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Walt Disney Home Video presents
Lady and the Tramp (Platinum Edition) (1955)

"When you're footloose and collar-free, you take nothing but the best."
- Tramp (Larry Roberts)

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 27, 2006

MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 01h:16m:30s
Release Date: February 28, 2006
UPC: 786936284058
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+AA A-

DVD Review

Even the most cold-hearted or allergic would be hard pressed not to have a sentimental weakness for Lady and the Tramp. It's very much of a piece with the best Disney animation of the period; and it's not yet quite like looking at daguerreotypes or watching silent shorts to ask the grandchildren of those who were kids when this first came out to watch this. They surely will, and with delight, even if they've been weaned exclusively on computer-generated animation. There's nothing like a good sweet story and hummable songs, and nobody wrapped up packages like this any better than Walt Disney.

The tale is somewhat episodic, but certainly sufficiently compelling. When the story begins, we learn that the leading lady is a Christmas gift, bringing with her all the high maintenance of a new puppy. Lady is a sweet little cocker spaniel, with perfectly rendered doe eyes; her doting owners are known cutely only as Darling and Jim Dear, their pet names for one another, and they love their little lady. The conceit of the movie is that everything happens at dog's-eye level, and that dogs can understand humans, but not vice versa—it's the sort of thing you give yourself over to gladly with a movie like this. Lady has landed in a tony neighborhood, and as she grows, we see her with a couple of her purebred pals: Jock is the Scottie with a huge stash of bones, and Trusty the bloodhound who, tragically for him, seems to have lost his sense of smell.

But something is soon to upset the apple cart at Lady's house: Darling and Jim Dear are expecting! Will their precious little pup be nosed out of alpha status by the new baby? There seems to be plenty of love to go around—but not from Aunt Sarah, who spells the new parents, and has it in for the little Lady. Insult: she's brought along her twin Siamese cats, who wreck the joint and make Lady take the fall. Injury: Aunt Sarah's first purchase is a muzzle for Lady, which is simply too much, leading to her running away, at least for a while. That's when she meets up with Tramp, a streetwise mutt, the dog from the wrong side of the tracks. Will the rich girl from uptown give the street tough the time of day? Of course she will—they've got to have their spaghetti dinner together, after all. The movie is a little bottom-heavy with story, though, as the romance implied in the title doesn't get under way until the film's close to half over.

Holding up especially well after fifty years are the golden tones of Miss Peggy Lee, who provides the voices for a number of the characters, as well as singing a handful of memorable, spirited songs. Not aging nearly as well upon reflection are some of the cheap ethnic stereotypes in the piece. Not to get all PC with the folks who live in the happiest place on earth, but the Asian accents of the Siamese cats, or the jokey cadences of Tramp's Italian restaurateur pals ("Whatsa matta for you?!?") probably wouldn't even make it into a first draft today.

Personally, I could do without the syrupy choruses that chime in on the soundtrack—the same thing afflicts Disney's Peter Pan, and it's a style that hasn't aged well, especially since the story is so carefully worked out and so driven by character. But it really is a sweet and fun movie, and holds up mighty well.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.55:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: The film was produced in an extra-wide ratio of 2.55:1, and so if you're television isn't of a certain size, it may feel like watching it in the OAR is like peering at a movie through a set of Venetian blinds. That's why there's a pan-and-scan option here, I assume, but if the kids don't rebel at the big black bars, the widescreen is the way to go. The transfer is very strong and saturated, and has been restored with care and luster.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, French, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: An equally strong effort on the audio side, though if your home theater setup isn't tricked out with surround speakers, you may feel like you're missing out on a little bit.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Little Mermaid, The Shaggy Dog, Chicken Little, Brother Bear 2, Airbuddies, Lady and the Tramp II, Dumbo, Walt Disney World
2 Deleted Scenes
3 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. games
  2. galleries
  3. Fast Play option
Extras Review: Disney had previously released a single-disc version of this title, but if you're a fan, you'll want to chase after a copy of this two-disc set like, well, a dog after a bone. The feature is on the first disc, along with a raft of trailers, and the Fast Play option, so if you've got little people who can load the DVD player but are prone to fumble with the remote, they'll be ready to rumble. Disc Two is where most of the extras action is, starting with a couple of deleted scenes. Both come with introductions from animator Eric Goldberg, and they're both instructive—the first is a discarded sequence in which the dogs imagine an upside-down world in which they walk and feed humans, rather than vice versa. It's a bit too fantastical for the feature, which is probably why it was cut. The second is an early, extended version of the arrival of the new baby at Lady's house—sweet, but it doesn't push the story along. Both of these are assembled from storyboards, audio clips, and unfinished animation.

Goldberg presides again over a look (04m:16s) at the Siamese Cat Song, and on how the look of the felines was arrived at. Also under the heading Music and More is a de facto music video—Steve Tyrell has covered Bella Notte, and is in fine voice. Next is a selection of games and activities, starting with a chance to adopt a virtual puppy, via DVD-ROM. You can make your new best friend sit and stay, be sure to provide water and food, and you need not worry about stuffing your pockets with plastic bags for cleanup. (I'm happy to report that this feature functions on Macintosh as well as on PCs. Think different.) Disney Dog Trivia is a virtual board game, which you can play by yourself on the junior level, or in family mode, for up to four teams. If you want a head start on the game, check out Going to the Dogs, a survey of canines in Disney movies, both animated and live action. In a bizarre but hilarious tribute to Best in Show, this guide is hosted by Fred Willard. Then figure out how you'd stand on four paws with Your Inner Bark, a quiz designed to tell you which character in the feature you most resemble. (I'm Bull the Bulldog, apparently.)

All of this is just sort of appetizer, though, for a section called Backstage Disney, the centerpiece of which is Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp (52m:33s). It starts with a look at Walt Disney's own childhood—the town of the film is a loving tribute to Marceline, Missouri, where Disney grew up—and then traces the arduous development of the story, dating back at least to 1939. Current Disney animators and artisans share their appreciation for the film, and especially of the so-called Nine Old Men, Disney's go-to animators from the period. There are also looks here at the music (with, among others, Peggy Lee's daughter), the voice talent, and the art and design of the feature. It's a very thorough if relentlessly cheery undertaking. Finding Lady: The Art of Storyboards (13m:01s) discusses Walt's pioneering use of storyboarding; for reasons unexplained, among those interviewed are Kevin Costner, making reference to his movie Open Range. Somebody has done some relentless curatorial work, and has reconstructed a set (11m:51s) of 1943 storyboards for the project—it's fascinating to see how the story evolved over such a long period of time.

A couple of excerpts from the TV show Disneyland show Walt not so subtly hawking the movie. The first, A Story of Dogs (17m:28s), is from December 1954, and Walt shows us Lady and the Tramp taking their rightful place beside Pluto in the Disney dog pantheon—you'll even find a promo for this piece on the disc, a few scenes from next week's show. Similarly, Cavalcade of Songs focuses on the work on the movie by Lee and composer Sonny Burke.

There's a trailer from the film's original 1955 release, and ones for re-releases in 1972 and 1986; and a great fat collection of galleries, chock full of images from the production, under the headings Visual Development, Character Design, Storyboard Art, Layouts and Backgrounds, and Production Photos. It's a wealth of material for animation aficionados, though the target audience for the feature will probably spend the bulk of their time on the first disc in the set.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

A very welcome edition to Disney's line of Platinum releases—you'll get a kick out of this one, whether or not your preference is spaghetti and meatballs, or kibbles and bits.

 


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