Before anyone even speaks, Penny releases a bottle with a message into the unforgiving sea. She exhibits bravery and cunning from first sight.
When looking at the letter from Penny, Bianca is the first Rescue Aid Society member up to look over it. She is also the first to volunteer: “Please, please may I have this assignment?” But it is no longer “a man’s world” so the Chairman (Bernard Fox) accepts her request as long as she has an escort. Of course, she chooses Bernard (Bob Newhart).
Miss Bianca is the adventurous one in the pair. She wants to take “the shortcut through the zoo”. Bernard is passive and wants to go around. However, they do end up following his thoughts because “it’s so dark in there”.
Miss Bianca further demonstrates her ability to be a strong female role model when she and Bernard decide to go with Madame Medusa (Geraldine Page). Bernard gets “in the suitcase” easily, but Bianca is left to improvise. She grabs the belt buckle and holds on for dear life and, when she falls off, she finds her way inside the car. There is no giving-up for this crafty lady.
When pursuing Penny in the swamp, Bianca is the one who falls off the boat. Classic damsel in distress. However, things change later. Bianca saves Bernard from the vicious traps of the alligators by diving head-first into the curtain and removing him from the “big bullies”.
Penny is also a proactive female protagonist. She tries “running away” to leave her dismal circumstances, but it “isn’t working”. Instead of waiting for a knight in shining armor, she actively tries to improve her situation.
She is ultimately the one who comes up with the escape plan. She suggests the elevator, swiping the swamp mobile, and “Mr. Snoop’s fireworks”. She knows exactly what to do but just “need[s] help” to accomplish it.
Even Ellie Mae (Jeanette Nolan) is very direct with her male counterparts. She instructs Luke (Pat Buttram) to “get down here right now.” And he does whatever she says.
This female tyrant sends Penny down the hole to find the diamond and refuses to bring her back up until she finds it. Mr. Snoops does not have the same confidence as Medusa.
Women have a lot of power in this movie. While there are many supporting male characters, the female actually represent the commanding, interesting characters in this movie.
Re-experiencing this movie as an adult can be inspiring. It is underrated but worth your time.
Tropes and idioms of this movie are always fascinating! Just click “The Rescuers” towards the bottom of the page.
Thanks for reading!