Lady and the Tramp (1955)

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It’s always fun to be surprised by just how much of a movie you can remember.

I know as a child I didn’t watch Lady and the Tramp endlessly, but I remembered a few key scenes.  I was certain though that there were entire subplots and asides that I was forgetting.

As it turns out, there weren’t. I remembered just about everything in this movie. Maybe I watched it more as a child than I recall, or maybe there’s just something about it that sticks out in the mind.

Lady and the Tramp tells the story of Lady, a pretty and pampered cocker spaniel who lives the life of luxury in a beautiful home, and Tramp, a stray who lives on the streets and takes life as it comes.  The film is largely centered around Lady’s life, from her arrival at her new home as a puppy to her contented existence as a staple in the family.

It’s difficult to write a summary of this film, primarily because it consists of numerous small scenes which are technically part of the whole story, but are not necessarily directly related to one another.  Rather than attempt to write a flowing essay about the film as a whole, I will instead focus on a few key scenes that stand out.

  1. The opening scene featuring Lady as a puppy

Look at that adorable little face.  I want one.  Lady’s playfulness is super cute in this scene, as she tries to figure out how to get from the kitchen up to the warmth of her owners’ bed.  She masterfully starting crying, hoping to lure her owners back downstairs before ultimately climbing the massive staircase and weedling her way onto their bed.

2.The Siamese Cats

These characters are more than a little racist, but that song will perpetually get stuck in your head for days after watching.  I remember singing this incessantly as a child, and also being conflicted because although I’m generally a cat person, I couldn’t stand these two.

3.Peg

Oh, Peg.  She has but one scene in the movie, yet she manages to steal the show.  Whenever I think of Lady and the Tramp, I hear Peggy Lee’s smooth voice confirming exactly what type of dog Tramp is.  It’s not a big scene, but it has always stood out in my mind.

4.The “Bella Notte” dinner

This is perhaps the most famous scene from the movie, and arguably one of Disney’s most iconic images.  I found myself giggling at the absurdity of a couple of Italian guys setting up a full table and serenading a pair of dogs, but it’s an incredibly sweet scene nonetheless.  If you remember nothing else from the film, you will undoubtedly remember this.

I find myself enjoying the individual scenes more than the film as a whole.  Each scene had an amusing or heartfelt touch to it, yet overall the film feels like a rather standard “boy from the wrong side of the tracks” type of story.  There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s just also nothing groundbreaking in it.  Then again, perhaps that’s what makes it perfect for children.  It is so often difficult to hold a child’s attention, so perhaps the writers opted to focus on shorter scenes that would stick out in a child’s mind.  With none of these scenes being particularly long or dragged out, they were perfect for younger viewers, remaining entertaining yet brief enough that a kid wouldn’t lose interest and could easily remember what was going on.  Given that I could recall virtually every scene some fifteen or twenty years after having last seen this movie, I’d say their methods are sound.

As is expected, this Disney movie ends on a high note, with Tramp being adopted by Lady’s owners and the duo raising their own brood of puppies.  The story is simple, yet it’s also fun and sweet.  There are a few moments where it falters, not quite standing the test of time (primarily with the depiction of blatantly racist or stereotypical ethnic characters).  Still, overall it’s a cute little film.  Perhaps not my favorite, but a fine example of how well Disney can craft a story.

Besides, where else are you going to find a movie dedicated to all the dogs in the world?

-Jess

 

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