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The Aristocats is an animated feature produced and released by Walt Disney Productions in 1970. The twentieth animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe, and revolves around a family of aristocrat cats, and how an alley cat acquaintance helps them after a butler has kidnapped them to gain his mistress' fortune which was meant to go to them. It was originally released to theaters by Buena Vista Distribution on December 11, 1970. The title is a pun on the word aristocrats. It was the first movie to be produced without Walt Disney's supervision and was not a commercial success.

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.

Disney planned to release a sequel, The Aristocats II, in December 2005, set to release in 2007, but production was cancelled in early 2006.

Plot

The film is set in Paris, France, in 1910, and centers around a mother cat named Duchess and her three kittens Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse. The cats live in the mansion of retired opera singer Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, along with her English butler Edgar.

Madame Adelaide, early on, settles her will with her lawyer Georges Hautecourt, an aged, eccentric old friend of hers, stating that she wishes Edgar to look after her beloved cats until they die and then inherit the fortune himself. Edgar hears this from his own room and believes (based on the fable that cats have nine lives) that he will be dead before he inherits Madame Adelaide's fortune, and plots to remove the cats from a position of inheritance. He sedates the cats by putting an entire bottle of sleeping pills into the cat's food and then heads out into the country side to dispose of them. However, two hound dogs named Napoleon and Lafayette, ambush and attack Edgar, who escapes leaving behind his umbrella, bowler hat, the cats' bed-basket, and the sidecar of his motorcycle. The cats are left in the country side, while Madame Adelaide, the mouse Roquefort, and Edgar's horse Frou-Frou discover their absence.

In the morning, Duchess meets an alley cat named Thomas O'Malley, who ultimately offers to guide her and the kittens to Paris. From their meeting onward, Duchess is enamored of the handsome O'Malley and he with her; the kittens, too, are enraptured though he takes a moment to be fond of them.

The cats have a struggle returning to the city, briefly hitchhiking on the back of a milk cart before being chased off by the driver. Marie subsequently falls into a river and is saved by O'Malley. O'Malley himself is then rescued from the river by a pair of English geese, Amelia and Abigail Gabble, who are traveling for Paris. Assuming he is learning to swim, the two geese attempt to help him, nearly drowning him in the process. Upon their return to dry land, Amelia and Abigail join the cat group on their way back to Paris, all of them marching like geese, until they arrive in Paris and are forced to leave the cats to make their way home in order to help out their drunk uncle, Waldo.

Traveling across the rooftops of the city and exhausted, O'Malley offers his "pad" for them to spend the night. In doing so, the cats meet Scat Cat and his band, close friends to O'Malley, who perform "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat". After the band has departed and the kittens in bed, O'Malley and Duchess spend the evening on a nearby rooftop and talk, while the kittens listen at a windowsill. Though it is obvious they both have feelings for each other, Duchess ultimately turns him down, out of loyalty to Madame Adelaide. Edgar, meanwhile, returns to the farm and recovers his things after another conflict with Napoleon and Lafayette, who had found and made beds out of them.

In the morning, the cats make it back to the mansion, and O'Malley sadly departs. Edgar recaptures the cats in a sack and briefly hides them in an oven. Roquefort is dispatched to pursue O'Malley for his help. He does so, whereupon O'Malley races back to the mansion, ordering Roquefort to find Scat Cat and his gang. Despite almost being eaten, Roquefort informs Scat Cat of what has happened and they rush to help O'Malley rescue Duchess and her kittens.

Edgar places the cats in a trunk which he plans to send to Timbuktumarker, Africa. O'Malley, Scat Cat and his gang, Roquefort and Frou-Frou all fight Edgar, while Roquefort frees Duchess and kittens. In the end, Edgar is booted into the trunk, locked inside, and sent to Timbuktu himself. Now believing that Edgar has simply disappeared, Madame Adelaide rewrites her will to exclude Edgar and include O'Malley; simultaneously, Madame Adelaide starts a charity foundation providing a home for all of Paris' stray cats. The grand opening thereof, to which most of the major characters (including, Napoleon, Lafayette, Amelia, Abigail and Waldo) come, features Scat Cat's band, who perform a reprise of "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat".

Cast

  • Phil Harris as Thomas O'Malley (full name: Abraham de Lacy Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley) - a friendly alley cat who finds Duchess and her kittens stranded in the woods and befriends them, becoming a father figure to the kittens. He is the main male character in the film.
  • Eva Gabor as Duchess the White Cat - Madame Adelaide's cat and mother of three kittens. She falls in love with Thomas and is forced to choose her life at home or a life with Thomas. Robie Lester provided her singing voice. She is the main female character in the film.
  • Gary Dubin as Toulouse - the oldest kitten, he aspires to meet a tough alley cat and adores Thomas as a father figure. He acts very tough at times and often gets into Marie's and Berlioz's nerves.
  • Liz English as Marie - the middle kitten. Not only is she very bossy at times, but she also believes that by being female, she is the best of the three kittens, despite obviously being the weakest. She, like Toulouse, grows to love Thomas like a father.
  • Dean Clark as Berlioz - the youngest kitten. He is somewhat timid and shy. Like Toulouse and Marie, he grows to love Thomas like a father.
  • Sterling Holloway as Roquefort the Mouse - a friend of the cats. He attempts to find them after they are catnapped, but is unsuccessful.
  • Roddy Maude-Roxby as Edgar Balthazar - Madame Adelaide's butler and the main antagonist of the film. He hopes to get rid of the cats in order to inherit Adelaide's fortune.
  • Scatman Crothers as Scat Cat - Thomas's best friend and leader of a group of music-loving alley cats. Plays the trumpet.
  • Paul Winchell as Shun Gon the Chinese Cat - a member of Scat Cat's gang. Plays the piano and drums that are made out of pots.
  • Lord Tim Hudson as Hit Cat the English Cat - a member of Scat Cat's gang. Plays acoustic guitar.
  • Vito Scotti as Peppo the Italian Cat - a member of Scat Cat's gang. Plays the accordion.
  • Thurl Ravenscroft as Billy Boss the Russian Cat - a member of Scat Cat's gang. Plays cello bass guitar.
  • Pat Buttram as Napoleon the Bloodhound - a farm dog who attacks Edgar when he intrudes in the farm, unknowingly saving the lives of Duchess and her kittens. Napoleon insists, whenever cohort Lafayette makes a suggestion, that he is in charge – then proceeds to adopt Lafayette's suggestion as his own.
  • George Lindsey as Lafayette the Basset Hound - a farm dog and Napoleon's companion. He sometimes proves to be smarter than Napoleon, despite Napoleon staunchly insisting that he is the leader of the farm dogs.
  • Hermione Baddeley as Madame Adelaide Bonfamille - a former opera singer and owner of Duchess and her kittens.
  • Charles Lane as Georges Hautecourt the Lawyer - a senile old man who denies his old age and even refuses to accept Edgar's offer of using the lift instead of the long staircase, resulting in a brief chaos.
  • Monica Evans as Abigail Gabble - a goose who finds the cats and tries to help them get home.
  • Carole Shelley as Amelia Gabble - Abigail's twin sister.
  • Nancy Kulp as Frou-Frou the Horse - Roquefort's companion and who plays a part in subduing Edgar. Ruth Buzzi provided her singing voice.
  • Bill Thompson as Uncle Waldo - the drunk uncle of Amelia and Abigail.
  • Peter Renaday - French Milkman the Driver/Le Petit Cafe Cook/Truck Movers (uncredited)
  • Maurice Chevalier - Singer


Crew

  • Story adaptation: Ken Anderson, Larry Clemmons, Eric Cleworth, Vance Gerry, Julius Svendsen, Frank Thomas, Ralph Wright
  • Based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe
  • Supervising animators: Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery
  • Animators: Hal King, Eric Cleworth, Fred Hellmich, Eric Larson, Julius Svendsen, Walt Stanchfield, David Michener
  • Effects animators: Dan MacManus, Dick Lucas
  • Layout: Don Griffith, Basil Davidovich, Sylvia Roemer
  • Backgrounds: Al Dempster, Bill Layne, Ralph Hulett
  • Production manager: Don Duckwall
  • Assistant directors: Ed Hansen, Dan Alguire
  • Supervising sound editor: Robert O. Cook
  • Film editor: Tom Acosta
  • Music editor: Evelyn Kennedy
  • Music composed and conducted by George Bruns
  • Score orchestrated by Walter Sheets
  • Produced by Wolfgang Reitherman and Winston Hibler
  • Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman


Release

The Aristocats was re-released to theaters on December 19, 1981 and April 10, 1987. It was released on VHS in Europe on January 1, 1990.

It was first released on VHS in North America in the Masterpiece Collection series on April 24, 1996 and DVD on April 4, 2000 in the Gold Classic Collection line. The Aristocats had its Gold Collection disc quietly discontinued in 2006.

A new single-disc Special Edition DVD (previously announced as a 2-Disc set) was released on February 5, 2008.

International release dates

  • Brazilmarker: February 20, 1971
  • Argentinamarker: May 14, 1971
  • Australia: August 5, 1971
  • Italy: November 13, 1971
  • United Kingdom: November 22, 1971
  • Sweden: December 4, 1971
  • Spain: December 6, 1971
  • France: December 8, 1971
  • West Germany: December 16, 1971
  • Finland: December 17, 1971
  • Trinidad and Tobagomarker: December 20, 1971
  • Denmark: December 26, 1971
  • Norway: December 26, 1971
  • Icelandmarker: December 29, 1971
  • Hong Kong: January 20, 1972
  • Japan: March 11, 1972
  • Portugal: October 25-27, 1977, February 6, 1978, February 10, 1978, February 14-16, 1978
  • Mexico: December 6, 1978
  • Pakistanmarker: April 20, 1981
  • Russia: March 27, 2008
  • Romaniamarker: March 27, 2008
  • Bulgariamarker: March 27, 2008


Soundtrack

  1. "The Aristocats" - Maurice Chevalier "The Aristocats" is the title song from the film. It was written by Robert & Richard Sherman at the end of the eight year tenure working for Walt Disney Productions. Actor and singer Maurice Chevalier came out of retirement to sing this song for the motion picture's soundtrack. He recorded it in English as well as in French translation ("Naturellement - les Aristocats!").
  2. "Scales and Arpeggios" - Liz English, Gary Dubin, Dean Clark, Robie Lester
  3. "Thomas O'Malley Cat" - Phil Harris
  4. "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" - Phil Harris, Scatman Crothers, Thurl Ravenscroft, Vito Scotti, Paul Winchell This song is sung by Scatman Crothers as Scat Cat, Phil Harris as Thomas O'Malley Cat, and Thurl Ravenscroft as Billy Boss the Russian Cat. It was also released as a now rare 45 rpm single, in a version sung only by Phil Harris, which lacks the cartoon voices of the common release. The soundtrack CD released in 1996 contains an edited version of the song. The now politically incorrect lines sung by "Chinese Cat" voiced by Paul Winchell are removed.
  5. "She Never Felt Alone" - Robie Lester
  6. "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat (reprise)" - Phil Harris, Scatman Crothers, Thurl Ravenscroft, Vito Scotti, Paul Winchell, Ruth Buzzi, Bill Thompson
On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes "Thomas O'Malley Cat" on the purple disc and "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" on the orange disc. On Disney's Greatest Hits, this includes "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" on the red disc.

The Aristocats II

The Aristocats II was supposed to be a direct-to-video sequel to this film. Production was canceled in 2005.

References

  1. http://animationarchive.net/Deleted%20Movies/The%20Aristocats%20II/


External links




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