I read somewhere that "Lady" is currently the most common name given to female dogs. This is due, no doubt, to the continued popularity of Disney's 1955 cartoon, "Lady and the Tramp." In fact, our own sheltie is named Lady. The movie proves as endearing today as the first time it appeared so many years ago. Maybe not in the top echelon of Disney classics, "Lady and the Tramp" nevertheless deserves to rank high on anybody's list of favorite animated films.
It's the first half of the movie that gets to you. Lady is a beautiful, little, brown-and-white cocker spaniel raised from a puppy by an upper-middle-class couple at the turn of the twentieth century. Everything goes swimmingly for the family until an intruder shows up. Her masters have a baby, and Lady feels left out!
Further complications arise when a busybody aunt and her two fiendish cats ("We are Siamese, if you please") show up to baby-sit for a few days. Lady is driven out of the house and takes refuge with a charming rascal named Tramp, a stray who shows her a new world well outside her previously pampered existence. Needless to say, romance, as well as adventure, ensues.
The film's second half bogs down in too much chasing and running around, but the story is helped out immeasurably by its music and lyrics. The highlight is "Bella Notte," a lovely, mock-Neopolitan ballad. Other tunes include "Peace on Earth," "What Is A Baby?," "The Siamese Cat Song," and "He's a Tramp."
Voices are provided by Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Bill Baucon, Stan Freberg, Alan Reed, Bill Thompson, and Verna Felton, with direction by Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, and Wilfred Jackson.
This was Disney's first animated release in CinemaScope, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment have preserved most of its widescreen aspect ratio. The colors are vibrant and well defined, important not only for the character realizations but for the backgrounds, which are sometimes as richly detailed as those in "Pinocchio," still the benchmark for such things.
The Dolby Digital stereo sound is adequate for the purpose, a bit on the soft side but better than being too bright or edgy as many fifties' soundtracks tend to be.
No bonus items to speak of, though. Disney and Buena Vista know a good thing when they've got it. Why spend extra money when people are going to buy the disc regardless?
"Lady and the Tramp" is one of Disney's sweetest, happiest, cuddliest concoctions. Its lovable characters, satisfying melodies, radiant colors, and widescreen panoramas place it firmly in the studio's upper tier of animated features, just THAT close to the top.