Lady and the Tramp
Lady and the Tramp
Review By: Staff
Lady and the Tramp
Spaghetti never looked this good.
That's not the tagline for Disney's classic 1955 film Lady and the Tramp, but it could have been; one of the actual taglines was "One of the Greatest Love Stories Ever Told,"Â and that seems good, too. If you are reading this and do not know how love and spaghetti converge in Lady and the Tramp, then I suggest that you either rent the film immediately or step off the face of the Earth. The film is being released now in a special-edition double-disc DVD and, as recently done with its DVD releases of Aladdin, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (among others), Disney has taken great pains and loving care to make sure that this "Platinum Edition"Â is worth seeking out.
Lady came about during the second great period of Disney animated features. Following the slam-dunk masterpieces Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio, Fantasia (both 1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942), Disney settled into making anthology features like Make Mine Music (1946) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947) "” film-length series of shorter cartoons connected by music and/or filler material "” before coming back out with strong story-driven films like Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Lady, arguably the best of the group.
Revisiting the film after many years, it is surprising to see both how complex the narrative is in such a short period of time (76 minutes) and how subtly it unfolds. A small Cocker Spaniel, Lady (voice of Barbara Luddy) is born to a suburban couple named Jim Dear and Darling (Peggy Lee, who also does three other voices and sings a few of the film's best songs). Time goes by until the humans have a baby, after which Lady gradually feels herself being pushed out until she literally is by a cranky old grandmother figure (Verna Felton). It is then that she falls under the spell of the Tramp (Larry Roberts), a wily, dashing figure forever on the run from the pound, and happiness ensues between the pair.
One of the fascinating things about the film, as noted on a "making-of"Â documentary on the second disc, is that it continues the Disney tradition of telling stories from the perspectives of children or childlike beings by keeping the camera rooted at a low horizontal level (Spielberg would do a similar thing in E.T.); we thus see everything from a dog's-eye point of view, even going so far, as with the adult humans in the old Peanuts cartoons, as to frequently being unable to see Jim Dear and Darling's faces. We thus watch everything along with naÃƒÂ¯ve little Lady.
An aspect of the film that does not hold up so well, however, is its frequent use of ethnic stereotypes in creating
With that being said, however, a great many of the film's characters are wonderfully strong and stay in the mind long after the film has concluded. There are Lady and the Tramp, of course, but there are their friends Peg (Lee), Jock (Bill Thompson) and my personal favorite, the little Scottish terrier Trusty (Bill Baucom). There is even a hilarious scene with a beaver (Stan Freberg).
The film is also astonishing at the visual level; Lady and the Tramp was one of the first animated films to be shot in widescreen, and the Disney animators pack their frames full of color and activity. There are at least three memorable chase sequences, along with one of the more romantic scenes in cinematic history, one that consists of little more than two dogs eating pasta at a restaurant.
And yes, the song "Bella Notte"Â really is that good.
First, as for the film transfer itself: Disney has taken very good care of its product, and the digital transfer that it's performed on the film almost makes the images pop off of the screen. The movie sounds great, too, adding up to a phenomenal job. The first disc also features coming attractions for several Disney releases and an option on the DVD that allows you either to go to a root menu or to watch everything on the DVD straight through.
The second disc is crammed with more than two hours of extra goodies, including two storyboard sequences for deleted scenes (one of which is a bizarre fantasy sequence wherein dogs walk humans), a making-of video for the Siamese cats song, a new "Bella Notte"Â music video with Steve Tyrell, a Disney trivia board game, a dog-themed personality test, and a short informational video on different kinds of dogs with Fred Willard yukking it up (at one point he calls a toy dog a mouse).
By far the most interesting facet of the disc is a nearly hour-long documentary that covers almost every aspect of the making of the film, from the initial planning (it was one of the first Disney cartoon features not based on a fairy tale or book) to the scriptwriting to the storyboard planning to selecting the voices to drawing the images to writing the songs. Along the way we get a surprisingly candid view of Walt Disney himself, as the documentary posits that the town in the movie was based on Disney's own hometown of Marceline, Missouri, and that the film
The disc also features a storyboard featurette, the original storyboard version of the movie, photo galleries and six minutes of trailers. All in all, not bad.
Movie Grade: B+
DVD Features Grade: A+
Overall Grade: A