The Aristocats

Disney's the Aristocats movie poster

Love blossoms between an aristocratic pet cat and a footloose alley-cat when an evil butler plots to destroy the pet and her children to keep her from inheriting her owner's fortune in the Disney classic, The Aristocats.

A Doting Pet Owner

Retired operatic soprano Madame Bonfamille (Hermione Baddeley) loves her well-bred and pampered cat Duchess (Eva Gabor) and three kittens, Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse. And Madame knows that she is getting on in years, so she summons her equally aged lawyer to arrange her will. Alas for Madame, her greedy butler Edgar (Roddy Madue-Roxby) knows how to eavesdrop very effectively, and he does not like what he overhears: Madame desires to leave her vast fortune to her cats during their lifetimes, and the residue of the estate will revert to her butler upon the deaths of the cats. A bit of shaky arithmetic convinces Edgar that he will never see a penny ... unless he takes matters into his own hands.

A Sinister Catnapping

On a dark and stormy night, the aristocats mysteriously disappear. Madame is heartbroken, and the other animals of the household -- Frou-Frou the horse and Roquefort the mouse -- are baffled, until the wicked Edgar boasts of his daring deed while he's in the stables one afternoon.

A Lovable Rake

While Madame weeps, Duchess and her children have awakened, not in their comfortable home but in a leaky basket deep in the French countryside. Determined to return to Paris and the beloved Madame, Duchess begins to gather her children and calm them for the journey. Along comes Thomas O'Malley, a free-wheeling alley cat with the Irish gift of silver speech, who offers to escort the beautiful Duchess back to her home.

A Band of Swingin' Cats

After many adventures, the five cats reach Paris, but it's far too late to go straight home. So O'Malley takes them to his "pad," where they find that a band of jazz-playing alley cats has dropped in. Scat Cat (Scatman Crothers) and his band introduce the classically-educated Duchess to jazz, leading to Berlioz's memorable observation, "It ain't Beethoven, but it sure bounces!"

A Happy Ending

Duchess and the kittens return home, and, after one last brouhaha, are joyfully reunited with Madame, who makes Thomas welcome, and surprises her lawyer with her newest bequest.

Memorable Aristocats Music

While not as well-known as the music from other Disney movies, the songs in The Aristocats are memorable and of equal quality with other Disney movies.

  • "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" is a wonderful celebration of the jazz music style.
  • "Scales and Arpeggios," the song from Marie's voice-lesson, has become a favourite with young voice students everywhere.
  • "The Aristocats," voiced by Maurice Chevalier, is a compelling and beautiful melody, made even more apropos to the story by Chevalier's French accent.

Interesting Trivia About The Aristocats

  • It was the twentieth full-length animated movie released by Walt Disney Studios.
  • It was the last movie approved by Walt Disney himself, and the first to be released by the studio after his death.
  • The Aristocats took four years and a staff of 250 people to create, with a budget of more than $4 million.
  • The movie was released on Christmas Eve in 1970.

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The Aristocats