Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
Film (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
After looking for ideas for a new animated movie, Diseny story-man Joe Grant eventually decided to base a story on his springer spaniel named Lady. While Walt Disney liked the idea for the movie, he felt that the movie needed something more to counter the inherent sweetness of Lday’s story and hit upon combining Grant’s idea with a short story written by Ward Greene called, “Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog,” which featured a happy-go-lucky dog that he felt would fit the bill perfectly. Walt bought the rights to the story and merged the two which resulted in the beloved Lady and the Tramp.
The movie opens on Christmas morning and a young man named Jim Dear his wife a cocker spaniel puppy that they end up calling Lady. We watch the young puppy grow up and be spoiled in her plush surroundings that make up the Dear family household. One special morning, Lady is finally given a dog license, which to dogs is a badge of honor, and Lady is quick to find her friends in the neighborhood to share the news. Two of her closest friends that live nearby include a Scottish terrier named Jock and an old bloodhound who may or may not have lost his sense of smell named Trusty.
Not everyone is as fortunate as Lady, as a mutt named Tramp has no license or a home, but that doesn’t bother him in the slightest. He loves the freedom of his life with no rules, no house, and no responsibilities to tie him down. He doesn’t even have to go hungry since there’s plenty of local restaurants nearby including his favorite – Tony’s that is always happy to give the friendly dog a meal. The Tramp is also the main target of the neighborhood dogcatcher but he’s too smart to get caught. Unfortunately, some other dogs including a Lhasa Apso named Peg and an English bulldog named appropriately Bull, aren’t as clever as the Tramp and they are captured. They know that the Tramp will save them and sure enough he does, which only raises the ire of the already furious dogcatcher.
Life is good for Lady until the Dear family welcomes a new baby into the house. No longer the focus of their attention, Lady is saddened at her change of fortune and is consoled by her friends. The Tramp however doesn’t share their optimistic appraisal of the situation and tells her that it’s the beginning of the end for her and that she might as well prepare for a life outside in a doghouse. The Tramp is so different from Lady that she can’t help but be interested in him much like a certain princess who fell in love with a smuggler in a galaxy far far away.
When the Dears go on a trip, they have Aunt Sarah come to watch over the baby and Lady. They don’t realize that Aunt Sarah doesn’t like dogs and to make matters worse, her two Siamese cats cause trouble and make Lady look like the guily one. When Sarah puts a muzzle on Lady that’s the last straw and Lady runs away only to be chased by some dogs. The Tramp comes to her rescue and helps her get free of the muzzle and shows Lady what his life is like “footloose and collar free.” Their day ends with a romantic candle-lit spaghetti dinner at Tony’s complete with music and singing.
The next day the Tramp chases some chickens and during their escape Lady is captured by the dogcatcher and taken to the pound. While there, the other dogs let her know that her license will allow her to leave and proceed to tell her stories about the Tramp’s background which only causes him trouble when she later confronts him about his past girlfriends and his failure to rescue her. Now chained in the back yard by Aunt Sarah, Lady spot a rat making its way into the baby’s room and barks for help. The Tramp hears her barking and returns to try to save the baby from the malicious rat and to try to win back Lady’s love. From there, there’s some more misunderstandings, acts of bravery, and of course a happy ending but I won’t say more than that.
Lady and the Tramp is a great Disney movie, but it’s also a great movie period. The movie is filled with fun and interesting characters, a lot of great songs by Peggy Lee, and some very nice atmosphere. I may be somewhat biased since I’ve owned two cocker spaniels that looked a lot like Lady, but I would still consider the movie to be a classic all on its own. The story of two lovers from opposing sides of the tracks has been told many times and when done right can always be entertaining and this is one of those times. Another bonus to the movie is that it was filmed in CinemaScope which looks great today on our wide-screen tvs. This is the kind of movie that Walt Disney excelled at making and even though the movie was interrupted by World War II and shelved for awhile, you couldn’t tell by looking at the film. This is another Disney classic that should be in every-one’s home!
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Like their other Diamond Editions, Disney has done another stellar job restoring this movie that I will wager looks better here than it did when it was first released. This 1080p (2.55:1) transfer looks so good that you will think that the movie is a brand new Disney film rather than being a fifty-seven year old film! Colors pop off the screen, there’s an abundance of detail present, and the black levels are incredibly dark and solid. This transfer is simply perfection, with no blemishes, scratches, or artifacts of any kind marring its exquisite beauty. This is the best this movie has ever looked hands down.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Lady and the Tramp offers two choices for your listening pleasure: a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track and a DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0 mix that’s meant to hew as closely as possible to the original mix. Both sound great but for me personally, I liked the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix best because it felt the most immersive. Dialogue (and barks) are clear and intelligible with none of the hissing or other age-related issues that can pop up in these older films. This is primarily a front channel mix with the rear channels handling the musical score and some ambient noises. The many wonderful musical numbers sound fantastic and will have you tapping your foot immediately. Fans of the movie’s soundtrack will be very pleased with this fine mix.
Extras (5 out of 5 stars)
This is another jam-packed Blu-ray that deserves its Diamond Edition moniker! There’s hours of extras for you to wade through and all of them are in high definition with the exception of the Classic DVD extras that have also been provided.
- Disney Second Screen Featuring “Inside Walt’s Story Meetings” - Download this app from the Apple App Store and sync it with The Lion King to get access to extra content such as interactive games, storyboards and concept art from the film, animation tests, trivia, and more. You can see a video showing off this feature below.
- Inside Walt’s Story Meetings: Audio Commentary – If you ‘d like to hear Walt talk about the movie thanks to a collection of recordings combined together (and who wouldn’t?), then you should make sure that you listen to this commentary. You can’t find this in the bonus features section like you’d think, but instead after selecting “play movie” where you can turn on the excellent commentary.
- Introduction with Diane Disney Miller – In what is becoming a tradition on these new Disney Blu-rays, we hear from Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. In the past, she primarily spends her time pitching the Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco, but this time she also talks a bit about her father and the movie too.
- Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition – This collection of extras lasts almost 30 minutes and offers quite a bit of interesting information. They include:
- Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad – A nice but brief look at Walt Disney as remembered by his daughter. A lot of this information is already widely known, but it was still nice to hear it again.
- Deleted Scenes – We are given three deleted scenes in storyboard format. They’re ‘Introduction of Boris’, ‘Waiting for Baby’, and ‘Dog Show’.
- Music & More – We get a bonus song that wasn’t recorded titled ”I’m Free as the Breeze,” by Ray Gilbert and Eliot Daniel.
- Classic DVD Bonus Features - At a whopping 160 minutes, these classic extras from the previous release cover just about everything a Lady and the Tramp fan would want. There’s the almost hour long ‘Lady’s Pedigree: The Making of “Lady and the Tramp’, the featurette ‘Finding Lady: The Art of The Storyboard’, the ‘Original 1943 Storyboard Version of the Film’,’ a look at “The Siamese Cat Song”: Finding A Voice For the Cats’, as well as the ‘Puppy Pedia: Going To The Dogs’, ‘”Bella Notte Music Video’, ‘Theatrical Trailers’, some ‘Excerpts From “Disneyland” TV Shows, and finally some more ‘Deleted Scenes’.
Summary (5 out of 5 stars)
Lady and the Tramp is one of Walt Disney’s enduring classics that has never looked or sounded better than this Blu-ray. The movie is wonderful and Disney has pulled out all of the stops to deliver one of the best looking Blu-rays I’ve seen in awhile, as well as a much improved soundtrack. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s has hours of extras that are interesting and informative which makes this a must buy for fans!
Order your copy today!