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Edgar Balthazar

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Edgar Balthazar is the main antagonist in Disney's 1970 animated feature film, The Aristocats.

Background

Edgar is portrayed as a polite and sophisticated butler, yet underneath his exterior belies a scheming, greedy, impatient man (though this attitude only sparks because Madame Bonfamille's fortune is mentioned; otherwise, he would have willingly remained loyal to his mistress, thus eliminating his antagonist role).

While greedy, Edgar does not seem to be cruel. It would have been easy for him to just kill Duchess and her kittens, but instead, he chose to kidnap them and release them into the wild; and when that didn't work, he decided to send them to Timbuktu, as well as when he fought Thomas O'Malley with a pitchfork, he used it to restrain the cat rather than kill him. He clearly has some better sense of morality than villains like Cruella De Vil and is more clumsy than he is villainous, as evidenced from his bumbling antics, from clumsily riding his motorcycle into the subway by mistake to stumbling over a trash can, getting in comical situations involving Napoleon and Lafayette (two farm dogs) attacking him to mistaking a tree branch for a gun to his back.

Edgar doesn't seem to be very intelligent either. He seems to take the expression that cats have nine lives literally, explaining his belief that he'd be dead by the time the cats pass away. He also doesn't seem to realize that even if Duchess and her kittens outlive him, he'll still have control over their inherited wealth, since, as cats, they obviously can't use money by themselves. However, one explanation may be that Edgar might have had to use some of the money on the cats, when he really just wants it all for himself.

Role in the film

Edgar starts off as Madame Adelaide's faithful butler, yet upon overhearing that she plans to leave her entire estate and fortune to her cats and then to Edgar himself after they die, he begins scheming to get rid of them, erroneously calculating that by the time the cats pass away (as he believed that the cats literally possess nine lives), he will already have died of old age (unaware that he, of course, will be kept in charge of the fortune). He mixes sleeping pills with the cats' milk that afternoon, and nearly tasted the milk before realizing the better of it. Once the cats are all asleep, Edgar sneaks them out the mansion and drives out into the countryside to get rid of them. His plan is foiled by the farm dogs, Napoleon and Lafayette, when they spot the butler and begin their pastime of chasing. Desperate to escape alive, Edgar is forced to leave his umbrella, bowler hat, shoes, basket and sidecar behind at the farm. He also loses the basket holding the kittens by the riverside, but doesn't notice the loss until he returns to the mansion.

The next morning, everyone in the mansion is distraught at the cats' disappearance. Edgar's the only resident of the mansion feeling pleased, much to the surprise of Roquefort and Frou-Frou. Unaware that Frou-Frou's an intelligent horse, Edgar enters the stable and in his overconfidence, reveals his wrongdoings through the newspaper detailing the kidnapping. His happiness is cut short when he suddenly remembers that his hat, basket, umbrella and motorcycle sidecar was left at the farm by him, and they would, in fact, implicate him in the crime, and hurries to retrieve them before the police do. That night, after another fight with Napoleon and Lafayette, who had made beds and other things out of the stuff, Edgar escapes with his things with the use of a fishing rod, thereby eliminating all evidence of his crimes.

Edgar is once again feeling pleased with himself until the cats return home with help from an alley cat, Thomas O'Malley. Shocked but determined, Edgar traps them again, tying them up in a sack. After pretending to sympathize with Adelaide, he throws the cats in a trunk, and plans to send them to Timbuktu to ensure they will never return. Thomas and his alley cat friends intervene and engage Edgar in a brutal battle which culminates in Edgar ending up being tied down with Frou-Frou's horse collar, gagged with a bucket over his head, and knocked and locked in the trunk himself and getting sent to Timbuktu. As the delivery men load the trunk into the van, Edgar is seemingly unable to call for help as he is still gagged or dazed from the scuffle with the animals. Adelaide apparently never learns of Edgar's treachery, believing that he simply left on his own accord. She excludes him from her will, which implies that she had possibly decided to split the fortune between the cats and Edgar, which he never found out.

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Trivia

  • Other than singing "Rock-a-Bye, Baby" while drugging the cats' milk with Madame's sleeping pills, Edgar is one of the few Disney villains that does not have his own song.
  • Edgar is very similar to Warner Brothers villain Meowrice before him as they both live in France, both act as butlers although Meowrice actually looks like a butler because of his breed whilst Edgar's job is a butler. Similarly both even share the same fate as they are both locked in crates and sent to a foreign country (in Meowrice's case, he gets sent to America whilst Edgar gets sent to Timbuktu). They are also involved in kidnapping cats. Unlike Meowrice, however, Edgar worked alone.
  • Originally, Edgar was going to be accompanied by a scheming maid named Elvira, who was supposed to be his partner-in-crime.
  • Despite being one of Disney's more comic-relief villains, Edgar's fate would have been more or less ambiguous in real life. The fact that the trunk had no air holes nor food nor water may imply that the cats would starve/suffocate inside the trunk, and the same could happen to Edgar.
  • Originally, Edgar was actually going to succeed in defeating Thomas O'Malley and his alley cats and take the trunk away only to run into some policemen (contacted by Roquefort after seeing him plot to send the cats away), and being arrested.
  • While fantasizing about claiming Madame Adelaide's fortune, dollar signs appear in his eyes and float around his head, and he even says "All of them dollars," while the dollar has never been the currency of France (at the time it was the CFP franc, better known as the French Franc, and is currently the Euro). A possible explanation is that he would plan to live in America after inheriting the fortune and thus turn the Francs into dollars.
  • Edgar is credited as "Butler" in the credits.
  • In some books based on the movie, Edgar is fired instead of being shipped off to Timbuktu.


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