Combustible Celluloid
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With: (voices) Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton, Alan Reed, George Givot, Dal McKennon, Lee Millar
Written by: Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, Don DaGradi, based on a story by Ward Greene
Directed by: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 76
Date: 06/16/1955

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of Disney's simplest and most delightful animated features, Lady and the Tramp is also one of the few shot in 1:2.55 Cinemascope. Set around the turn of the century (with button shoes and horse-drawn wagons), the wide frame emphasizes the dog's territory: the streets, yards, lanes and back alleys of a young town.

Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) is of the leash-and-collar set, a spoiled, beloved Cocker Spaniel who lives with her humans, whom she knows as "Darling" and "Jim Dear." Her best friends are neighbor dogs, Jock (voiced by Bill Thompson) and Trusty (voiced by Bill Baucom). When a new baby comes into the family, Lady finds her nest disturbed, and her comfort agitated by the freewheeling Tramp (voiced by Larry Roberts). Escaping the clutches of the mean Aunt Sarah, Lady spends a night out with Tramp, eating a romantic spaghetti dinner, before realizing that she likes her world better.

In a fairly typical 1950s message, Tramp decides to give up his freedom to join her. Though this lightweight film breezes by on its ample charm and wonderful songs ("The Siamese Cat Song" and "He's a Tramp," both performed by Peggy Lee), it's also burdened by all types of cultural and racial stereotypes, from the red-nosed Irish cop to the Chinese-accented cats. Forgiving that, it's one of my favorite Disney films.

Disney's 2006 two-disc DVD comes with a freshly letterboxed transfer, as well as a pan-and-scan version for those who haven't caught on to the pleasures of widescreen. Most of the extras are little games and featurettes, and the best one is a DVD-Rom game that allows the viewer to play with a virtual puppy. (It works on both Mac and PC.)

In 2012, Disney released a beautiful, widescreen Blu-Ray; I've never seen this film looking so fine. In 2018, Disney followed up with a new "Signature Edition" release; the audio and visuals from the 2012 Blu-ray remain the same, but there is now a digital copy, and several new extras, including "Walt & His Dogs," "Stories from Walt's Office," "How to Make a Meatball," and song selections and the "Sing-a-Long" version. Older extras include deleted scenes and a never-recorded song ("I'm As Free As the Breeze"). No complaints on this one.

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