Saturday, February 26, 2011

Peter Ustinov & Cloris Leachman in The Mouse and His Child (1977)

Obscurity factor: 8

This film, based on the book of the same name by Russell Hoban, tells the story of a windup toy mouse and his son who are unpacked from their box and find themselves in a toy shop. They meet the other toys and the child longs for all of them to be a family together. They have a long journey together before that is to come to pass, however. They fall off a counter and break and are discarded. At the dump, they're enslaved by Manny the rat (Ustinov) and forced to work with other discarded windup toys in the rat's casino. They escape, and while being pursued by the rat, attempt to locate the elephant and seal from the toy shop and become self winding.

This is a children's film with the very adult themes of self discovery and actualization, and messages about persistence and intention. The themes are presented overtly and through the use of symbolism. Through out the film, there is an underlying respect for humanity and warmth that is very admirable. One of the more interesting devices used repeatedly throughout the film is the graphics on a can of dog food. The image of a dog holding a can with the image of a dog on it repeated into infinity can be interpreted many ways, but brings to mind the idea of finding our way back to source, as well as the idea of the journey being the destination. Listen for Sally Kellerman as the voice of the seal.
This film is very hard to find. It was released on VHS in 1991, but hasn't been released on DVD yet. Copies of it can run upwards of $100, but there were some used copies available on Amazon for a reasonable price. You can also watch it in full above, thanks to a YouTube upload by CaptainSlug. The poster is available on

Obscurity factor: 8 (hard to find, not on DVD, available on YouTube)


  1. Oh, Lord, I cannot even THINK about this movie (or the book upon which it's based) without bursting into tears like the traumatized eight-year-old I was when I first saw it. And that was thirty-four years ago. Powerful stuff.

  2. I know the feeling. I've been listening to the theme song and getting misty ever since I posted the film...