Original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wolfgang Reitherman|
|Produced by|| Winston Hibler |
|Story by|| Ken Anderson |
|Based on||"The Aristocats" by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe|
|Starring|| Phil Harris |
|Music by||George Bruns|
|Edited by||Tom Acosta|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Box office||$191 million|
The Aristocats is a 1970 American animated romantic adventure musical comedy film directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The 20th Disney animated feature film, 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's fortune which was intended to go to them. The film features the voices of Eva Gabor, Hermione Baddeley, Phil Harris, Dean Clark, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, and Roddy Maude-Roxby.
In 1962, The Aristocats project began as an original script for a two-part live-action episode for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color , developed by writers Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe and producer Harry Tytle. Following two years of re-writes, Walt Disney suggested the project would be more suitable for an animated film, and placed the project in turnaround as The Jungle Book advanced into production. When The Jungle Book was nearly complete, Disney appointed Ken Anderson to develop preliminary work on The Aristocats, making it the last film project to be approved by Disney personally before his death in December 1966.
The Aristocats was released on December 24, 1970 to positive reception and was a box office success.
In Paris 1910, mother cat Duchess and her three kittens, Berlioz, Marie, and Toulouse, live with retired opera diva Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, and her English butler, Edgar. One day while preparing her will with lawyer Georges Hautecourt, Madame declares that her fortune will be left to her cats until their deaths, and thereafter to Edgar. Edgar hears this through a speaking tube and plots to eliminate the cats. He later sedates them by putting sleeping pills in a milk mixture intended for them, and drives them to the countryside to abandon them. There, he is ambushed by two hounds named Napoleon and Lafayette, losing his hat and umbrella, and the cats are 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 in a milk truck before being chased out 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, who in turn has to be rescued by two English geese, Amelia and Abigail Gabble, who accompany the cats to Paris. Meanwhile, Edgar returns to the country to retrieve his possessions from Napoleon and Lafayette, after realising that they are the only evidence that could incriminate him.
Travelling across the rooftops of the city, the cats meet O'Malley's friend Scat Cat and his musicians, who perform the song "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat". After the band has departed, O'Malley and Duchess converse on a nearby rooftop while the kittens listen at a windowsill, and Duchess' loyalty to Madame prompts her to decline O'Malley's marriage proposal. The next day, Duchess and the kittens return to Madame's mansion, but Edgar finds them before she does, places them in a sack and prepares to ship them to Timbuktu. Roquefort catches up with O'Malley at the cats’ instruction, and O'Malley returns to the mansion, sending Roquefort to find Scat Cat and his gang; while he struggles to explain why he was sent to find them, Roquefort successfully brings them to the mansion. The alley cats and Frou-Frou fight Edgar, while Roquefort frees Duchess and the kittens. At the end of the fight, Edgar is locked in his own packing-case and sent to Timbuktu himself, never to be seen again. The cats return to Madame Adelaide, whose will is rewritten to exclude Edgar, with Madame remaining ignorant of the reason for his departure. After adopting O’Malley into the family, Madame establishes a charity foundation housing Paris' stray cats (represented by Scat Cat and his band, who reprise their song).
On December 9, 1961, Walt Disney suggested that Harry Tytle and Tom McGowan find some animal stories to adapt as a two-part live-action episode for the Wonderful World of Color television program. By New Year's 1962, McGowan had found several stories including a children's book about a mother cat and her kittens set in New York City. However, Tytle felt that a London location had added a significant element to One Hundred and One Dalmatians and suggested setting the story of the cats in Paris.Following a rough storyline, the story became about two servants—a butler and a maid—who were in line to inherit a fortune of an eccentric mistress after the pet cats died and focused on their feeble and foolish attempts to eliminate the felines. Boris Karloff and Francoise Rosay were in mind to portray the butler and the distressed Madame. A subplot centered around a mother cat hiding her kittens to keep them out of danger in a variety of different homes and locales around Paris, France. During the filming of Escapade in Florence , McGowan brought him the story that had been written by Tom Rowe, an American writer who was living in Paris.
By August 1962, they sent the completed script to Burbank, where it was returned as "rejected" by an unknown executive at the Disney studios. Nevertheless, Tytle brought the script to Disney staying at the Connaught in London. Disney approved for the draft, but recommended additional cuts which were made by February 1963. Before filming was to commence, Rowe wrote a letter to Disney addressing his displeasure of the script revisions, in which Tytle responded to Rowe that the changes Disney approved of would be kept. However, by summer 1963, the project was shelved, where Tytle, in a discussion with Walt, recommended to produce The Aristocats as an animated feature.For that reason, Disney temporarily shelved the project as the animation department was occupied with The Jungle Book . Meanwhile, director Wolfgang Reitherman learned of the project and suggested it as a follow-up project to Jungle Book. Because of the production delays, Tytle was advised to centralize his efforts on live action projects and was replaced by Winston Hibler.
In 1966, Disney assigned Ken Anderson to determine whether Aristocats would be suitable for an animated feature. With occasional guidance from Reitherman, Anderson worked from scratch and simplified the two stories into a story that focused more on the cats.Disney saw the preliminary sketches and approved the project shortly before his death. After The Jungle Book was completed, the animation department began work on Aristocats. Hibler was eventually replaced by Reitherman, who would abandon the more emotional story of Duchess's obsession to find adopters befitting of her kittens' talents initially favored by Disney suggesting instead the film be conceived as an adventure comedy in the vein of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Furthermore, the character Elmira, the maid, who was intended to be voiced by Elsa Lanchester, was removed from the story placing Edgar as the central villain in order to better simplify the storyline.
As with The Jungle Book, the characters were patterned on the personalities of the voice actors.In 1966, Walt Disney contacted Phil Harris to improvise the script, and shortly after, he was cast to voice Thomas O'Malley. To differentiate the character from Baloo, Reitherman noted O'Malley was "more based on Clark Gable than Wallace Beery, who was partly the model for Baloo." Reitherman furthermore cast Eva Gabor as Duchess, remarking she had "the freshest femme voice we've ever had", and Sterling Holloway as Roquefort. Louis Armstrong was initially reported to voice Scat Cat, but he backed out of the project due to illness. Out of desperation, Scatman Crothers was hired to voice the character under the direction to imitate Armstrong. Pat Buttram and George Lindsey were cast as the farm dogs, which proved so popular with the filmmakers that another scene was included to have the dogs when Edgar returns to the farm to retrieve his displaced hat and umbrella.
Ken Anderson spent eighteen months developing the design of the characters.Five of Disney's legendary "Nine Old Men" worked on it, including the Disney crew that had been working 25 years on average.
The Aristocats was the last Disney animated feature Robert and Richard Sherman worked on as staff songwriters, growing frustrated by the management of the studio following Walt Disney's death. For the Disney studios, the Sherman Brothers completed their work before the release of Bedknobs and Broomsticks , but would return to the studio to compose songs for The Tigger Movie .
The brothers composed multiple songs, but only the title song and "Scales and Arpeggios" were included in the film.Desiring to capture the essence of France, the Sherman Brothers composed the song "The Aristocats". Disney film producer Bill Anderson would ask Maurice Chevalier to participate in the film. Following the suggestion, Richard Sherman imitated Chevalier's voice as he performed a demo for the song. Chevalier received the demo and was brought out of retirement to sing the song. Deleted songs that were intended for the film included "Pourquoi?" sung by Hermione Baddeley as Madame Bonfamille, its reprise, and "She Never Felt Alone" sung by Robie Lester as Marie. For the show-stopping number, the Sherman Brothers composed "Le Jazz Hot", but "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat", composed by Floyd Huddleston and Al Rinker, was used instead. Lastly, a villainous song was envisioned to be sung by Edgar and his assistant Elmira as a romantic duet, but the song was dropped when Elmira was removed from the story.
Another deleted song was for Thomas O'Malley titled "My Way's The Highway", but the filmmakers had Terry Gilkyson compose the eponymous song "Thomas O'Malley Cat". Gilkyson explained "It was the same song, but they orchestrated it twice. They used the simpler one, because they may have thought the other too elaborate or too hot. It was a jazz version with a full orchestra."
The instrumental music was composed by George Bruns, who drew from his background with jazz bands in the 1940s and decided to feature the accordion-like musette for French flavor.
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.
On August 21, 2015, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the film, a new soundtrack was released as part of Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection . The release includes the songs and score as used in the film, along with The Lost Chords of the Aristocats (featuring songs written for the film but not used), and previously released album versions of the songs as bonus tracks.
The Aristocats was originally released to theaters on December 24, 1970. It was re-released in theaters in 1980 and 1987.
It was released on VHS in Europe on January 1, 1990 and in the UK in 1995. It was first released on VHS in North America on April 24, 1996 as part of the Masterpiece Collection.
In January 2000, Walt Disney Home Video launched the Gold Classic Collection, and The Aristocats was released on VHS and DVD on April 4, 2000.The DVD contained the film in its 1.33:1 aspect ratio enhanced with Dolby 2.0 surround sound. The Gold Collection release was 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 on Blu-ray for the first time on August 21, 2012.The 2-disc Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD combo (both in Blu-ray and DVD packaging) featured a new digital transfer and new bonus material. A single disc DVD edition was also released on the same day.
The Aristocats was released in December 1970 where it earned $10.1 million in United States and Canadian rentals by the end of 1971.The film was the most popular "general release" movie at the British box office in 1971. The film was the most popular film in France in 1971 and had total admissions of 12.7 million. It is also ranked as the eighteenth highest-grossing of all time in France. The film is the most popular film released in Germany in 1971 with admissions of 11.3 million being the country's eleventh highest-grossing film. By the end of its initial theatrical run, the film had earned domestic rentals of $11 million and $17 million in foreign countries, for a worldwide rental of $28 million.
The film was re-released to theaters in the United States on December 19, 1980 where it grossed an additional $18 million and again on April 10, 1987 where it grossed $17 million.The film grossed $32 million worldwide from an international re-release in 1994. The Aristocats has had a lifetime gross of $55.7 million in the United States and Canada, and its total lifetime worldwide box office gross is $191 million.
Howard Thompson of The New York Times praised the film as "grand fun all the way, nicely flavored with tunes, and topped with one of the funniest jam sessions ever by a bunch of scraggly Bohemians headed by one Scat Cat."Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times , awarded the film three stars out of four summarizing The Aristocats as "light and pleasant and funny, the characterization is strong, and the voices of Phil Harris (O'Malley the Alley Cat) and Eva Gabor (Duchess, the mother cat) are charming in their absolute rightness." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "has a gentle good-natured charm which will delight the small-fry and their elders alike." He praised the animation, but remarked that the film "lacks a certain kind of vigor, boldness and dash, a kind of a hard-focused emphasis which you would say was a Disney trademark." Variety praised the film writing the film is "[h]elped immeasurably by the voices of Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers and others, plus some outstanding animation, songs, sentiment, some excellent dialog and even a touch of psychedelia." Stefan Kanfer, reviewing for Time , noted that "The melodies in Disney's earlier efforts have been richer. But for integration of music, comedy and plot, The Aristocats has no rivals."
For its 1987 re-release, animation historian Charles Solomon expressed criticism for its episodic plot, anachronisms, and borrowed plot elements from earlier Disney animated features, but nevertheless wrote "[b]ut even at their least original, the Disney artists provide better animation--and more entertainment--than the recent animated features hawking The Care Bears , Rainbow Brite and Transformers ." 's Baloo, dismissing the character Thomas O'Malley as "essentially the same character, dictated by the same voice personality."Writing in his book The Disney Films, Disney historian and film critic Leonard Maltin wrote that "[t]he worst that one could say of The AristoCats is that it is unmemorable. It's smoothly executed, of course, and enjoyable, but neither its superficial story nor its characters have any resonance." Additionally, in his book Of Mice and Magic, Maltin criticized the film for re-using Phil Harris to replicate The Jungle Book
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received a 66% approval rating with an average rating of 5.9/10 based on 32 reviews. Its consensus states "Though The Aristocats is a mostly middling effort for Disney, it is redeemed by terrific work from its voice cast and some jazzy tunes."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
In 2005, DisneyToon Studios originally planned to make a follow-up to the film, along with sequels to Chicken Little (2005) and Meet the Robinsons (2007).Originally intended to be a 2D animated feature, Disney executives decided to produce the film in computer animation in order to garner more interest. Additionally, the story was meant to center around Marie, Duchess's daughter, who becomes smitten by another kitten aboard a luxury cruise ship. However, she and her family must soon take on a jewel thief on the open seas. The project was canceled when John Lasseter was named Disney's new chief creative officer, in which he called off all future sequels DisneyToon had planned and instead make original productions or spin-offs.
Benjamin Sherman Crothers, known professionally as Scatman Crothers, was an American actor and musician. He played Louie the Garbage Man on the TV show Chico and the Man and Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). He was also a prolific voiceover actor who provided the voices of Meadowlark Lemon in the Harlem Globetrotters animated TV series, Jazz the Autobot in The Transformers and The Transformers: The Movie (1986), the title character in Hong Kong Phooey, and Scat Cat in the animated film The Aristocats (1970).
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wolfgang Reitherman, it was Disney's 17th animated feature film. The film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil ("deVille"), who wants to use their fur to make into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, set out to save their children from Cruella, in the process rescuing 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total of Dalmatians to 101.
The Rescuers is a 1977 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The 23rd Disney animated feature film, the film is about the Rescue Aid Society, an international mouse organization headquartered in New York City and shadowing the United Nations, dedicated to helping abduction victims around the world at large. Two of these mice, jittery janitor Bernard and his co-agent, the elegant Miss Bianca, set out to rescue Penny, an orphan girl being held prisoner in the Devil's Bayou by treasure huntress Madame Medusa. The film is based on a series of books by Margery Sharp, most notably The Rescuers (1959) and Miss Bianca (1962).
Cinderella is a 1950 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney and originally released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault, it is the 12th Disney animated feature film. The film was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, and Wilfred Jackson. Mack David, Jerry Livingston, and Al Hoffman wrote the songs, which include "Cinderella", "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes", "Sing Sweet Nightingale", "The Work Song", "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", and "So This is Love". It features the voices of Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Luis van Rooten, Don Barclay, Mike Douglas, William Phipps, and Lucille Bliss.
Franklin Rosborough "Frank" Thomas was an American animator and pianist. He was one of Walt Disney's leading team of animators known as the Nine Old Men.
The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on Rudyard Kipling's 1894 book of the same name, it is the 19th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.
The Jungle Book 2 is a 2003 animated film produced by the Australian office at DisneyToon Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Distribution. The theatrical version of the film was released in France on February 5, 2003, and released in the United States on February 14, 2003. The film is a sequel to Walt Disney's 1967 film The Jungle Book, and stars Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Mowgli and John Goodman as the voice of Baloo.
Alice in Wonderland is a 1951 American animated musical fantasy-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions and based on the Alice books by Lewis Carroll. The 13th release of Disney's animated features, the film premiered in London on July 26, 1951, and in New York City on July 28, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice, Sterling Holloway as the Cheshire Cat, Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Alice into an animated feature film during the 1930s, and he revived the idea in the 1940s. The film was originally intended to be a live-action/animated film; however, Disney decided to make it an all-animated feature in 1946.
Robin Hood is a 1973 American animated romantic musical comedy film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution. Produced and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it is the 21st Disney animated feature film. The story follows the adventures of Robin Hood, Little John, and the inhabitants of Nottingham as they fight against the excessive taxation of Prince John, and Robin Hood wins the hand of Maid Marian. The film features the voices of Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, Pat Buttram, Monica Evans, and Carole Shelley.
The Fox and the Hound is a 1981 American animated musical buddy drama film produced by Walt Disney Productions and loosely based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix. The 24th Disney animated feature film, the film tells the story of two unlikely friends, a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper, who struggle to preserve their friendship despite their emerging instincts and the surrounding social pressures demanding them to be adversaries. The film was directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens, and features the voices of Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Sandy Duncan, Jeanette Nolan, Pat Buttram, Dick Bakalyan, and Paul Winchell.
Fun and Fancy Free is a 1947 American animated musical fantasy package film produced by Walt Disney and released on September 27, 1947 by RKO Radio Pictures. It is the ninth Disney animated feature film and the fourth of the package films the studio produced in the 1940s in order to save money during World War II. The Disney package films of the late 1940s helped finance Cinderella (1950), and subsequent others, such as Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953).
Wolfgang Reitherman, also known and sometimes credited as Woolie Reitherman, was an American animator, director, and producer who was one of Disney's Nine Old Men.
Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney based on Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault. The 16th Disney animated feature film, it was released to theaters on January 29, 1959, by Buena Vista Distribution. This was the last Disney adaptation of a fairy tale for some years because of its initial mixed critical reception and underperformance at the box office; the studio did not return to the genre until 30 years later, after Walt Disney died in 1966, with the release of The Little Mermaid (1989).
Milton Erwin "Milt" Kahl was an American animator. He was one of Walt Disney's supervisory team of animators, known as Disney's Nine Old Men.
The Sword in the Stone is a 1963 American animated musical fantasy comedy film produced by Walt Disney and released by Buena Vista Distribution. The 18th Disney animated feature film, the film is based on the novel of the same name, which was first published in 1938 as a single novel. It was later republished in 1958 as the first book of T. H. White's tetralogy The Once and Future King. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, the film features the voices of Rickie Sorensen, Karl Swenson, Junius Matthews, Sebastian Cabot, Norman Alden, and Martha Wentworth.
1985 in animation events.
The year 1995 in animation involved some animation-related events.
Disney's Nine Old Men were Walt Disney Productions' core animators, some of whom later became directors, who created some of Disney's most famous animated cartoons, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs onward to The Rescuers, and were referred to as such by Walt Disney himself. They worked in both short films and feature films. Disney delegated more and more tasks to them in the animation department in the early 1950s when their interests expanded and diversified their scope. All members of the group are deceased. John Lounsbery was the first to die, in 1976 from heart failure, and the last survivor was Ollie Johnston, who died in 2008 from natural causes. All have been acknowledged as Disney Legends.
Events in 1986 in animation.
Events in 1961 in animation.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Aristocats|