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(Special Edition)

Since it was the first to go into production after the passing of Walt, THE ARISTOCATS ($30) has a unique distinction amongst Disney animated films… a distinction which may explain why the movie didn’t hit a home run creatively. From where this reviewer sits, the songs in THE ARISTOCATS aren’t particularly memorable, plus the story seems all too familiar. THE ARISTOCATS is stylistically similar to Disney’s earlier 101 DALMATIANS, not to mention thematically, with its animal protagonists on the run from a human villain. And if you look closely at the plotting, one will notice there are bits of LADY AND THE TRAMP thrown in for good measure. Despite its flaws, THE ARISTOCATS remains animated charmer, with plenty of funny moments that are certain to appeal to the kiddies.

Set in Paris of 1910, THE ARISTOCATS tells of an aging actress who changes her will to leaver her wealth to her cat Duchess and her three young kittens. Edgar, the Butler is slated to inherit the estate after the passing of the cats, but his greed makes him unwilling to wait for the four cats to use up all of their nine lives. This leads our less than respectable manservant to drug the cats and take them off to the country, where he hopes to dispatch them. Fortunately, a couple of hound dogs intercede for their own purposes, which saves our four felines from harm. While out in the country, Duchess and her kittens encounter a footloose stray named Thomas O'Malley, who aids them return on their return trip to Paris. The vocal talent behind THE ARISTOCATS features Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Liz English, Gary Dubin, Dean Clark, Sterling Holloway, Roddy Maude-Roxby, Scatman Crothers, Paul Winchell, Lord Tim Hudson, Vito Scotti, Thurl Ravenscroft, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Hermione Baddeley, Charles Lane, Monica Evans, Carole Shelley and Nancy Kulp.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment has made THE ARISTOCATS available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a really sweet looking presentation, that won’t give anyone any cause for complaints. The image appears crisp and cleanly defined. Colors are stable and create an accurate representation of the largely pastel color palette. Blacks are deep, whites are pure and contrast is fine. Film grain is fairly mild and the elements from which the feature has been transferred are relatively free from blemishes. Digital compression artifacts are nicely concealed.

THE ARISTOCATS comes with new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix. Considering that this is a 1970 production, the soundtrack is really quite pleasing, for its age. Sure, this isn’t the most active 5.1 channel soundtrack, but there is a decent spread of music and occasional sound effects. Fidelity is pretty nice, but the extreme ends of the spectrum don’t compare to modern movies. The music holds up well enough and is rather pleasant sounding. Dialogue is clean and totally understandable. Almost all of the background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process. French and Spanish 5.1 channel tracks are also present, as are English subtitles.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental features. Starting things off is a Deleted Song- She Never Felt Alone. The Sherman Brothers: The Aristocats Of Disney Songs focuses on the composers. The Great Cat Family is a feline related program from THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY. The Aristocats Scrapbook offers a Gallery of production art. Bath Day is a bonus Animated Short. For the kiddies, there are some interactive materials- a Virtual Kitten and Fun With Language.

Even if it isn’t the greatest classic in the studio vaults, THE ARISTOCATS is a fun Disney animated offering. Disney’s DVD looks and sounds pretty great.



The Aristocats (Special Edition) (1970)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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