The twentieth animated film in the Disney movie list, The Aristocats had the distinction of getting the final film to obtain Walt Disney’s private seal of approval. It was originally intended to be screened in two installments on television, but was swiftly promoted to feature status. It must be noted that the simple premise of the film, an animated comedy about cats in France, named Gay Purr-ee had been developed in 1962 by UPA Studios. Of course, Disney secured the rights and pressed on, undaunted.
Set in Paris, The Aristocats follows the misfortunes of Duchess, voiced by Eva Gabor, and her 3 kittens. As the pampered residence cat of Madame Bonfamille, a retired opera star, Duchess and her offspring are named heirs to the diva’s fortune. Outraged, her butler, Edgar, voiced by Roddy Maude-Roxby, is charged with taking care of the cats till their death, at which point he will inherit the fortune. Blinded by greed, Edgar grabs Duchess and her litter and tries to drown them in a country swamp. Of course, his plan is foiled and the cats reside to see meet the cat, Thomas O’Malley, voiced famously by Phil Harris.
A rascal of the first order, O’Malley escorts Duchess back to Paris, exactly where we meet Scat Cat and his gang of alley cats. Scat Cat was initially intended as a vehicle for Louis Armstrong. Certainly, even the mannerisms and general appear of the character was modeled on Armstrong. For an unknown private reason, Armstrong quit the film at the last minute, forcing Disney to hire Scatman Crothers to fill in.
The story continues with Duchess returning to Madame Bonfamille’s house, only to be nabbed by Edgar once more. A scuffle ensues, involving O’Malley, Scat Cat’s gang, Edgar the Butler, and Roquefort the residence mouse, voiced by Sterling Holloway. Soon the cats are triumphant, with Edgar sent running for his life. All is nicely once more as Duchess and her kittens are welcomed residence, along with O’Malley.
When it as released in 1970, the film enjoyed a decent run of excellent reviews. The animation, for the time, was deemed cutting-edge. Moreover, it was a fairly effective film, enjoying a tremendous amount of home rental revenues. It was officially released on VHS, in the United States and Canada, in 1996. The Gold Collection DVD was released in 2000. A new single-disc Unique Edition DVD was released on February five, 2008. The Blu Ray edition is nonetheless in the operates.