The AristoCats (1970)
“Meet the cats who know where it’s at…for fun, music and adventure!”
The AristoCats (1970)
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Cast: Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway
Synopsis: With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.
The first Disney movie to be made following the death of Uncle Walt, The AristoCats was also the last decent animated feature to come out of the studio until The Little Mermaid sparked a resurgence in the studio’s fortunes nearly two decades later. It’s not quite as good as the classics – and falls far short of its predecessor, The Jungle Book (1967) – but it retains a measure of the feel of a Disney movie, even though subtle differences in the style of animation are already apparent.
The story is based on the true account of a family of cats who inherited a fortune in France in 1910. Duchess (Eva Gabor – A New Kind of Love) and her three kittens are the beloved pets of a wealthy old woman who lives alone in a large mansion with her butler, Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby). When the old girl lets slip that Edgar will only inherit her fortune after Duchess and her brood have passed on, the formerly loyal butler decides to get the rid of the felines so that he can inherit as soon as the old girl dies. He abandons the family of cats in the countryside far from Paris, but with the help of a canny alley cat called O’Malley (Phil Harris – The Patsy, The Jungle Book) Duchess and her family begin the long trek back home.
The AristoCats is fairly typical Disney. It’s easy on the eyes and on the mind and follows a proven formula which the studio knew was guaranteed to enchant young children. Cuteness is provided not only by the three kittens, but their unlikely friend, a mouse who dresses in deerstalker and cape like Sherlock Holmes. O’Malley triggers memories of Baloo from The Jungle Book, thanks to the deep rich tones of Phil Harris, and the movie has some pleasing comic touches. The music is rather tame, though, with only the rip-snorting Everybody Wants to Be a Cat played by a swinging alley-cat jazz band standing out.
(Reviewed 28th June 2015)