Disney Animated Features
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Release Date: Christmas Eve 1970
It'd been three years since The Jungle Book and four since the death of Walt Disney. Yet the show must go on, and so came The Aristocats.
The story is a tale of five cats -- the refined Duchess; her kittens Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse; and a rather unrefined alley cat, Thomas O'Malley. Duchess and the kittens are the beloved pets and designated inheritors of Madame Bonfamille. The Madame's long-time butler, Edgar, therefore endeavors to dispose of the pesky felines so that he can inherit her fortune instead. The four cats escape and seek refuge with O'Malley, a free-spirited scoundrel who Duchess finds herself falling for, in spite of herself.
Like The Jungle Book, the film used famous actors and singers (including Phil Harris again) and a smattering of jazz to popularize it. The story doesn't hold up as well as that previous film, but it's still an entertaining movie.
The famous voices include
- Eva Gabor (yes, Ms. Green Acres herself, and the future voice of Bianca in The Rescuers and its sequel) as Duchess
- Phil Harris, previously Baloo in The Jungle Book, as Thomas O'Malley
- Sterling Holloway, the voice of Winnie-the-Pooh, as the helpful mouse Roquefort
- Deep-voiced actor/singer Thurl Ravenscroft as Russian Cat
- Paul Winchell, the voice of Tigger (until The Tigger Movie, in which, inexplicably, Jim Cummings took over), Gargamel, and Dick Dastardly, as Chinese Cat
- Character actor Pat Buttram (another Green Acres alumnus and the future voice of The Sheriff of Nottingham; he's famous for his long southern drawl) as Napoleon
The songs, by George Bruns
, are mostly forgettable, with the exception of the rousing "Everybody Wants to be a Cat
The only awards the film won were in Germany.
Not a bad film, The Aristocats is nontheless often overlooked, because it ranks relatively low on the list of Disney Animated Features. Despite the passing of "Uncle Walt", though, it was now clear that Disney would continue their tradition of producing entertaining films.
Information for the Disney Animated Features series of nodes comes from the IMDb (www.imdb.com), Frank's Disney Page (http://www.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/~fp/Disney/), and the dark recesses of my own memory.