US, 1970, 78 minutes, Colour.
Voices: Eva Gabor, Phil Harris.
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman.
The Aristocats was the first animated film made by the studios after Walt Disney's death. It was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman who had made 101 Dalmatians, Jungle Book, and was to make Robin Hood and The Rescuers. The film is quite delightful and echoes 101 Dalmatians. The story is very simple - a greedy butler kidnaps cats and they find their way back to the city. The voices are excellent, especially Eva Gabor as the Duchess and Phil Harris - who was in the Jungle Book, as Thomas O' Malley Cat. There is some enjoyable comedy from two sisters - who are geese! The layout and design are quite attractive and there are some Sherman Brothers songs including the title song which is sung by Maurice Chevalier.
1. The perennial appeal of Walt Disney animation films? For adults, for children?
2. The Disney tradition of animation? Its development during the '60s and '70s? Drawing, humans, animals? Style and layout? Colour? The satire in the comedy? The use of characteristic voices? Songs?
3. The world of animals, especially cats? Their appeal to the audience? The humour of the comedy of the geese, the alley cats, the mouse and the horse?
4. The response to the basic plot: the cats as pampered pets, Madame and Edgar, Edgar and his greed and the kidnapping of the cats, the plight of the cats and their rescue, Duchess and her children, the dangers of the return? The comedy with Scat Cat and the alley cats? The vindication and the butler going to Africa?
5. The background of the humans: Madame and her love for her cats, the old lawyer and the comedy, Madame leaving everything to her cats? The picture of Edgar as the butler, his smooth surface, the reality of his indignation? His becoming the villain with the kidnapping of the cats, his motor bike? His come-uppance at the end and Frou Frou turning against him?
6. Duchess as the elegant and sweet cat? Her daughters? Their being victimised, left in the country? The encounter with Thomas O' Malley Cat? The dangers of the journey, especially the ride, the need for food, shelter, the bridge and the train, falling into the river, the rescue of Thomas O' Malley Cat? The Eva Gabor touch with Duchess?
7. Phil Harris' style as O' Malley Cat? Rough, American, genial, the helper?
8. The comedy with Scat Cat and the alley cats and their music? In Paris early in 1910?
9. The comedy with the Gabble sisters - particularly English, the comedy of their movement and talk? The encounter with their inebriate uncle? The friendship of the mouse and his help, his getting the alley cats to help? Frou Frou and her sympathetic understanding? Engaging animals for audience response?
10. Edgar's defeat and the happy ending? Thomas O' Malley Cat and Duchess and the happy future?
11. The contribution of the music, the lyrics?
12. Disney Studios relying on the perennial values of right and wrong, dangers, the human touch (even in animals!), the happy ending?