/ Articles / Retro rewind: ‘The Aristocats’ delights with its story

Retro rewind: ‘The Aristocats’ delights with its story

April 19, 2020 by Brett LaBore

In uncertain times in the history of Walt Disney animation, one movie that stands out to me in the 1970s is “The Aristocats.”

“The Aristocats” came to theaters on Dec. 11, 1970 and featured the voices of Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Hermione Baddeley, Gary Dubin, Liz English and Dean Clark. 

Madame loves her four cats and wants to give them her fortune when she passes away. When the butler hears of her plans, he takes matters into his own hands and gets rid of Madame’s beloved cats. Duchess and her kittens join this cat named Thomas O’Malley to find their way back.

Later this year, “The Aristocats” will celebrate its 50th anniversary. This was the first movie produced after Walt Disney’s death in 1966.

I recently saw this movie for the first time ever a couple months ago. Not considered a true Disney classic, I didn’t know what to expect. 

I think this is a movie with a lot of personality and I liked it a lot. There’s a ton of charm and joy embedded in “The Aristocats.”

It all starts with the voice cast. I absolutely loved the voice of Gabor as Duchess, the mother of three kittens named Toulouse, Marie and Berlioz. Duchess has so much style, elegance and charm and Gabor presents that through her voice work. She was my favorite character in the movie.

Harris has done the voice of other Disney characters such as Baloo in “The Jungle Book” and Little John in “Robin Hood.” I love his work and he brought it again as this crazy, stray cat O’Malley. O’Malley was super fun with tons of charisma, all thanks to Harris.

What I love about Disney movies is the magic within them. There is magic in “The Aristocats” and it all starts with the relationship between Duchess and O’Malley.

As Duchess makes her way back home with O’Malley, they both start to fall for each other. Eventually they are sitting together under the stars with the Eiffel Tower and Paris in the background. It’s very romantic and one of my favorite elements of the movie.

The music is also something that surprised me in a good way. It’s jazzy, catchy and had that charm again. One of my favorite songs is “Scales and Arpeggios” sung by Duchess and her kittens. It’s not a huge, big number, but sweet and relaxing.

Another song I like is “Thomas O’Malley Cat” sung by Harris. It’s chill and upbeat and full of fun. 

Finally, the hit song that everybody knows from this movie, “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat,” is entertaining, fast and fun. There are a bunch of cats just dancing and chilling to music while playing instruments. 

That’s where this movie excels — fast paced and/or catchy musical numbers with charming characters.

The few knocks I do have are some characters are too over-the-top. There are two dogs named Napoleon and Lafayette that didn’t work for me. And there were two geese that were a bit too silly for me. 

Other than that, “The Aristocats” had the elegance, charm and storytelling with just a touch of magic that Walt Disney provided for so many years.

Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected]

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