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“Aristocats” pencil test

Here’s something I haven’t seen before (pardon me if I skipped the Special Edition DVD): an early pencil test sequence from Disney’s The Aristocats (1970) posted on Andreas Deja’s blog. Andreas has (as usual) some interesting observations about the animation by Milt Kahl and Ollie Johnston. Apparently Milt wanted O’Malley to be thinner, while Ollie drew him heavier. Note Milt’s animation at the beginning, which recalls Shere Kahn, followed by Ollie’s slightly chubbier version. Neat stuff:

(Thanks, Ben Price)

  • William

    It’s almost like they were reminded that Phil Harris was voicing O’Malley, and switched up from Shere Kahn to Baloo midstream.

  • Man, those two guys always seem to make me want to quit and never quit all at the same time. Damn that stuffs great. Great Morning Post, thanks!

  • AWESOME! This was definitely one of my favorite movies as a kid. Actually it’s still one of my favorite Disney movies xD

  • KatellaGate

    I’ve only seen the Aristocats once or twice in my life, so I don’t have an in-built preference for the final version, but I think Ollie’s work is more appropriate for the film.

    Milt’s version is a little too predatory.

  • Eddy

    Where are the animation wipes? Why don’t characters zip into poses? Why does the weight of each character feel different? Shouldn’t they all move the same? Why is the scene so quiet? What’s with all this character developement? Didn’t those animators know anything about cookie cutter animation?!!!

  • Clint H

    Great find! While Milt’s O’Malley definately looks predatory as KatellaGate siad, it kinda suits him as a scraggly alley cat, but the version we get is still good.

  • Alimator

    I prefer Ollie’s take.

  • Jason H

    Man they sure loved doing headshakes back then. (it’s still awesome as hell don’t kill me!)

  • orly

    The “fatter” cat looks more like a bear rather than a tomcat in the same general style as Duchess. Glad he didn’t look that way in the film(or did he?). The assistants really must have had a ball in cleanup.

    The animation on Marie is very cute and appealing. What unsung guy did that?

  • EHH

    I would have loved to have seen O’Malley with stripes. That being said, Milt’s version of the character looks like Shere Khan if he was transformed into a cat and it doesn’t help that when his complementing Duchess, his gestures come off like he is manipulating her for his own goals. Maybe if he was like that in the beginning and softened up by the end of the film, I could accept that. However, O’Malley is a selfless character through and through. I can understand why they went with Ollie’s version.

  • Nice! I prefer the chubbier O’Malley-makes more sense for the character.

  • SKent.

    Milt’s version is impressive, but exudes so much insincerity. Ollie goes for the important stuff. He gets just the right amount of warmth and charm in there.

  • Call me crazy but notice the amount of graphic detail on the nostrils on Milt’s version of Duchess. While on Ollie’s version it’s been reduced down to almost like a little valentine.

    Can we assume that Ollie was aware that level of detail was not going to make the final version and opted not to put it in….or was this a simple difference in the approach in the draftsmanship like with O’Malley?

  • Tony C

    I have yet so much still to learn :(

  • Frank Ziegler

    The Milt version is too creepy. As if he’s a villain.

  • Amy

    Horrible, boring cartoon–that Aristocats. Some nice bits of artwork here or there–but none of it matters because the film lacks a good story, storng storytelling, and strong characters. That Parmalee article sure applies to this lazy tripe.

    Fun to see the alternate work, though, even if it’s pure canned ham.

    • Jennifer

      You must be young, or I must be getting old. I miss movies that aren’t all action, action, action.

      • Amy

        Born in 1962. I don’ t mind films that aren’t all action. But I do mind when they are dull, and without wit or charm, as Aristocats is.

      • Jim

        I disagree. I like “The Aristocrats”. It may be far from the best Disney animated movie but there’s an innocence and, yes, charm to it that’s missing from movies nowadays. It reminds me of when Disney was Disney and the parks were actually fun to go to.

    • huston

      This chick doesn’t know where it’s at…

  • Tim Hodge

    I wonder how they took it when Woolie broke it to them that they couldn’t afford to do stripes on O’Malley. Was their artistic integrity offended, or was it relief?

  • anonymous

    I can’t stand Milt’s animation by this time in career. His characters are acting the same, using the same mannerisms and always the same [email protected]#king cheats! That bloody head shake!….. But such an incredible draftsman!

  • Fleischer Fan

    Nice to see the pencil tests – always interesting, but I agree with those who say this was one of Disney’s worst features.

  • Dougie

    O’Malley’s “Oh, how sweet!” line never fails to get a laugh when the film screens with an audience. By today’s acting standards it seems underplayed but not in context.

  • A couple of little factoids:

    In the brief non-animated section, Duchess is voiced by Robie Lester, who sang for Eva Gabor in The Aristocats and The Rescuers. Presuably she did the initial scratch track voice work.

    Also, the song that preceded this moment in the film, “Thomas O’Malley Cat” by Terry Gilkyson, was not the original choice for the sequence — it was a Sherman song called “My Way’s the Highway” by the Sherman Brothers. Though their song was not in the film, they rewrote it as “I’ll Fly the Sky Way” and it was included on “The Orange Bird” record album.

  • Another fact: I can’t spell “presumably.”

  • Scarabim

    Why, exactly, was Disney so in love with Phil Harris in those days? He was an okay voice actor, but to use him in THREE animated films in a row? I always thought that was very weird and highly uncalled-for. He voiced two bears and one cat, and in my opinion, that was one bear and one cat too many.

    • Amy

      He liked to drink with Woolie.

    • huston

      There are a couple of other reasons, having to do with “chicks” and Vegas, but mostly Phil was a hell of a voice character and ad-libber. And most of the animators and other voice performers were highly “square”, and many of those films wouldn’t have been nearly as hip without Phil, Prima and Scatman.

  • Keegan

    Milt’s version is best IMO. Ollie’s looks goofy.

  • I think Thomas O’Malley being heavy with strips would have made him look like Garfield.

    I still feel bad for Ollie for doing all that hard work just to get hit with redueing it again.