So now that I’ve finally watched Lady and the Tramp, I can say that I’ve seen all of Disney’s first 20 animated features, and every animated feature they released up to the year 1970. Going into this movie, the only thing I knew about it was the famous spaghetti kiss scene. Apart from how I’ve heard a lot of good things about this movie over the years, I went into this with no expectations.
Unlike many of the early Disney movies, Walt Disney had nothing to do with the initial inception of this 1955 release. Instead, story man Joe Grant first came up with the idea in 1937, not long after Snow White released. His original idea was about an English Springer Spaniel lady who was shoved aside by her owner after his son was born. Part of that story is still in this movie, but it’s more complex and contains a lot more action than Grant’s initial idea. Aunt Sarah, who kind of serves as the movie’s antagonist, is also softened down from the original concept. More on her later. Like Bambi, Disney’s animation team studied how animals move a lot in preparation for this movie, and it really shows. Every dog movement in this movie feels natural, right down to the way their ears move.
Lady and the Tramp’s initial release brought in more money than any Disney movie since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It received generally positive reviews, and is now generally recognized as an all-time classic. The spaghetti scene I mentioned earlier is considered one of the most iconic romantic moments in cinematic history, with plenty of references and parodies over the years. The American Film Institute mentioned Lady and the Tramp in their 100 best romantic films of all time. Not bad for a movie that’s ultimately about dogs.
First off, the dogs in this movie are very well-written. They’re shown with dog-like behaviors, especially their sense of loyalty and how they need to feel like they’re loved. They do talk, but only when people are not around. They’re intelligence is exaggerated, but not to the point where they don’t feel like dogs. It’s a fun way of showing that dogs are more intelligent than a lot of non-dog owners realize. Lady is an English Springer Spaniel living in a mansion, with a couple other dogs in the neighborhood. She’s well trained … mostly, and she’s clearly fed quality food and well groomed. Tramp on the other hand is a stray dog with his hair all over the place, but he prefers the street life and he’s very self-reliant.
Lady is kind of ignored during her human mother’s pregnancy, but her owners show that they still care about her. The moment where the parents and the dog look at the young baby is a special moment where the four of them all feel like a family. However when the owners go on some sort of trip, bringing in Aunt Sarah to take care of the place, Sarah clearly doesn’t trust dogs all that much. She clearly prefers her cats, which hilariously cause trouble and show how selfish and devious cats can be.
The love story between Lady and Tramp is the kind that’s been told a number of times before. One half of the couple comes from a high class upbringing, while the other lives a much rougher life. It’s the kind of love story that can be told in a whole bunch of ways however, and telling it from the perspective of two dogs is kind of brilliant. Lady is able to show Tramp what it means to be loyal, while Tramp helps Lady survive on the streets after Aunt Sarah unintentionally lets her loose in the city. There are a couple good action scenes with some genuine tension, especially the climax at the end, which I won’t spoil. There’s a moment where you’re actually worried that one of the supporting dog characters is seriously hurt.
Compared to movies like Peter Pan and Alice In Wonderland that use creative visual styles, the animation in this movie is a lot more traditional and detailed. Most of the environments are flat drawings that show things like individual bricks in buildings and signs above business entrances. The weather comes into play as well, like snow blowing through the front door during a blizzard, wet streets after a rainstorm and the long shadows at sunrise and sunset.
There aren’t as many songs in this movie as most of Disney’s previous movies, which leaves more room to focus on the plot. What is there feels pretty timeless. The cats sing kind of an Egyptian style song with their meows playing into their lyrics, and the spaghetti scene includes traditional Italian music from the restaurant staff. There’s also a sad song a bunch of dogs sing when they’re in the pound. It’s good, but of the three it’s my least favourite.
In case you haven’t realized it yet, I really enjoyed this movie. At the moment I can’t really think of any noticeable flaws. It’s a unique take on romance that’s worth a watch for fans of the genre, and it’s also an easy recommendation for dog lovers. Kids will probably enjoy watching an adventure featuring a variety of animals. I’m not really sure who else would enjoy this movie but if it sounds interesting, be sure to check it out.
Next up is Sleeping Beauty, which I’ve only ever watched once before. It’s been so long that I don’t remember how I felt about it, except that I’ve been interested in seeing it again for a while. After that, it’s 101 Dalmatians, The Sword and the Stone and The Jungle Book. I haven’t seen 101 Dalmatians or The Sword and the Stone since I was a kid either. Also I’m enjoying using gifs in these posts, so I’m probably going to use them all the time from now on.