Wednesday 29 August 2012

Lady And The Tramp (1955)

It's very sweet, it has one absolutely iconic scene and it never outstays its welcome but, for some reason, Lady And The Tramp just never makes it right into the top tier of the Disney classics for me. Maybe because it's just a little bit TOO sweet.

The story is all about, of course, Lady and Tramp, two dogs leading two very different lives. Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) is a pampered pooch and definitely a part of the family that she lives with while Tramp (voiced by Larry Roberts) spends most of his time avoiding the dog catcher, getting meals from kindly restaurateurs and enjoying a carefree life. When the two get to spend some time together, after an incident that sees Lady removed from the comfort of her home, they soon start getting along very well despite their differences.

Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske, Lady And The Tramp is yet another Disney movie that seemed to have as much drama behind the scenes as it did up front (not that hard this time around anyway, there's not much here to compete with the better dramatic scenes that Disney can come up with).

Joe Grant was a problem, due to the fact that it was his original sketches used to develop the story (which was mainly based on "Happy Dan The Whistling Dog" by Ward Greene) without his permission. CinemaScope was a problem, due to the fact that the movie was being made for that format before Walt Disney realised that not all theatres could show movies in that form, forcing him to also have a version of the movie made in the original aspect ratio.
Peggy Lee (who voices a number of characters and sings the classic "He's A Tramp" song, among others) was a problem when she later sued Disney for breach of contract.

But fans of the movie will be happy that it turned out the way it did despite those problems. It's certainly a charming picture, even if most of the characters are somewhat bland and unmemorable (heck, even Lady and Tramp are hard for me to visualise now that the credits have rolled). One standout moment sees the introduction of Si and Am, two Siamese cats out to cause havoc, but the rest of the film is simply okay. I admit that the moment with that shared plate of spaghetti remains one of the sweetest and most romantic images from the movies, animated or live-action, but it's surrounded by a film that's not really up there with the best of the output from the House Of Mouse.

Having said that, it's adorable in the way that puppies are adorable and while it overdoes the sweetness on more than one occasion there are times when it just gets everything perfect and forces you to give in to the urge to say "awwwwww" out loud before catching sight of your own reflection in the mirror and scowling at yourself for being so easily manipulated.


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