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The directory Plots

McGowan Tom
and Rowe Tom

For Tracy Barnes, wherever she is today, and all those readers who feel kindly toward The Aristocats, here is my Christmas gift to you: The story of how The Aristocats,came to be. It is another story you will never hear on the extras of the DVD.

It all begins with a gentleman named Harry Tytle. Tytle spent 40 years at the Disney Studio, eventually becoming a producer on live-action films. He was well-liked and was close to Walt.

On December 9, 1961, Tytle was in London where Tom McGowan, who had directed some of the animal films for Wonderful World of Disney like The Hound Who Thought He Was a Raccoon (1963), lived with his family. Walt Disney was also in London at the time and suggested that Tytle make a deal with McGowan to find some animal stories for the Disney Studio.

McGowan also developed Born Free, which he offered to the Disney Studio and it was rejected. McGowan was the original director on that film, but left before the film was completed.

By the New Year, McGowan had found several stories. One was a childrens book about a mother cat and her kittens set in New York City. Tytle felt that a London location had added a significant element to the story of 101 Dalmatians and suggested setting the story of the cats in Paris.

McGowan and Tytle worked out a rough storyline, assuming it would be done in live-action and run as a two-part television show that could later be combined into a theatrical release just as previous two part episodes had been done.

Originally, the story revolved around two servants (a butler and a maid) who were in line to inherit a fortune of an eccentric mistress after the pet cats died and focused on their feeble and foolish attempts to eliminate the felines. Then there was an extended section of the mother cat hiding the kittens to keep them out of danger in a variety of different homes and locales around Paris, France.

The concept was that the live-action cats talked to each other, much like the popular Mr. Ed television program. Walt was all in favor of the animals talking as long as it was not in the presence of humans. He felt it helped develop the animals personalities and moved along the story line.

About two months later, when Tytle was in Rome supervising the shooting of Escapade in Florence (1962 starring Annette), McGowan brought him the story that had been written by Tom Rowe, an American writer then living in Paris. McGowan had paid for all of Rowes expenses out of his own pocket. Rowe had an interesting career as a writer from starting as a film reviewer for Variety and moving on to writing scripts for television shows like Fantasy Island to films like The Green Slime (1968) to Tarzan the Ape Man (1981). He was also a painter with several exhibitions in Paris.

Tytle and McGowan spent a few days making revisions to Rowes version. By August, they sent the completed script to Burbank, where it was returned as rejected by the Disney Studio.

However, this rejection did not come from Walt who had not seen the treatment but by underlings. Tytle was hesitant to contact Walt directly but that didnt stop McGowan who tracked Walt down in London and slipped the treatment into an envelope and delivered it to the front desk of the Conaught, the hotel where Walt was staying.

Walt liked the story and called McGowan at his home before McGowan had even returned from dropping off the envelope. Walt told McGowan that he would be seeing Tytle in Lisbon and they would go over the treatment. Tytle did meet with Walt in Lisbon and on the plane trip back to London, Walt told Tytle to buy the story, prepare it as a live-action feature that McGowan would direct and Tytle would produce.

Walt felt there was too much material in the script and suggested eliminating the musical kitten, as well as other cuts and revisions.

Beginning August 30, 1962, Tytle and McGowan worked for six straight days on working out a contract. The London Disney office actually amended the contract to cut McGowan in on any possible merchandising royalties. (This wasnt a problem when it was a live-action project. When it became an animation project, those rights were purchased back from McGowan.)

In January 1963, Tytle was in a London hospital for some surgery and during his recovery, he worked in his hospital room with McGowan and Rowe on revisions. The script was finally finished February 1, and Tytle returned to Burbank to begin preparations for shooting in Paris.

In June, Walt showed Tytle a letter from Rowe. Apparently the writer was unhappy with the revisions to the script and in particular with Tytle who he felt was a minion of Walts sent to corrupt the work. Walt, however, was happy with Tytles work and allowed Tytle to respond to the letter himself. Tytle informed Rowe that it was just a difference of opinion and was sorry about his feelings on the matter but that Walt liked the changes and they would remain.

For a variety of reasons, the Disney Studio shelved the story for awhile and McGowan attempted to buy back the rights from Disney but was refused.

Since stories for animated films were becoming more difficult to come by, Tytle, in a discussion with Walt, suggested The Aristocats might make a good Disney animated feature. The idea was run past Woolie Reitherman (who was then the supervising director on the animated features) and some of the key animators and they all agreed.

In August 1963, Walt asked for a copy of The Aristocats script and, two days later, Card Walker announced it would be the next animated feature. However work on the project didnt continue until May 1964.

Belgium, 2006, Aristocats

Fujeira, 1972, The Aristocats

Fujeira, 1972, A family breakfast

Fujeira, 1972, Madame Bonfamille

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess and Marie

Fujeira, 1972, Toulouse

Fujeira, 1972, Mr. Hautecourt

Fujeira, 1972, Mr. Hautecourt salute

Fujeira, 1972, The adventure of Edgar

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess meets O'Maley

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess and Marie

Fujeira, 1972, O'Malley protects family

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess saves Marie

Fujeira, 1972, Abigail and Amelia

Fujeira, 1972, Visiting Abigail

Fujeira, 1972, Edgar's boredom

Fujeira, 1972, Music cat

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess and Italian cat

Fujeira, 1972, Dutchess dances with O'Maley

Fujeira, 1972, Russian cat

Fujeira, 1972, Edgar's punishment

Grenada Grenadines, 1988, The Aristocats

Grenada Grenadines, 1988, The Aristocats

Grenada Grenadines, 1997, Mr. Hautecourt kissing cat's tail

Guyana, 1991, Disney Cartoons's Heroes

Japan, 2012, Disney Characters

Palau, 1996, Duchess, O'Malley and Marie

Palau, 1996, Duchess, O'Malley and Marie

Sierra Leone, 1991, Disney Cartoon characters


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