The Aristocats

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The Aristocats
Aristoposter.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWinston Hibler
Wolfgang Reitherman
Written byKen Anderson
Larry Clemmons
Eric Cleworth
Vance Garry
Julius Svendsen
Frank Thomas
Ralph Wright
Based on"The Aristocats" by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe
StarringPhil Harris
Eva Gabor
Hermione Baddeley
Gary Dubin
Dean Clark
Sterling Holloway
Roddy Maude-Roxby
Liz English
Music byScore:
George Bruns
Songs:
Richard and Robert Sherman
Floyd Huddleston
Al Rinker
Terry Gilkyson
Production
  company
Walt Disney Productions
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date(s)December 11, 1970 (premiere)
December 24, 1970 (regular)
Running time78 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
French
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$55,675,257[2]
 
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For other uses, see Aristocrat (disambiguation).
The Aristocats
Aristoposter.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed byWolfgang Reitherman
Produced byWinston Hibler
Wolfgang Reitherman
Written byKen Anderson
Larry Clemmons
Eric Cleworth
Vance Garry
Julius Svendsen
Frank Thomas
Ralph Wright
Based on"The Aristocats" by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe
StarringPhil Harris
Eva Gabor
Hermione Baddeley
Gary Dubin
Dean Clark
Sterling Holloway
Roddy Maude-Roxby
Liz English
Music byScore:
George Bruns
Songs:
Richard and Robert Sherman
Floyd Huddleston
Al Rinker
Terry Gilkyson
Production
  company
Walt Disney Productions
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date(s)December 11, 1970 (premiere)
December 24, 1970 (regular)
Running time78 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
French
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$55,675,257[2]

The Aristocats is an American animated feature film produced and released by Walt Disney Productions in 1970 and features the voices of Eva Gabor, Hermione Baddeley, Phil Harris, Dean Clark, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, and Roddy Maude-Roxby. The 20th 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 aristocratic cats, and how an alley cat acquaintance helps them after a butler has kidnapped them to gain his mistress' fortune which was intended to go to them. It was originally released to theaters by Buena Vista Distribution on December 11, 1970.

The film is noted for being the last film project to be approved by Walt Disney himself, as he died in late 1966, before the film was released. He had, however, been working in the story development for The Rescuers (1977) as early as 1962. The Aristocats gained positive reviews on first release and was a box office success.

Plot

In Paris in 1910, a mother cat named Duchess and her three kittens, Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse, live in the mansion of retired opera diva Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, along with her English butler, Edgar. While preparing her will with her lawyer Georges Hautecourt, an aged, eccentric old friend of hers, she declares that she wants her fortune to be left to her cats, who will retain it until their deaths, upon which her fortune will revert to Edgar. Edgar hears this from his own room through a speaking tube, but he is unwilling to wait for the inheritance, and plots to eliminate the cats.

He sedates the cats by putting sleeping pills into their food and heads out into the countryside to abandon them. However, he is ambushed by two hounds, named Napoleon and Lafayette, and loses the cats during the chase. The cats are unharmed, but stranded in the countryside, while Madame Adelaide, Roquefort the mouse, and Frou-Frou the horse discover their absence. In the morning, Duchess meets an alley cat named Thomas O'Malley, who offers to guide her and the kittens to Paris. The group briefly hitchhikes on the back of a milk cart before being chased off by the driver. Later, while crossing a railroad trestle, the cats narrowly avoid an oncoming train, but Marie falls into a river and is saved by O'Malley. O’Malley is himself rescued by a pair of English geese, Amelia and Abigail Gabble, who are on a tour of France and accompany the cats back to Paris. Edgar, meanwhile, returns to retrieve various articles from Napoleon and Lafayette, albeit with some difficulty, knowing that it is the only evidence that could incriminate him.

Travelling across the rooftops of the city, the cats meet Scat Cat and his band, close friends to O'Malley, who perform the scat song Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat. After the band has departed and the kittens lie in bed, O'Malley and Duchess spend the evening on a nearby rooftop and talk, while the kittens listen at a windowsill. Although Duchess has feelings for O’Malley, her loyalty to Madame prompts her to decline his advances. The cats return to the mansion, but Edgar sees them coming and captures them, places them in a sack and prepares to ship them to Timbuktu. The cats tell Roquefort to pursue O'Malley and get help. He does so, whereupon O'Malley races back to the mansion, ordering Roquefort to find Scat Cat and his gang. The alley cats and Frou-Frou fight Edgar, while Roquefort frees Duchess and the kittens. In the end, Edgar is tipped into the trunk, locked inside, and sent to Timbuktu himself.

Madame Adelaide's will is rewritten to exclude Edgar, with Madame expressing surprise at Edgar’s sudden departure. After adopting O’Malley into the family, Madame also decides to start a charity foundation providing a home for all of Paris' stray cats.

Production

This film was the last one to be approved by Walt Disney himself, and the first one produced after his death in 1966. The film took four years to produce, at a budget of $4,000,000. Five of Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men" worked on it, including the Disney crew that had been working 25 years on average.[3]

Cast of characters

Release

The Aristocats was re-released to theaters on December 19, 1980 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 on 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.

Disney released the film for the first time on Blu-ray on August 21, 2012.[4][5] The 2-disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo (both in Blu-ray and DVD packaging) will feature a new digital transfer and new bonus material.[6] A single disc DVD edition will also be released the same day.[7]

Reception

The film was the most popular "general release" movie at the British box office in 1971.[8]

Based on 29 reviews, the film has a 66% rating at Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6/10, relatively low for a Disney animated feature, but still classified as "fresh". Of the reviews, 19 gave it "fresh" and 10 gave it "rotten".[9]

The film was nominated for AFI's 10 Top 10 in the "Animation" genre.[10]

Soundtrack

  1. "The Aristocats" - Maurice Chevalier. Ths title song from the film 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. It would be his last work before his death in 1972.
  2. "Pourquoi?" - A deleted song sung by Hermione Baddeley as Madame Bonfamille, who sings about her love for her cats while harmonizing with a recording of her own voice on a 78-RPM. Marie, voiced by Robie Lester, interrupts the song twice by asking her "Purr-quoi?", to which she replies "Because I am with you." The song, introduced by co-songwriter Richard M. Sherman (who recorded the demonstration recording), is featured among the extras in the 2008 Special Edition DVD.
  3. "Scales and Arpeggios" - Gary Dubin, Robie Lester, Dean Clark and Liz English
  4. "Thomas O'Malley Cat" - Phil Harris
  5. "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" - Phil Harris, Scatman Crothers, Thurl Ravenscroft, Vito Scotti, Paul Winchell. This song is sung by Crothers as Scat Cat, with the other members of his polyethnic jazz band. It was released as a now rare 45 rpm single, in a version sung only by Harris, which lacks the cartoon voices of the common release. The soundtrack CD released in 1996 contains an edited version of the song.[citation needed]

The lines sung by "Chinese Cat", voiced by Winchell, were later deemed politically incorrect and removed. However, they remain in the song as featured in the DVD release.[citation needed]

  1. "She Never Felt Alone" - Another deleted song, this number features a reprise of "Pourquoi?", sung by Robie Lester on her own with different lyrics, explaining why Madame loves her and the kittens. Lester's piano-and-voice demo is featured among the DVD extras, within the same section as "Pourquoi?"
  2. "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat (reprise)" - Harris, Crothers, Ravenscroft, Scotti, Winchell, Ruth Buzzi, and Bill Thompson. A reprise featuring all of the animal characters in the film.

On Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic, this includes "Thomas O'Malley Cat" on the purple disc and "Ev'rybody 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.

International versions

In Italy the title was translated to Gli Aristogatti. Most of the characters maintained their original names but Thomas O'Malley was renamed Romeo, Er mejo der Colosseo ("The best of Colosseum" in Romanesco), and his origin changed from Ireland to Italy.

References

  1. ^ "Magical Kingdoms". Magical Kingdoms. 1970-12-24. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  2. ^ "The Aristocats, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Aristocats at the Disney Archives". Disney.go.com. 1970-12-24. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  4. ^ "The Aristocats (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition in Blu-ray Packaging)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  5. ^ "The Aristocats (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Special Edition in DVD Packaging)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  6. ^ "The Aristocats: Special Edition | Now On Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack". Disneydvd.disney.go.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  7. ^ The Aristocats (Special Edition). "The Aristocats (Special Edition)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  8. ^ The Times [London, England] December 30, 1971: p. 2; The Times Digital Archive; accessed July 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "The Aristocats at Rotten Tomatoes". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  10. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-27. 

External links