Disney's R-Rated "Rescuers" Recall

Nude background images reportedly found in '77 'toon

By Daniel Frankel Jan 09, 1999 1:40 AMTags
The human eye is incapable of deciphering an image on only two film frames when the reel is advancing at the normal viewing speed of 30 frames per second.

But make no mistake, the Walt Disney Co. is fully capable of deciphering a threat to its family-friendly reputation, no matter how silly it seems. As such, Mickey's minions are recalling 3.4 million home video copies of the just-rereleased 1977 feature 'toon The Rescuers after discovering that two of the cartoon's 110,000 frames contain--as a Mouse press release puts it--an "objectionable background image."

The offending picture? A nude woman's torso, apparently inserted into the film soon after the cartoon was drawn, according to Associated Press.

In other words, the R-rated footage has been there ever since the Bob Newhart- and Eva Gabor-voiced film about a group of heroic mice trying to rescue a kidnapped girl was released in theaters in 1977, and rereleased in '83 and '89.

According to the Disney statement, the company's recall was done to "keep its promise to families that they can trust and rely on the Disney brand to provide the finest in family entertainment."

As for who tampered with the film, the studio might have to come up with a retroactive pink slip. "This is something that was done more than 20 years ago," Disney spokewoman Claudia Peters says.

The recall--which only applies to video copies sent to stores this week, since previous copies released in 1992 originated from a different, uncorrupted print--is the first of its kind for Disney.

However, it's not the first time an "objectionable" piece of content has allegedly been slipped into one of the studio's animated films.

A conservative watchmouse group has accused Disney of disseminating subliminal cartoon pornography in the past. In 1995, Virginia's American Life League urged the Mouse House to recall its The Lion King because of a scene that it claimed contained a rising cloud of animated dust that formed the word "sex."

This group has also had problems with The Little Mermaid (they say the minister gets hot 'n' bothered during the wedding ceremony, and a castle tower is actually a penis) and Aladdin (they accuse the title character of mumbling a phrase urging youngsters to disrobe).

Disney has denied all those allegations.