5 questions we still have for “The Aristocats”
Let’s just go ahead and say it: Disney has a lot of dog movies. From 101 Dalmatians to Lady and the Tramp to Bolt, and even the fact that one-third of the Sensational Six are dogs. We get it, Walt, you really liked dogs. And that’s cool, since Disney dogs are nothing if not memorable.
But what about the cats? Sure, The Lion King might feature good cats, but for the most part, cats are painted as villains in the Disney canon (e.g., Si and Am in Lady and the Tramp, Lucifer in Cinderella). Enter 1970’s The Aristocats, which did for felines what so many other Disney films did for canines.
And while this movie brought us great music and some of our favorite fictional cats of all time – including the flawless, sassy Marie – there are still some unanswered inquiries in our vault.
Why did Frou-Frou get totally shafted in the will?
At the beginning of the film, we learn that Madame Adelaide Bonfamille plans to leave her fortune to her cat Duchess and her adorable kittens, Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz. But she forgot to include another pretty important animal: Frou-Frou, the horse.
From what I can surmise, Frou-Frou is seriously important. While the cats sit around and take music lessons and paint and drink cream, Frou-Frou has to wear silly flowered hats and pull Madame Bonfamille’s carriage around. Luckily Frou-Frou doesn’t seem to mind, as she is one of the characters who helps the cats get back home, so hopefully they’re generous and share some of their future fortune with her. At least enough to give her a lifetime supply of sugar cubes.
Why didn’t Edgar just poison the cats instead of giving them sleeping pills?
So Edgar is obviously pretty ticked off that he is second to a group of cats to inherit his boss’ fortune. Which is understandable, considering he has probably served her for a while and is, you know, a human. So what does he do? Gives the cats sleeping pills and deposits them somewhere in the French countryside, hoping they’ll never find their way home to Paris.
As happy as I am as a cat and Disney lover that Edgar didn’t think to off them in a clever way, like maybe putting poison in their food, I’m wondering why he thought giving them sleeping pills and taking them somewhere remote was less suspicious and/or more likely to work.
Who was the kittens’ biological dad?
While Thomas O’Malley basically becomes the kittens’ adoptive father by the end of the movie, it’s never mentioned who their biological dad is. Was he a cat Madame Bonfamille had recently who passed away? Or did Duchess have another stray lover before O’Malley?
Also, how do the kittens all look so different? Marie’s white fur is obviously a result of her mother’s genes, but Toulouse and Berlioz give few clues as to what their father looked like. My guess is he was also a bad boy, given Duchess’ taste in men and the kittens’ adventurous spirits.
Did Duchess and Maid Marian go to the same dance school?
There have been many articles and videos pointing out the similarities between Duchess and Maid Marian, the latter of whom made her appearance in Robin Hood a few years later. So much of their animation is almost frame-for-frame the same, including their dance moves.
But did we ever think maybe this was on purpose and not simply the result of “lazy” animation? Maid Marian and Duchess could be distant cousins. They were both raised in a higher-class environment, so maybe they just went to the same school for manners and/or dance.
There are actually tons of similarities between these two movies, though, including voice actors (Phil Harris voiced both Thomas O’Malley Cat and Little John in Robin Hood, as well as Baloo in The Jungle Book; Pat Buttram lent his voice to Napoleon the dog in The Aristocats, and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood). The films also share some dialogue – like both Berlioz and Robin Hood’s little bunny Skippy referring to romance as “sissy stuff.” The more you know.
Will The Aristocats II ever come to fruition?
The Aristocats is one of the seemingly few classic Disney films not to get a theatrical or straight-to-video sequel. But what many don’t know is that there was supposed to be a The Aristocats II about 10 years ago, but it was cancelled for numerous reasons.
“To make a long story short, Aristocats 2 was eventually shelved because there was skepticism by the executives that it would find sufficient audience in an ever more competitive market,” animation director Tod Carter told Animated Views in 2008. “It’s one of those disappointing things that happen in the film business from time to time, but it may have been a wise call.”
Bummer, but maybe this story was simply meant to wrap up completely in 1970 (or, by the movie’s timeline, 1910). One thing’s for sure, though: If we ever do get a sequel to The Aristocats, all we ask is that Marie is still her fabulous self.