I’m not ashamed to say that I love watching animated features. Some people might say that it’s only for kids, but that’s not true. Otherwise, all those blogs wouldn’t be participating to One of My All-Time Favorite Cartoons Blogathon hosted by Movie Movie Blog Blog. And believe me, these articles are not written by five-years-old children! Cartoons can be appreciated by everybody. Some might be dedicated to a certain rank of age, animated films for adults only DO exist, but some others have no age ranking and can be appreciated by everybody. For this blogathon, I’ve decided to review an animated film that I love since I am a very young child: The Aristocats. It’s a movie I’ve seen so many times, and I still enjoyed watching my French version VHS copy. I know, I’ve told you that I always prefer to watch the original version of a film, but for animated films, I don’t really mind. And it takes place in Paris, so it doesn’t sound so inaccurate after all. 😉
The Aristocats was produced by Disney Studios and directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. It was based on a story by Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe. Even if Walt Disney was dead in 1970, this is the last Disney film from which the production was approved by the man himself. It also was the first movie to be produced after his death in 1966. It took four years. That’s another thing that amazed me with animated films, especially the old ones: it was a truly artistic work. The original cast regrouped the voices of Eva Gabor (Duchess), Phill Harris (Thomas O’Malley), Gary Dubin (Toulouse), Liz English (Marie), Dean Clark (Berlioz), Roddy Maude-Roxby (Edgar Balthazar), Scatman Crothers (Scat Cat), Sterling Holloway (Roquefort), Pat Buttram (Napoleon), George Lindsey (Lafayette), Hermione Baddeley (Madame Adelaide Bonfamille), Charles Lane (George Hautecourt), Nancy Kulp (Frou-Frou), Monica Evans (Abigail Gabble), Carole Shelley (Amelia Gabble) and Bill Thompson (Uncle Waldo). This film cost $4 M to produce and was a huge financial success earning almost $57M at the world box office.
Here are some members of the cast:
The story takes place in Paris in 1910. Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, a former opera singer, lives in a chic mansion with her butler, Edgar, and her four cats that she adores: Duchess (the mother) and her three kittens: Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz. One day, Monsieur George Hautecourt, her friend and lawyer, comes to her house to prepare her will. She declares that her fortune will go to her cats and then, when they’ll be dead, to Edgar. This one, who has heard the conversation, thanks to his speaking tube, is very jealous and wants to be the first one to inherit the money. So, during the night, he decides to get rid of the cats. He kidnaps them and goes to the French countryside with his motorcycle. There, he is attacked by two dogs, Napoleon and Lafayette, and the basket with the cats falls off the motorcycle. Later during the night, the cats wake up in this unknown place. Very worried, they wonder what will happen to them. Fortunately, the following morning, they meet Thomas O’Malley, an alley-cat who will help them find their way to Paris. On the road, always accompanied by O’Malley, they will make interesting encounters and face many challenges.
As this is an animated film, we can not really talk about the actors, but there’s a lot to say about the CHARACTERS. As a matter of fact, I think this is one of Disney films that has the most interesting characters. The variety is awesome and it’s quite hard to choose a favourite:
Duchess is the mother cat. She is pretty, with her white fur and she’s a devoted mother. She is kind and has a beautiful singing voice. She also loves her mistress, Madame Bonnefamille, as much as this one loves her.
Toulouse is the oldest kitten. He paints and wants to become an alley-cat. He’s very fond of Thomas O’Malley and looks like him.
Marie is the 2nd-born kitten. She’s coquette and snobbish. She often plays the damsels in distress. She looks a lot like her mother and has a great complicity with her. Marie has a romantic soul and she’s a dreamer.
Berlioz his the youngest kitten. He is shy, but a great pianist. I just love this scene where he is scared by a frog!
Thomas O’Malley is an alley-cat. He travels a lot. He falls in love with Duchess and becomes a father figure for the three kittens. He also has a great singing voice.
Edgar Balthazar is the butler. He is the bad one in this story, but also a very funny character (against his will). Among all Disney villains, he is my favourite one, especially because he is so ridiculous.
Madame Bonnefamille is an old lady who LOVES her cats. She is devastated when she discovers that they have disappeared. She is a good lady and has a great heart. She’s rich, but she’s not snobbish.
Georges Hautecourt is the lawyer and friend of Madame Bonnefamille. He’s a very dynamic little old man and a real joker. He likes to dance and cause a lot of troubles to Edgar. He is simply hilarious.
Scat Cat is Thomas’s best friend and the leader of a cat jazz-band (yes yes!). He plays the trumpet.
Roquefort is a little mouse and a friend of Duchess and her kitten. Those cats don’t eat mice! When he’ll discover that the cats have disappeared, he will try to find them, but without success, as he’s just a little mouse.
Abigail and Amelia Gabble are two geese and twin sisters. They came from England and are in France for a vacation. They’ll meet Duchess, Thomas and the kittens in the French countryside. I just love those two, with their British accent, they are just funny and adorable! Their entrance is unforgettable, especially due to the way they walk!
Uncle Waldo is the drunk uncle of Abigail and Amelia. Duchess and Thomas O’Malley seem to find him very amusing.
Lafayette and Napoleon are the two dogs who attack Edgar (twice). Napoleon is the chief. He can recognize any sort of vehicle or pair of shoes only with the sound they make.
Finally, Frou-Frou is Madame Bonnefamille’s house. Just like Roquefort and Madame, she is devastated when she learns that the cats have disappeared. Frou-Frou is very coquette and wears a little hat.
My favourite character might be George Hautecourt, but I’m not sure. It’s very hard to choose! And those little kittens, they are just so cute!
Who says Disney movie says songs. The songs in this film are all great and make us want to sing while watching the film. The theme song during the opening credits is sung by no one else than Maurice Chevalier! My favourite Disney song comes from this film: Everybody Wants to Be a Cat. During this scene, it’s a real party. I’m more used to the French version than the original English one, but both are good! Anyway, cats who dance, sing and play music, that’s something we can only see in films and that’s what makes this media so unique! I love the Italian cat in this scene, when he tries to seduce Duchess. The move he does with his eyebrows worth a million! This a truly entertaining jazz score.
The Aristocats is a movie with a ton of great scenes and memorable lines. There are also many little moments that make this film unforgettable. I can think of the way Edgar’s hat jumps on the top of his head when he is on his motorcycle, the way the geese sisters walk, George Hautecourt mimics, when the three kittens pretend they are a train, when Berlioz plays piano, when Marie and her mother sing together, when Toulouse imitates an alley-cat, when Toulouse paints, when the cats dance, Edgar’s stupid smile, when George Hautecourt dances with Madame, etc. These little moments are endless and create a great composition.
Before taking a look at some of my favourite scenes, here are some of my favourite lines:
1- Abigail Gabble: Your husband is very charming and very handsome.
Thomas O’Malley: Well, you see, I’m not exactly her husband.
Amelia Gabble: Exactly? Either you are or you’re not.
Thomas O’Malley: All right. I’m not.
Abigail Gabble, Amelia Gabble: Oh?
Amelia Gabble: He’s scandalous.
Abigail Gabble: Indeed
Amelia Gabble: He’s absolutely positively a reprobate.
Abigail Gabble: A roue.
Amelia Gabble: His eyes are too close together.
Abigail Gabble: Very shifty, too.
Amelia Gabble: And look at his crooked smile!
Abigail Gabble: His chin is very weak, too.
Amelia Gabble: Obviously a philanderer who trifles with unsuspecting women’s hearts.
Marie: How romantic.
2- Napoleon: [listening] You’re not gonna believe this, but it’s a one wheel haystack!
3- Thomas O’Malley: You know something? I like Uncle Waldo.
Duchesse: [laughs] Especially when he’s marinated.
4- Thomas O’Malley: Hiya, chicks.
[Abigail and Amelia Gabble laugh]
Abigail Gabble: We’re not chickens. We’re geese.
Thomas O’Malley: [sarcastically] No. I thought you were swans.
5- Georges Hautecourt: Come on, Edgar. Last one upstairs is a nincompoop.
Edgar: Could we take the elevator this time, sir?
Georges Hautecourt: That birdcage? Poppycock! Elevators are for old people. Whoops!
6- George Hautecourt: [Trips and almost falls] Whoops! Not as spry as I was when I was eighty.
7- Edgar: Morning, Frou-Frou, my pretty steed.
Edgar: Can you keep a secret?
Edgar: Of course you can.
Edgar: I’ve some news straight from the horse’s mouth. If you’ll pardon the expression, of course.
I’ll have to stop here because there are so many!
Except the “Everybody Want’s to Be a Cat” scene, another one I love is when George Hautecourt arrives at home and he is welcomed by the (poor) Edgar. I’ve told you he’s a dynamic little old man. Well, here is the proof. I’ve decided to share the French version because it’s the most complete one on YouTube (although some parts were cut). Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll laugh even if you don’t understand everything!
I want to show you this scene when Edgar is attacked by the dogs for this little detail I was talking about: the way his hat jump. I just think it’s a very clever visual gag! This scene also shows how much Edgar is ridiculous.
I couldn’t find a video of this scene, but another favourite of mine is when Toulouse paints a portrait that looks like Edgar. It’s a comic moment because it’s not a very flattering portrait!
Oh dear! I have too many things to say about this film! I just love it! I’m writing this and it makes me want to watch it again and again! I’ll finish by mentioning the beauty of the drawings in this film. Of course, those were all hand-made and that’s what I find impressive with the old animated features. What’s especially beautiful visually in this film are the images of Paris.
The Aristocats has been a favourite of mine since I was five years old or something like that. It will always have a special place in my heart. It’s such a fun and entertaining film! I don’t know if you’ve seen it or when was the last time, but make sure you watch it or re-watch it. It’s simply a MUST! This also makes me want to review more animated films!
A big thanks to Movie Movie Blog Blog for hosting such a fun blogathon! Take time to check the other entries:
One of my All-Time Favourite Cartoons Blogathon
See you soon!