LADY AND THE TRAMP – WALT DISNEY SIGNATURE COLLECTION (1955)
Featuring the voices of Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Peggy Lee, Bill Baucom, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton, Lee Millar, Alan Reed, George Givot, Dallas McKennon and The Mello Men.
Screenplay by Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright and Don DaGradi.
Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 76 minutes. Rated G.
The opening of Lady and the Tramp starts with this written introduction: “In the whole history of the world there is but one thing money can’t buy – to wit, the wag of a dog’s tail.” Josh Billings. So, to all dogs, be they LADIES or TRAMPS, that this picture is respectfully dedicated.
Dogs are endlessly fascinating and entertaining, and one of the main reasons that Lady and the Tramp has aged even better than many of the classic Walt Disney animated features is that it is not afraid to let all of its main characters just be dogs.
There is nothing complicated, or edgy, or taxing about Lady and the Tramp, and there never was supposed to be. It’s a simple tale of family, friendship and love, told with few frills and little fuss, a heartwarming and remarkably chaste romance and an exploration of the importance of finding your own place in the world.
Most of all, it is a love letter to man’s best friend.
Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) is a gorgeous cocker spaniel, doted upon by her human family, living in a spectacular home, with freedom and friends and a sweet, satisfied life. Tramp (Larry Roberts) is a mutt from the wrong side of the tracks (literally, he lives by a train station) who is happy with his life, surviving on his smarts and handouts from good-hearted townspeople.
His biggest problem is a dog catcher that he has been able to evade for years. Her biggest problem is that her human parents are having a baby and she is worried they will forget her.
Then they meet and there is an instinctive spark. (There is a reason that the spaghetti scene is still considered one of the iconic moments in movie history.) The problem is he likes his freedom, and she likes being settled in. When she gets temporarily tossed out into his world this pampered pet must come to terms with life on the street.
Even the dangers that intrude into Lady’s world – a jail-like dog pound, a glow-eyed rat, an evil aunt, a pair of Siamese cats – all seem like manageable problems. As a cat lover, I’m willing to overlook the fact that two of the villains here were Siamese cats, because that works in the spirit of the movie. (There is also just a hint of a broad Asian stereotype in those kitties that I will chalk up to the era the film was made.)
However, despite their respective backstories, they still act like dogs. And they are surrounded by a bunch of similarly adorable hounds, a Scottish Terrier (who of course, has a Scottish accent), an aging bloodhound, a boxer, a chihuahua, and a sultry Lhasa Apso voiced by singer Peggy Lee (who also sings the tune “He’s a Tramp” and co-wrote the rest of the songs here.)
The artwork is spectacularly evocative of England in the Victorian age – really, much of the background animation is so beautiful that it is suitable for framing.
Sure, 63 years on from its release, there are some parts of Lady and the Tramp that feel a little dated, but surprisingly few. Lady and the Tramp is definitely deserving of its spot high up in the Disney archives.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: February 26, 2018.