(1990, US, 81 min) Dir Art Stevens, Ron Clements. Cast Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds, Freddie Jones.
Originally intended for cinema release in 1984, The Velvet Paw was shelved by Disney for unknown reasons and then, following the disappointing box office of The Black Cauldron, it remained on the shelf, not being released until 1990 and then going straight to video. With all of this The Velvet Paw has been perhaps unjustly forgotten – it’s certainly stands up better than some of it’s pre-Disney Renaissance contemporaries. The titular Velvet Paw is a jewel thief in a 1920’s Paris populated by anthropomorphic animals who is being hunted by the inept Detective Copper (a bloodhound of course, voiced by Jones) and is, in reality, sophisticated high society rag doll Lady Fluffington (the appropriately husky Turner, recorded prior to Jessica Rabbit). Into her life comes streetwise con artist Max (Reynolds) to sweep her off her feet. Will she give away her secret to Max? Is he only in it for the money? The time and the place are well evoked (down to a bear Hemingway and a fox Scott Fitzgerald) with a couple of choice ragtime numbers in the place of the usual treacley Disney tunes. Throw in a couple of exciting jewel heists and a moonlit rooftop chase and you have enough to distract from the muddled pacing of the rest of the film.