Premiered in: Oliver and Company (1988)
Voiced By: Robert Loggia
Bill Sykes… is a confusing Disney Villain. Make no mistake, the man is the very definition of loan shark in terms of sheer, nearly inhuman, ferocity when it comes to money but that’s precisely what makes him so confusing. We’re made plainly aware of the fact that the homeless man Fagin owes Sykes a great deal of money, enough that Sykes makes use of his two Doberman lackeys to threaten Fagin and his company of dogs. The main question however is just why a man like Sykes would give anything to a man like Fagin. I’m not hating on the homeless by any means but whether or not Fagin used the money wisely, and given the general happy and healthy state of his dogs I’d say that he did, just how did Sykes expect the guy to pay him back with the usual interest that loan sharks add?
It gets even more confusing when Fagin comes up with a plan to ransom the cat Oliver for a hefty payment from his owner, whom Fagin presumes to be a wealthy adult whereas Sykes, ironically enough, makes the connection that Oliver’s owner is indeed wealthy but a child. A perfect person to ransom for an even bigger payout than what poor Jenny could offer with her piggy bank alone.
Again though why? Not that I’m familiar with loan sharking beyond what I’ve seen in film and television, going from that to a ransom-demanding kidnapper sounds like a huge leap, especially given how desperate Sykes is to keep Jenny since he did manage to make the ransom demands. To the family butler as the parents are not only out of town but also out of the freaking country but I digress.
While it’s quite clear that Sykes has minions, what with his phone conversation about breaking a man’s knuckles, his two main enforcers are a pair of Doberman named Roscoe and DiSoto. The pair are a kind of stereotypical attack dogs perfectly trained to go from calm and menacing to vicious and rabid at the snap of Sykes’ fingers. Though they don’t play that much of a role in the film, honestly I forget that they’re even there half the time, they do share the honor of second most graphic death scene in the film with the two of them being hurled out to and electrocuted upon some railway tracks. As to the first…
Well, let’s just say that in his desperation to grab Jenny back from Fagin, Sykes never took notice of the fact that railways, particularly New York City railways, generally have trains on them…
With the death of this admittedly confusing and frankly lackluster Disney Villain, we come to the end of the “Dark Age” of Disney animation and begin a new era the likes of which resonate even now nearly two decades later. That’s right people we’re about to enter a new renaissance!