The Aristocats (1970)
This, of all things, was the last film approved by Walt Disney himself before his untimely death in 1966. Originally conceived as twin episodes of his prime time television series, Walt liked the story (by Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color writers Tom McGowan and Tom Rowe) so much he suggested it might work better as an animated feature. Even with more than two years work put into refining the storyline, the movie often feels worn and like a lesser version of better Disney films (101 Dalmatians specifically). The vocal performances by Phil Harris and Eva Gabor are aces, as are the songs by the Sherman Brothers (“Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” and “Thomas O’Malley Cat” are certifiable classics). But even the songs have a kind of bittersweet quality to them; this was the last film that the Sherman Brothers would work on for the company, finding the professional atmosphere at the studio toxic following Walt’s death. (They wouldn’t return until The Tigger Movie in 2000.) This was a period of listlessness and creative uneasiness and in The Aristocats … it shows.