The AristoCats: Special Edition (1970)
Deleted Scenes-Deleted Song :"She Never Felt Alone"
Featurette-The Sherman Brothers : The Aristocrats of Disney Songs
Featurette-The Great Cat Family : from 1956 Disneyland episode
Featurette-FIGARO cartoon : "Bath Day" 1946
CD-ROM-Two juvenile games, wallpaper, screensaver
Gallery-Photo-The Aristocrats Scrapbook of concept art.
|Year Of Production||1970|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Wolfgang Reitherman|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Lord Tim Hudson
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Greek Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)
Bulgarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Romanian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
When The Aristocats opened for Christmas 1970 the production had taken four years to complete at a cost of four million dollars and there were some clouds hanging over the future of Disney animation. The previous Disney animated feature had been The Jungle Book, the last production supervised by Walt Disney himself, and production costs on that feature had been heavy, mainly in relation to extensive re-editing. As a consequence The Aristocats, the last project chosen by Uncle Walt before his death, was pre-planned with meticulous care and caution. Perhaps this safe, unadventurous approach accounts for the fact that there is little Disney magic in The Aristocats, but despite some lukewarm reviews the movie grossed $10.1 million in its original US domestic release, and a further $16 million overseas. The commercial success of The Aristocats removed the clouds of doubt threatening the future of Disney animation.
The Aristocats is the story of a "catnapping", the victims being a mama cat, Duchess (Eva Gabor with vocals by Robie Lester) her three offspring, Toulouse (Gary Dubin), Berlioz (Dean Clark) and Marie (Liz English). These felines are the loved pets of Madame Bonfamille (Hermione Baddeley) and as such are the heirs to her fortune, much to the annoyance of the evil, greedy, old butler, Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby), who kidnaps them so that he can claim the inheritance for himself. His dastardly scheme backfires when the Aristocats are rescued by Thomas O'Malley (Phil Harris), a large ginger tom with a heart as big as his ego; a little mouse called Roquefort (Sterling Holloway) and a band of alley cats led by Scat Cat (Scatman Crothers). Also involved are a pair of hounds named Napoleon and Lafayette, Frou-Frou the mare (Nancy Culp) and a couple of delightful spinster geese, Agatha and Abigail. The plot moves quickly, leaving no time for youngsters to become restless. A wide variety of characters constantly weave in and out of the story and the musical numbers are terrific.
Many experienced members of the Disney team worked on The Arsitocats including composer George Bruns, and surviving members of the "Nine Old Men", writer Frank Thomas, directing animators Milt Kahl, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas and John Lounsbery, and character animator Eric Larson. Former animator, a team member since 1934's Funny Little Bunnies, Wolfgang Reitherman was director. Resident Disney composers The Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins) were commissioned to write three songs, all three still listed in the credits although only two made it to the completed film, the title song (Maurice Chevalier) , and the delightful Scales and Arpeggios (Duchess and the kittens). The lovely She Never Felt Alone was dropped, but can be heard in the bonus features on the disc. In addition Terry Gilkinson (Banana Boat Song) provided Thomas O'Malley Cat for Phil Harris, and Floyd Huddlestone and Al Rinker penned Everybody Wants to Be a Cat as a duet for Harris and Scatman Crothers. Chevalier's over the credits title song gets the movie off to a flying start. This legendary entertainer came out of retirement to record the song as his tribute to Walt Disney, and this recording is the last recorded performance made by Chevalier, who died in 1972. As often has been the case with Disney movies, the music is an integral part of the film, the "jazzier" sequences having been decided upon after the success of the music in The Jungle Book. It was Phil Harris's "hit" performance in that film that no doubt led to his voicing Thomas O'Malley. Phil Harris was always a personality distinguished by his gravelly "sleepy time down south" voice, which is, sadly, very wrong for the French setting of The Aristocats, so firmly established with the title song. Harris's "southerness" continues to grate through the film, especially as there is the distinct contrast with the heavily accented Eva Gabor. OK, the Gabor Sisters were Hungarian, but at least her voice is from the right continent. Normally accents don't bother me, but the juxtaposition of these two voices is just a bit too jarring.
There is a lot to enjoy in The Aristocats, even if it never comes near the heights of the earlier animated greats. The human characteristics of the animals are very cleverly conveyed, the highlight being the geese. The story is briskly handled by director Reitherman never dwelling too long on any sequence or character, and George Bruns' score complements the screen action quite vibrantly at times - again the goose sequence stands out. The kids audiences in the early 70s loved it, as I'm sure they still do today. It is only silly old grumps like me who recall the glories of the Disney past - and who have seen the glories that were yet to come. Still, this is good Disney entertainment and a surefire hit with the under tens.
There are six language tracks on this DVD. The default is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. In addition there are Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Russian, Greek, Hebrew, Bulgarian and Romanian.
The dialogue was centred, totally clear and understandable and there were no sync problems.
Little use was made of the surround speakers. I specifically listened for separation as a car drove off screen right, but all sound stayed centred.
However, good use is made of the surround system with the music in the film. From cute novelty songs, to jazzy combos and full orchestrated score, the music is a highlight of the film, and is beautifully reproduced making excellent use of separation between the front speakers. The songs, as well as the score by George Bruns are a pleasure to listen to with full, rich reproduction.
There is little activity for true subwoofer activity in the film, but one sequence that did stand out was when a threatening tram thunders across a bridge (37:30).
|Surround Channel Use|
Although this is a single disc "Special Edition" there is a generous number of extras on the disc, with a wide range of age appeal.
Music and More (10:25) :
This is a juke box of the songs from the film, with the option to select a title or "Play All". All are presented 16x9 and Dolby Digital 5.1 as in the film itself.
There is an option for lyrics "on" or "off" - "on" giving subtitles synchronised with the audio. The "tracks" are:
Scales and Arpeggios
Thomas O'Malley Cat
Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat
Games and Activities :
Disney Virtual Kitten : This is a simple but cute game designed for very young children. It involves "clicking" on one of the kittens in a basket, which you then adopt.
The player then responds to a visual cue telling you what the kitten's need is at that moment. Click on your response, and with ten correct
responses your kitten comes down to the screen and rubs against the screen to show its affection for you as a caring owner. A cute little game, which
has some embellishments in the DVD ROM version.
The Aristocats : This is a language vocabulary game, again designed for the very young. It involves clicking the picture of a musical instrument picture on screen after a visual and
Backstage Disney :
The Sherman Brothers : The Aristocats of Disney Songs : (4:24)
This featurette is presented 4:3 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
This short featurette gives some interesting background to the creation of the film, principally the story regarding Maurice Chevalier's participation.
The Aristocats Scrapbook :
This is a scrapbook of concept art from the film. There are 18 "pages", each with a few examples. Individual items can be selected and enlarged to full screen with great
quality and clarity
The Great Cat Family : (12.51)
This is a segment taken from Disneyland's The Wide World of Make Believe, originally telecast in September 1956. The quality is fairly grainy but the content, as was the norm for
the Disneyland series, is excellent.
Bath Day : (06:39)
This is a real gem. An original 1946 cartoon starring Figaro, the mischievous kitten from Pinocchio. In very good original condition and presented 1.33:1 full screen.
DVD ROM Extras:
Disney Virtual Kitten : Same game as above with minor embellishments - such as a printable adoption license.
Screensaver : Kittens make alternate crossings of screen.
Wallpaper : Movie themed similar to screensaver.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|