anger finally boils over, leading into one of the more disturbing sequences in the pre-Disney Renaissance canon.

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Technically speaking, this sequence is historic because it’s one of the earliest uses of CGI animation in a Disney film (though not the first). The clock gears of Big Ben are all computer animated, with the hand-drawn characters laid on top. According to the animators, this is what allowed them to create the sequence where Ratigan runs in, up, and through the gears during the chase. I also love to draw attention to Henry Mancini’s music for this scene: as Ratigan comes into frame behind Basil, listen closesly as the music starts. The melody is on a piano and is broken down into several interlocking segments with differing rhythms; just like the clock gears in Big Ben!

As Basil and Olivia reach the top of the clock tower, we look back to see a monstrous Ratigan, all poise and polish gone, running on all fours up through the gears, clothes in tatters, inarticulately growling as he pursues his quarry. He’s partly in shadows, and partly lit up by lightning flashes, which only adds to his menace. We can see now why his henchmen were so afraid; beneath that calculating veneer…Ratigan is a complete monster!

As the enraged rat gets ever closer, Basil tries desperately to get Olivia to safety before the villain can get to them, but their craft is just out of reach. Finally, just as the rat leaps for Basil, he tosses Olivia to her father, who catches his daughter with relief. But the nightmare is just starting for Basil: he’s in the clutches of Ratigan as they fall all the way down onto the hands of Big Ben in the pouring rain. The rat is determined that this time, Basil isn’t getting away from him: “there’s no escape THIS time Basil!” He uses his claws, visibly razor sharp, to slash and maul the detective, wanting to make him suffer for daring to humiliate the rat time and time again. It’s a spine-chilling moment, as you can hear Basil’s groans of pain (though in typical Disney fashion there isn’t a trace of blood to be seen).


Ratigan moves in for the kill and with one blow sends Basil flying off into the abyss (just missing the hands of his friends) and seemingly to his death. An overjoyed Ratigan crows that he’s finally won! But a voice from below replies: “On the contrary, the game’s not over yet!” Unbelievably, Basil has taken hold of the wreckage of the dirigible and Ratigan’s special bell, which he now mockingly rings. Just at that moment, the clock strikes the hour and the vibrations send a stunned Ratigan tumbling off, but not before he latches onto Basil and brings the mouse down with him!!

It seems to be the end for both Basil and his nemesis, but the detective has one last trick up his sleeve: when he fell, he took the propeller from the dirigible with him, and now he uses it to fly back up to his friends as the storm finally passes.

Despite the happy ending, this scene with Ratigan always scared me as a child: the transformation is so complete that he doesn’t seem like the same character anymore. And that scene where Basil gets literally mauled by this monster, it’s hard to believe sometimes that this movie was made for children. Because if you really think about it, if that scene were done realistically, there should be blood everywhere, not to mention broken bones from that fall onto the clock hands. It amazes me that in the very next scene Basil isn’t bandaged up in a few places.

What do you think of Ratigan’s final transformation into a horrific monster? Did this scene disturb you also? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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For more Disturbing Disney, see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

Disturbing Disney #19: Cinderella’s dress is destroyed (1950)

Disturbing Disney #20: Quasimodo is crowned ‘King of Fools’ (1996)

The Masque of the Red Death: “The Dance of Death” (1964)

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“The Dance of Death”

I came across Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death completely by accident several years ago when I was browsing through Netflix for something interesting to watch. While I generally don’t like horror, I do like Vincent Price very much, so I figured a film with Price in it couldn’t be THAT bad, so I gave it a try. The film is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name and tells the story of Prince Prospero (Price), a Satanist who invites several dozen nobles and their wives to stay in his castle while the Red Death ravages the countryside.

He promises that as long as they stay inside the castle they are safe, but in reality Prospero knows that everyone is doomed…except for him of course. As he explains to a terrified Francesca (played by Jane Asher, she is a peasant girl that Prospero kidnapped at the start of the film), he (Prospero) has made a deal with Satan himself: in return for delivering all of these souls to Hell via the Red Death, not only will Prospero be spared from the plague, but a high seat in Hell is reserved for him (Prospero has previously denied the existence of God and Heaven and therefore believes that ruling in Hell is the best thing to hope for).


From left to right: Prospero, Red Death and Francesca

For the film’s final ball scene, Prospero had commanded that nobody was to wear red (as it would be in bad taste). But, unknown to everyone, the living symbol of the Red Death has slipped into the castle and his presence lures Prospero into his Black Room. The Prince mistakenly believes that he is meeting with an ambassador of Satan who has come to “reward” him for his services (a claim the Red Death does not deny until Francesca is safely out of the castle where her lover Gino is waiting for her). As Prospero and the Red Death come back to the dancers, Death announces “It’s time for a new dance to begin…the Dance of Death!”


Upon these words, the scene of mirthful dancing and partying is changed into a danse macabre. One by one, each pair of dancers becomes coated in red “blood” (the symbol of infection with Red Death) and begin a halting, staggering ballet. It’s never been quite clear to me if they’re already dead or not, but it is an unforgettable scene. I draw this moment to your attention because of the haunting melody that begins with the first transformation. As the camera slides up and down the figure of the first pair, a sad woodwind melody begins. It continues at a leisurely pace as Prospero and Death walk among them (Prospero is amused by all of it). But once Francesca is sent away, Death finally reveals that the Prince is very mistaken in his beliefs as he informs Prospero that “Death has no master.”

When Prospero protests that “there is no God (because Satan “killed” him)” Death replies “He (Satan) does not rule alone. And your pact with him will not save you.” Prospero finally reaches out to see the face underneath the mask only to find…his own. As Death had earlier told him “There  is no face of Death, until the moment of your own death.” Seeing his own face reveals that it is Prospero’s time to die, a fate that the Prince tries to flee. And once he starts to run, the leisurely melody turns into an almost frantic march as the dancers swarm Prospero, looks of rage on their bloody faces. And at every opening…there is Death waiting with open arms. Finally, in a lumbering climax, all of the dancers fall dead on the floor, all but Prospero….and Death. Terrified, Prospero flees to the Black Room and locks the door, but Death is already inside. With the Prince cornered, Death delivers one of the most haunting lines I have ever heard: “Why should you be afraid to die? Your soul has been dead for a long time.” And with one touch…Prospero is dead.

This scene remains my favorite of the film, and if you haven’t seen it before, I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.

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The Great Mouse Detective “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” (1986)

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It pains me to see that The Great Mouse Detective (1986) often falls under the radar of Disney fans. The film is really quite important to the history of animated film: after the debacle of The Black Cauldron (1985), Disney’s animation department was at serious risk of being eliminated. But the great success of The Great Mouse Detective the next year proved to the powers-that-be that Disney could still find success in animation and because of this, a little film called The Little Mermaid was given the green light (paving the way for the Disney Renaissance).

Based on a series of children’s books entitled Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus, the film follows the adventures of the titular “great mouse detective” Basil, who lives in a tiny home at 221B Baker Street (sharing his residence with Sherlock Holmes and Watson).

When Basil’s eccentric life is interrupted by the retired Dr. Dawson and a little girl named Olivia whose father was kidnapped, Basil finds himself thrust into the greatest case of his career: stopping that master of crime, Professor Rattigan!!


Rattigan might just be one of the greatest animated Disney villains of all time, as he was brought to sinister life by the master of horror himself, Vincent Price. Of course I didn’t know that for many years, to me Vincent Price was just another name. But knowing what I know now, I can appreciate the performance all the better. Price had always wanted to be a Disney villain, and in an interview he gave, he called his performance as Rattigan as one of his favorites. In fact, Price’s acting influenced how the character was animated. Originally, Rattigan was going to be this rather weak-looking and snivelling character, but Price’s unforgettable voice changed all of that.


Rattigan, as his name implies, is a very large rat; but in a world where mice make up the majority of the population, he has taken great pains to pass himself off as a mouse, and won’t stand to be referred to as a rat by anyone. “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” serves as Rattigan’s introduction to the audience, as well as highlighting how evil and devious he is.

The Great Mouse Detective “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind” (1986)

The song begins with a spoken prologue, where Rattigan informs his gang that the time has come for his greatest plan to be put into motion, “the crime to top all crimes.” All we know for now is that it will take place on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and that it will be “a night she will never forget” (it is heavily implied that he’s going to harm/kill her in some way) and that he will be “the supreme ruler of all Mousedom!!” This declaration begins the song proper, as Rattigan brags about all the crimes he’s done before: robbing the Crown jewels, drowning widows and orphans and robbing many other places based on the amount of treasure laying around.


During this part of the song, one detail that sticks out right away is Bartholomew, the really, really drunk gang member who is more interested in lapping up the champagne instead of listening to Rattigan’s plan and song. In fact, he gets so drunk, that as the gang is preparing to toast Rattigan mid-song, Bartholomew pipes up “To Rattigan the world’s greatest rat!!”

Of course Rattigan is not amused, not one bit. And as the rat in mouse’s clothing tells his drunken lackey “…I’m afraid you’ve gone and upset me. You know what happens when someone upsets me…” he pulls out a bell and gives it a ring, and as this very action causes the rest of the gang to squeak in terror, you know something bad is coming.


As it turns out, Rattigan has a rather fat cat at his beck and call. As the overfed kitty stalks up for her next meal, the oblivious Bartholomew launches into a spine-chilling refrain of “Oh Rattigan, Oh Rattigan, you’re the tops and that’s that…” This use of the song is what we musicologists call “musical irony”, in that the lyrics praising Rattigan are contrasted with the increasingly sinister sounds that are building to the mouse’s death by cat. To further add to the suspense, you don’t actually see the moment happen: all the audience see’s is the shadowy profile of Bartholomew suspended above the cat’s mouth and then….*GULP* Now thoroughly cowed, the gang hysterically launches into the final verse (lest Rattigan summon the kitty again) and the status quo in Rattigan’s lair is re-established.

Seeing how casually Rattigan can dispose of anyone who “upsets” him (though we don’t really get to see him upset until the climax), this one sequence has made it clear that Rattigan is very, very dangerous (a lot more dangerous than even Basil is aware of). And also because of this scene, Rattigan remains one of my favorite Disney villains.

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