My opinion right after watching movie
At first, I was thinking that this movie was not as bad as it was the last time I watched it but it just had a bunch of filler, but I slowly realized that this movie took so much from Lady and the Tramp and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. I am confused by the overall theme of the film, and what they were trying to get at. It is definitely one of the weaker movies for a reason.
Okay, so I barely found info on this. So this is the final project that Disney greenlit (though he did have old work that would be used for Robin Hood and The Rescuers, but years before those projects were greenlit). Disney would barely make it to the board meetings, and when he did, all he did was say yes or no. It took 4 years to make.
Apparently, Louis Armstrong was supposed to be in the film, but that was changed at last minute. The original draft involved Duchess giving off her 3 talented kids off to the best place in town, so they can be well taken care of and successful because of their talents, like a heartwarming film. This is also the third film in a row to be directed by Wolfgang Reitherman.
So we are in Paris 1910 and the movie starts with the retired opera singer Madame Adelaide Bonfamille (Hermoine Baddeley) taking a horse ride with her kittens. She arrives home to await for her lawyer to change her will. The lawyer (Charles Lane) arrives with some of the ugliest Xerography animation that I have seen. Her butler Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby) is overhearing the conversation about her putting her kittens first on the will, which makes him mad and sad.
So the kittens are fighting until Duchess (Eva Gabor) tells them they need to practice their skills. We get the song Scales and Arpeggios, which is decent enough. This scene does kind of drag, but I am assuming we are supposed to get to know the cats. Edgar sedates their milk with sleeping pills, and takes them out to the middle of the countryside in the middle of the night, when they are asleep.
We also get this long ass filler chase scene from these two random dogs chasing after Edgar, which gets old, very quickly. They are chasing him for absolutely no reason. We are over 20 minutes in, and the plot is just getting started, but stalled because of this filler scene. So Duchess and the kids are realizing that they are lost, and this scene is really nice in how it shows off her parenting skills.
So after he tries to hit on Duchess, he backs off because he realizes she has 3 kids and
is loose, has 3 baby daddies, is an escort. All jokes aside, she tells him to move it, and he decides to join her, thinking her kids are charming. He hijacks a car by hopping on the front window (then suddenly disappearing when the driver is cursing about the cat in the front window). They hop on, and he asks her to join him to live with him (pushy and clingy much), and she tells him no because she loves and is loyal to her master.
Edgar reads about himself on the newspaper and cackles about his crime, worrying all of the animals.
As Edgar rambles on and on, he realizes that he left the clue of his hat at the crime site, and needs to get it. He also tells the other animals that he was the kidnapper. WOW. Anyways, Marie (Liz English) needs to be saved AGAIN from falling down a train track (she fell out of the truck too) and Thomas goes to save her.
So we get the geese who adds absolutely nothing to the movie (Monica Evans and Carol Shelley). They see the cats, and talk about how O’Malley is handsome and charming, but when he tells her that he is not married to Duchess, they start dissing him. So they reach the town, and the geese’s drunk uncle (Bill Thompson) joins them. This is like a good 7 minutes of the movie. The animals are being overly cute for absolutely no reason too.
So they reach it to O’Malley’s pad, and his jazz friends are there, but Duchess insists that they stay there. Well, things soon gets turnt up and everyone is jamming to Everybody Wants to Be A Cat (with Duchess sneaking in some innuendo about turning her on). The cats soon leave, and the kids go to sleep. O’Malley and Duchess soon go outside to discuss them staying with him, but she refuses, as though she had fun, she is still loyal to her master; where could this be inspired from??????
So they soon return to the home to be captured and tied up by Edgar. Madame ran down because she heard them, but he tells her she is hallucinating. Roquefort (Sterling Holloway) runs around as the cats tell him to look for O Malley. He finds him and his cats, who run to the house to beat up Edgar.
So the characters? Ehh. They are not that memorable and they kind of just ramble on and on. The kids are kind of annoying and all they do is act cutesy, and it just comes off as annoying and it gets old. They either ranged from mediocre to unmemorable and pathetic.
The animation is just really scratchy, undetailed, and ugly. The pencil lines are so apparent in the movements (especially the humans), the backgrounds are the dullest yet, and the colorings could have been a lot better. The animation is not a good look.
The music in this film ranges from decent to good. Most of the songs do not really have much if any purpose to the plot of the story (even Everybody Wants to Be A Cat), and there is a jazzy tune to the score and the songs. The former is the only standout song, and the score is just decent.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on December 11th, 1970, it did….. alright. It was more popular in Britain than it was in the Western Hemisphere, but it did turn a profit. At this point in time of the history, most of their money were coming from Disneyland, and merchandise.
It has been re-released twice since its initial release; in 1980 and 1987. Today, it is one of the forgotten ones, and many people see it as the start of the Dark Age of WDAS, since most of it was done without Disney, and it was clear that they were losing direction. It is also seen as one of the weaker films in the canon.