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The Aristocats is the twentieth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon, released in 1970 from the Walt Disney studio. The story revolves around a family of aristocratic cats, and how an alley cat acquaintance helps prevent a butler from kidnapping them to gain his mistress' fortune. This film is noted for being the last film to be approved by Walt Disney himself; he died in 1966, while the film was still in early production. It was originally released to theaters by Buena Vista Distribution on December 11, 1970. The title is in fact a pun on the word Aristocrats.

The film's basic idea - an animated romantic musical comedy about talking cats in France - had previously been used in the UPA animated feature Gay Purr-ee.There is a rumour that the Aristocats is coming out on a new edition in spring 2007.

Plot

Set in Paris, France in the year 1919, this is the story about a mother cat named Duchess and her three kittens: her daughter Marie, and her two sons Berlioz and Toulouse. They live in the Mansion of retired opera singer Adelaide Bonfamille, along with Edgar Balthazar (her butler), Frou Frou the horse, and Roquefort the mouse, who is a good friend of the cats.

Adelaide, who will be passing away soon, wants to settle her will with her lawyer Georges Hautecourt(a comical old man who denies his old age and refuses to accept Edgar's offer of taking the lift instead of the long staircase). Adelaide tells Georges that she wishes to leave her entire fortune to her butler, but only after her cats reach "the end of their natural lifespans." Edgar overhears this plan (through a soundpipe) and is dismayed as he worries that he will die before he is able to collect the inheritance.

That evening, Edgar drops some sleeping pills in the cats' milk, putting them to sleep. Then, after night falls, Edgar takes the sleeping cats in their basket far away from home, hoping to drop them on the banks of a river near a farm. However, two farm dogs, Napoleon and Lafayette, hear Edgar approach. Believing him to be an intruder, the dogs attack him, biting him on the rear end. This causes him to drop the basket on the river bank. Edgar manages to escape, but is forced to leave his motorbike's sidecar, his prized hat, and an umbrella.

Back at the mansion, Roquefort learns that the cats are missing, and goes out to look for them.

Meanwhile, Duchess and the kittens awake to find themselves in unfamiliar settings. Worried, they decide to sleep in their basket and wait for morning. When the sun rises, Duchess meets a friendly, self-absorbed, worldly stray cat named Abraham DeLacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley, who befriends the cats and helps them get home. From the first, Thomas is smitten with the beautiful Duchess, and she with him. He takes on an indulgent, paternal role toward the kittens, who are quite awed with this handsome, seemingly knowledgeable newcomer.

Roquefort returns to the mansion, and miserably tells the downhearted Frou Frou that he couldn't find the cats anywhere. Edgar, the only happy person in the mansion, dances into the stable and tells Frou Frou (believing that she can't understand him) that it was he who kidnapped the cats. It is then that Edgar remembers that the only evidence left to convict him is the stuff he left at the farm the previous night, and that he must get them back quickly.

Thomas, Duchess and the kittens continue the journey home, and befriend three geese named Abigail, Amelia and Waldo on the way. Abigail and Amelia (possibly modeled after the sisters Gwendolyn and Cicely in the earlier movie "The Odd Couple") are bombastic English geese, who misinterpret Thomas' every move; Waldo is their uncle, a frivolous drunk with an obvious sense of humor. Even the very proper Duchess is amused by him. Later on, the cats find an old house to stay in with Thomas' musical alley cat friends led by Scat Cat.

Meanwhile, Edgar sets off to the farm to find his stuff, and sees that Napoleon and Lafayette have made beds out of them. Edgar lures the two dogs away from his things. After another fight, he manages to escape again, this time with everything. Napoleon and Lafayette stare at the triumphant butler in horror, and Napoleon scolds Lafayette by bashing him on the head.

The next morning, the cats make it back home, and Duchess says goodbye to Thomas. Edgar opens the door for them, letting them in. But before Roquefort can warn them, Edgar slams a sack over them, tying them up and hiding them in the oven. Horrified, Roquefort runs to get Thomas, who tells Roquefort to call his alley cat friends while he holds Edgar off.

Thomas sneaks into the barn, where he sees Edgar lock Duchess and the kittens in a trunk, hoping to send them to Timbuktu. Thomas stops Edgar and closes the barn door. Edgar and Thomas fight over the trunk, but Edgar, being human, overpowers the stray cat and pins him to a wall with a pitchfork. To his surprise, Thomas finds himself not impaled and dead, but caught between two prongs. At that moment, Roquefort and the alley cats arrive and stall Edgar while Roquefort unlocks the padlock on the trunk.

After a fierce battle, Frou Frou kicks Edgar into the trunk, just as the delivery men arrive. They ship him to Timbuktu.

That night, Adelaide accepts Thomas into the family, and erases Edgar from her will. She also gives the cats a surprise: her new cat foundation, which makes a home for all the alley cats of Paris. Adelaide urges Georges to make provision in the will "for their future little ones".

A party is thrown in the foundation room, with nearly everyone from the movie: Scat Cat and his band, Frou Frou, Roquefort, Napoleon, Lafayette (the farmer possibly kicked the two dogs out for making a mess in the farm during their battles with Edgar), Amelia, Abigail and Waldo.


Characters

The Aristocats uses the funny animals convention of talking animals who are understood by all other species except humans. Species featured include Cat, Dog, Mouse, Frog, Horse, and Goose. Specific characters are as follows:

  • Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley (voiced by Phil Harris) - an alley cat who befriends Duchess and the kittens and becomes Duchess's mate; he was simply referred to as "Thomas O'Malley".
  • Duchess (voiced by Eva Gabor]]) - an "aristocat" that lives with Madame Bonfamille.
  • Marie (voiced by Liz English) - Duchess's white daughter.
  • Berlioz (voiced by Dean Clark) - Duchess's black-furred son.
  • Toulouse (voiced by Gary Dubin) - Duchess's ginger son.
  • Edgar Balthazar (voiced by Roddy Maude-Roxby) - Madame Bonfamille's greedy butler.
  • Roquefort (voiced by Sterling Holloway) - a mouse who lives with Duchess and her kittens.
  • Scat Cat (voiced by Scatman Crothers) - a leader of an alley cat band and a friend of O'Malley's.
  • Adelaide Bonfamille (voiced by Hermione Baddeley) - the owner of Duchess and her kittens.
  • Napoleon and Lafayette (voiced by Pat Buttram and George Lindsey respectively) - Two hound dogs who attack Edgar. Napoleon is a Bloodhound, while Lafayette is a Basset Hound.
  • Frou Frou (voiced by Nancy Kulp) - Madame Bonfamille's horse.
  • Amelia and Abigail Gabble (voiced by Carole Shelley and Monica Evans respectively) - Two geese (twin sisters) who save O'Malley from drowning.
  • Uncle Waldo (voiced by Bill Thompson) - Amelia and Abigail's Uncle.
  • Georges Hautecourt (voiced by Charles Lane) - Madame Bonfamille's lawyer. Madame tells her lawyer her will (also heard by Edgar). Georges is old. In fact, while getting out of his car he says that "he was not as young as he was when he was 80", indicating that he is older than 80, and probably older than Madame Bonfamille herself.
  • Shun Gon (voiced by Paul Winchell) - a crazy Chinese cat.
  • Hit Cat (voiced by Lord Tim Hudson) - an English cat, with wild blonde hair.
  • Peppo (voiced by Vito Scotti) - an Italian cat, wearing a look-alike Robin Hood hat and a red scarf.
  • Billy Boss (voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft) - a Russian cat, who plays the double bass in Scat Cat's band.

The Milkman and Le Petit Cafe Cook both appear in the movie; their voices were provided by Peter Renaday (an actor who remained uncredited for the movie). Robie Lester and Ruth Buzzi respectively provide the singing voices for Duchess and Frou Frou throughout the movie as well.

Soundtrack listing

  1. The Aristocats - Maurice Chevalier
  2. Scales And Arpeggios - Liz English, Gary Dubin, Dean Clark
  3. Thomas O'Malley Cat - Phil Harris
  4. Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat - Phil Harris, Scatman Brothers
  5. She Never Felt Alone - Robie Lester

Titles in different languages

  • Bosnian: Mačke iz visokog društva
  • Bulgarian: Аристокотките (Aristokotkite)
  • Cantonese Chinese: 富貴貓 ("Wealthy Cats")
  • Croatian: Mačke iz visokog društva (High Society Cats)
  • Czech: Aristokočky
  • Danish: Aristocats
  • Dutch: De Aristokatten
  • Finnish: Aristokatit
  • French: Les Aristochats
  • Estonian: Aristokassid
  • German: Die Aristocats
  • Greek: Οι Αριστογάτες
  • Hebrew: חתולים בצמרת (Elite Cats)
  • Hungarian: Macskarisztokraták
  • Icelandic: Hefðakettirnir
  • Italian: Gli Aristogatti
  • Japanese: おしゃれキャット (Osharekyatto)
  • Korean (South Korea): 아리스토캣
  • Mandarin Chinese: 貓兒歷險記
  • Norwegian: Aristokattene
  • Persian: گربه هاي اشرافي
  • Polish: Aryskotraci
  • Portuguese: Os Aristogatas
  • Romanian: Pisicile aristocrate
  • Russian: Коты аристократы (Koty aristokraty)
  • Serbian: Mačke iz visokog društva
  • Slovenian (Slovenia): Mačke iz visoke družbe
  • Spanish: Los Aristogatos
  • Swedish: Aristocats
  • Thai: อริสโตแคตส์
  • Vietnamese: Gia Đình Mèo Quý Tộc

Context

As the last animated feature approved for production by Walt Disney, and the first made after his death on December 15, 1966, The Aristocats has more in common with its immediate predecessors than with later films in the post-Disney era. Unlike the earliest of Disney's full-length animated films (as well as some more recent entries), the story was not based on a classic children's story, a point it shares in common with Lady and the Tramp (1955) and 101 Dalmatians (1961). Many of the same artists who worked on these two features, as well as The Jungle Book (1967), were also available to see The Aristocats through to completion, including a number of Disney's Nine Old Men.

Similarities and parallels between 101 Dalmatians and The Aristocats

A number of parallels have been noted between The Aristocats and 101 Dalmations specifically.

  • Each centers on one of the two most popular species of pets (one is about dogs, the other about cats), and features a character of the opposite species.
  • The delivery van in The Aristocats is similar to the moving van in 101 Dalmatians. They both have what looks like a face on the side.
  • Both are about pets being stolen for the petnapper's benefit, with no ransom involved.
  • Horace & Jasper's van, from 101 Dalmatians, is in The Aristocats. It is used as the Milkman's truck, and it is colored blue.
  • In 101 Dalmatians, Pongo bites Jasper on the butt. In The Aristocats, Napoleon the country dog bites Edgar in the same place.

Similarities and parallels between The Jungle Book and The Aristocats

Although there are few obvious parallels on screen between The Jungle Book and The Aristocats, there is a significant overlap in credits between the two consecutively-made films. Composer Terry Gilkyson wrote "The Bare Necessities" for The Jungle Book, a song that was sung by Phil Harris as Baloo. For The Aristocats he wrote the song "Thomas O'Malley Cat", also sung by Phil Harris. The Sherman Brothers, who wrote most of the other songs used in The Jungle Book, wrote three songs for The Aristocats: the title song, "Scales and Arpeggios", and "She Never Felt Alone". Sterling Holloway, who played Kaa in The Jungle Book, played 'Roquefort in The Aristocats. Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson and Vance Gerry shared screenwriting credit on both films. Wolfgang Reitherman directed them, and of course, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery, and Frank Thomas were the directing animators.

Opening previews

1996 VHS (Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection)

  • 1991 Green FBI Warnings
  • New & Exciting from Disney/Special Message from "Walt Disney World" Bumper
  • Walt Disney World Commercial: My Vacation
  • "From DIsney Interactive" Bumper
  • Toy Story Interactive Storybook & Video Game Promo
  • Special Preview Bumper
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame Theatrical Trailer
  • "And look for these great Disney movies...."
  • Muppet Treasure Island Home Video Trailer
  • Tom & Huck Home Video Trailer
  • Aladdin & The King of Thieves Home Video Trailer
  • Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection Logo (with voice-over)
  • "This film has been modified...."
  • 1990 Walt Disney Pictures Logo
  • Opening Credits

Trivia

  • There is supposed to be the movie's direct-to-video sequel called The Aristocats II, but the project was cancelled until The Walt Disney Company has plans to create and produce an animated theatrical motion picture spin-off, "All That Jazz", which is being planned, proposed, and in-progress. An animated TV series adaptation of the movie, titled Thomas O'Malley & The Alley Cats, is also being planned as well.

External links


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