It’s all about the voices… and something of the animation, in this gentle story of a much-loved mother cat and her three charming kittens in 1910 Paris. Pampered by their elderly mistress who intends to leave her entire estate to them, they find themselves drugged and abandoned in the countryside by Edgar the wicked butler – who wants the whole estate for himself. But since this is a Disney movie, the perils are well – not very perilous at all, as Duchess and her kittens are taken in hand by the roguishly handsome and good-guy-in—spite-of-himself Thomas O’Malley, the Alley Cat. Only a little diverted along the way by a pair of wandering British geese, and a rollicking good time with a swinging alley-cat band, the ‘aristocats’ return home… but Edgar the wicked butler is still there. Thanks to their mouse friend, Roquefort and O’Malley’s alley cat friends – and the last-minute aid of a horse with a very neat sense of timing (not to mention good aim!) Edgar is banished, and it all ends on as happy a note as Disney movies ever did.

Released in 1970 it marks the end of an era, being the very last feature personally supervised by Walt Disney. It was also Maurice Chevalier’s very last vocal performance, according to an interview feature with the Sherman brothers, included among the extras. All things considered, it has worn very well. It is one of those small mysteries though – how Eva Gabor could be such a mediocre actress in live action, but do such touching and personable voice work as Duchess. The characters of the country dogs, Lafayette and Napoleon (voiced by Pat Buttram and George Lindsey) and their complicated pursuit of Edgar and his motor-bike sidecar was also unexpectedly diverting and hilarious. But what was a pair of southern good old boy hound-dogs doing in 1910 France? Probably the same thing that a mid-20th century feline jazz band was doing; this is a Disney movie, after all.

Extras include interviews with the Sherman brothers about the music, and a restored sequence of a song that was not used in the final cut. For my money, the best extras were a very witty and artistically accomplished excerpt from Disney’s “The Great Cat Family” and an entire short Minnie Mouse and Figaro featurette “Bath Day.”

“The Aristocats” is available at Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com

Be Sociable, Share!