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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 20: "Lady and the Tramp"

(Originally published on 5/23/22)


Lady and the Tramp

Run time: 76 min.

Release Date: June 22, 1955.

Where/when I first saw it: On video, 1987.

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Monday afternoon

This has always been my favorite of this particular era for the studio (the ‘50s) and with this past viewing, my appreciation for it has grown even more. Here, the Disney artists had to change their game by accommodating the new CinemaScope format and in doing so, have created a rich visual look, even without the talent of Mary Blair guiding the way. The backgrounds remain lush and detailed while the characterizations feel more old-school Disney than anything else during this time. The widescreen imagery is a welcome change of pace and a good challenge for the animators who might have otherwise just gone through the motions in cranking out more animated product. Here, they are forced to find creative ways of filling the space and giving greater dimension. They come through triumphantly.

And the songs are all terrific.

Of all the Disney films, this one feels the most like a romantic comedy of its time and with a rom-com formula that would endure for decades to come. The street-smart rapscallion taking the naïve rich girl under his wing and falling in love in the process is tried and true and it still works here as much as it ever did. Lady is thoroughly adorable as a puppy and any dog owner will recognize certain truths about dog ownership that remain true today. Tramp is voiced perfectly by Larry Roberts as a dog who has seen his fair share of cruelty and abandonment by the humans around him. The supporting characters are distinctly charming and the two Siamese cats have one of the most memorable sequences of any Disney film.

It was obvious at the time that Disney needed a new love story that was not based on a fairy tale and this was the perfect solution. The spaghetti scene remains an all-time classic romantic moment in cinema and there doesn’t appear to be a false note in the whole thing. Even though the film was made during a time when Walt was preoccupied with the construction of Disneyland, it’s proof that he could multitask on such a large scale, as his storytelling instincts remained intact throughout. This is still one of the studio’s best.


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