movie film review | chris tookey

Lady And The Tramp

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  Lady And The Tramp Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
8.14 /10
Voices: Peggy Lee , Larry Roberts (as Tramp) , Barbara Luddy (Lady)
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Directed by: Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson
Written by: Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, Don DaGradi with music & lyrics by Peggy Lee, Sonny Burke

Released: 1955
Origin: US
Length: 76


An upmarket, cosseted spaniel, Lady, meets a distinctly downmarket, apparently untrustworthy mongrel called Tramp. He looks and sleeps rough, but has a heart of gold. He helps Lady overcome her resentment of a new baby in the family, along with a series of more obviously dangerous obstacles - from the town dog-catcher to a street-gang of slavering curs.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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This was the first film I was ever taken to see in a cinema. I can still recall the deep impact upon me. I was five. I can't remember whether I saw it - it might have been the Odeon in Bromley, or the Regal in Beckenham; but it inspired a love of films and an affection for canines that have remained with me ever since. When my parents finally caved into a long campaign of pressure from my sisters and myself that Christmas and gave us our hearts’ desire in the form of a dog, he was immediately named Tramp.
From the less personal point of view, Lady and the Tramp is also a landmark. It was the first cartoon to be shot in wide-screen CinemaScope, and the first movie to have come originally from the imagination of Walt Disney himself. It was inspired by his own gift of a puppy to his wife in a hat box, in 1925.
Nowadays, the movie is routinely acclaimed as a classic, but in 1955 it received surprisingly poor reviews. Critics described it as sentimental, sugary and sadistic. If they thought this was sadistic, heaven knows what they would have made of modern "family" movies.
Audiences rightly disregarded the critics, and made the film one of the most profitable movies of all time. It cost $4 million and grossed over $25 million: the third-biggest hit of its decade, behind The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur.
Many years later, it still stands up. Although I didn't appreciate it at the age of five, the sequence where Lady is incarcerated in a dog pound is a clever parody of World War II prisoner-of-war films. And the Italian restaurant meal is among the most charming - and imitated - love scenes in screen history.
Throughout, the animators do a witty job of reflecting a dog's eye view. And, of all Disney cartoons, this is the one with the most brilliant voice-overs. Note, especially, the voicings of Jock the scottie (by Bill Thompson) and Trusty the bloodhound (by Bill Baucon) , miraculously melding together the human and the canine.
The score, mainly sung by its co-composer Peggy Lee, is delightful, and features three of the best staged numbers in any musical film: the Siamese cats' duet, He's a Tramp, and Bella Noce .
Technically, this is not among the very best Disney cartoons. The landscapes are rather static, and a few rough edges are visible (at the end of the Italian restaurant scene, there’s a pan up some washing lines where the glass used in the foreground is plainly visible).
The politically correct lobby might nowadays accuse the film of racial stereotyping, but it's done with such good humour and affection for the differences between breeds of canine and human that it's inoffensive.
The film is also surprisingly radical for a mass-audience movie from the pre-Civil Rights era. It is virtually unique in the Disney canon for encouraging not only racial tolerance, but miscegenation. The snobbish, racial purists Jock the Scottie and Trusty the Bloodhound learn not to be so prejudiced against the impure Tramp. The thoroughbred Lady and the scruffy mongrel not only marry; they have lovable, mixed-breed children.
Most of all, though, Lady and the Tramp is a triumph of story-telling. It packs more story into 78 minutes than most modern films manage in two hours; yet it never feels forced or rushed. There's humour, romance, drama, excitement and adventure. The fights are powerful stuff, without any need to show blood or mangled bodies.
No matter what age you are, and no matter how many times you have seen Lady and the Tramp, you will discover new touches to make you laugh and bring a tear to your eye.

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