When it comes to Disney’s pantheon of classic animated films, you have the standard group of masterpieces that are mentioned quite often, a class of film that includes “The Lion King,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and several more. Then there’s a slightly lesser category for those animated works that audiences remember fondly and are still rather enjoyable, but don’t quite stack up to the major players that Disney has delivered over the decades. This would include works like “Bambi,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and the most recent entry in the Signature Collection, “Lady and the Tramp.” Why does it end up here and not in the upper echelons of the masterpieces? Well, let’s go back and take a look at what this pooch-filled classic has to offer to find out.
The film begins with Jim Dear (Voice of Lee Millar) giving his wife Darling (Voice of Peggy Lee) a puppy, which they name Lady (Voice of Barbara Luddy). After six months, they give Lady a new collar and license, which she immediately shows to her friends Jock (Voice of Bill Thompson) and Trusty (Voice of Bill Baucom), but soon she finds the attention of her owners waning as they prepare for the arrival of a baby. This, as a local stray known as Tramp (Voice of Larry Roberts) puts it, will be devastating to her everyday life and will probably end up with her sleeping outside in a doghouse. After Jim Dear and Darling go on vacation, leaving Aunt Sarah (Voice of Verna Felton) in charge, Lady finds herself forced to run away due to an incident at a pet store. However, she soon finds herself in the company of Tramp, allowing them to get to know each other better, and allowing for their special relationship to bloom.
As mentioned, this is one of those animated classics that everyone remembers fondly and no doubt has good memories of, and for good reason. It’s a charming film that has entertaining characters and memorable music, two staples of Disney’s vast library. From the leading roles of Lady, a dog from a well-to-do home, and Tramp, a rascal who lives on the streets and must evade the seemingly ever-present dogcatcher, to the fun supporting canines like Lady’s friends, the delightful Scottish Terrier Jock and the somewhat forgetful bloodhound Trusty, the characters here are a big part of why audiences remember the film as well as they do.
In the case of “Lady and the Tramp,” it’s the characters that actually help balance out the film’s somewhat weak and uneventful narrative. That’s a long way from saying that the story is bad, for it certainly does have things to like about it, including the interactions between the different dog “classes” and the sweet romance that develops between Lady and Tramp (leading to the film’s infamous spaghetti scene), but when compared to some of the masterful stories we’ve seen from Disney before and since, there just isn’t a whole lot going on, which is why the great characters are so vitally important to make it the fine film it is.
Rewatching this for the first time in what must’ve been at least 15 years, I was constantly reminded of my recent revisiting of “Bambi,” another film that was light on story, but rich in fantastic characters, likewise creating a balance that made it a rather enjoyable film. Just like “Bambi,” “Lady and the Tramp” is a film that is also boosted by gorgeous animation and a wonderful score that features memorable songs like “Bella Notte,” “He’s a Tramp,” and “The Siamese Cat Song,” so while the story may be just a touch on the weak side, there’s more than enough to make up for it.
Overall, “Lady and the Tramp” may have a slightly forgettable storyline when compared to other Disney fare, but with everything else the film has to offer (great characters, excellent voice acting, beautiful animation and music, etc.), it’s no wonder that it’s remembered so fondly by kids and adults alike. As with most of Disney’s animated classics, there’s a reason (or several) as to why they live on decade after decade, and “Lady and the Tramp” is definitely no exception.
“Lady and the Tramp” returns to Blu-ray in a 2.55:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of stunning quality. Despite the film being 63 years old, the animation looks brand new again, with every frame looking bright and vibrant. Likewise, the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fantastic, giving you all of the vocal performances, sound effects, and the classic songs/score in excellent quality. Overall, Disney has once again done a superb job at restoring one of their classic animated works, ensuring that generations to come will be able to enjoy it.
Walt and His Dogs (8 Minutes): A featurette that mainly consists of archival audio interviews with Walt Disney in which he discusses the dogs he had in his life
Stories from Walt’s Office (6 Minutes): A featurette that takes a look at Walt’s formal and working offices.
How to Make a Meatball and Other Fun Facts About Lady and the Tramp (9 Minutes): A rather pointless cooking lesson, but at least you get some small tidbits about the film.
Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad (8 Minutes): A featurette in which Walt’s daughter reminisces about her father.
Deleted Scenes (19 Minutes): A fascinating collection of three deleted scenes from early versions of the story.
Never Recorded Song – “I’m Free as the Breeze” (1 Minute): A deleted song that was to be sung by Tramp until it was determined that he shouldn’t be a singing character.
While “Lady and the Tramp” may not rank as one of Disney’s greatest animated works, it still makes for a charming experience thanks to its memorable and entertaining characters, gorgeous animation, and a beautiful score. When it comes to the Blu-ray itself, Disney has done a marvelous job bringing the film back to life, making it look better than ever and throwing in a few new intriguing extras, making this an easy recommendation for any Disney fan looking to expand their collection of classics.
Now available on Signature Collection Blu-ray and DVD.