Rascal (film)

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Rascal poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNorman Tokar
Written byHarold Swanton
Based onRascal: A Memoir of a Better Era
by Sterling North
Produced byJames Algar
StarringBill Mumy
Walter Pidgeon (voice)
Steve Forrest
Pamela Toll
Narrated byWalter Pidgeon
CinematographyWilliam E. Snyder
Edited byNorman R. Palmer
Music byBuddy Baker
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
September 4, 1969 (1969-09-04)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States

Rascal is a 1969 American comedy-drama film made by Walt Disney Productions, based on the book of the same name by Sterling North, about a young man and his pet raccoon set in rural Wisconsin.[1]


The movie is a dramatization of Sterling North's 1963 "memoir of a better era." Born near Edgerton, Wisconsin, North was a former literary editor for newspapers in Chicago and New York City. The movie relates a year in the life of young Sterling North (portrayed by Bill Mumy) and his "ringtailed wonder" pet raccoon, Rascal. Although set in Wisconsin, circa 1918, the movie was filmed in California.

The film features the song "Summer Sweet" by Bobby Russell.[2]


Differences from the book[edit]

In the award-winning book of the same name, all three of Sterling North's real-life siblings are featured in the story: his brother Herschel and his sisters Theodora (Theo) and the future poet and editor Jessica Nelson North. Theo is the only sibling featured in the film version.

Critical reception[edit]

Rascal was the first film given a review in a publication by film critic Gene Siskel (later of Siskel and Ebert), appearing in the Chicago Tribune one month before he became the paper's official film critic in 1969. His review of the film was not favorable ("Because of excessive gimmickry, most kids will miss the tenderness," he wrote).[3][4]

Howard Thompson of The New York Times described the film as "genteel, sweet-natured and appealingly frail," but thought the story "gets a little patly philosophical in trying to thrust practical responsibilities on the young hero, Bill Mumy, and his carefree, widowed father, Steve Forrest."[5] Variety noted, "Diverting adaptation of Sterling North book about a boy and his pet raccoon. 'Rascal' will pull younger generation as well as family-groups in to see a clean, well-presented, unashamedly sentimental Disney film."[6] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "for the young (and old) audience for which it is intended, 'Rascal' is practically perfect hot weather fare, offering a spacious escape to a world of tree-shaded streets and spacious lawns, verandas, woods and ponds, trotting horses and Stanley Steamers (one at least)."[7] The Monthly Film Bulletin stated, "Routine Disney boy-befriends-animal feature, agreeable enough on its own terms but as mawkishly sentimental as usual and with the additional embarrassment of a commentary by Walter Pidgeon which keeps insisting what a marvellous boyhood summer it all was."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ Thomas S. Hischak; Mark A. Robinson (July 29, 2009). The Disney Song Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press. pp. 189–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6938-7.
  3. ^ "The Movie Reviews". Chicago Tribune. October 15, 1999.
  4. ^ Siskel, Gene (August 5, 1969). "The Disney Version of 'Rascal'". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, page 5.
  5. ^ Thompson, Howard (October 30, 1969). "Unhurried Pace of Rascal the Raccoon". The New York Times. 58.
  6. ^ "Film Reviews: Rascal". Variety. June 11, 1969. 6.
  7. ^ Champlin, Charles (August 14, 1969). "Walt Disney's 'Rascal' Opens Citywide Run". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  8. ^ "Rascal". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (432): 15. January 1970.

External links[edit]