Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Lady and the Tramp


Lady and the Tramp is Walt Disney's 15th mainstream animated feature and was so successful that it became the highest grossing film of the 1950s, earning over $93 million in box office reciepts in the United States and Canada alone - an impressive feat considering the average cinema ticket would cost about 60 cents.

The plot follows young cocker spaniel Lady (Barbara Luddy), who lives with a refined upper-class couple (Lee Millar and Peggy Lee) in Maine. When her owners go on vacation she is looked after by Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton), who takes a dislike to her and tries to get her fixed with a muzzle. Terrified Lady runs away and is found by Tramp (Larry Roberts), a streetwise stray silver mutt who she already knew. Tramp promises to look after her and help her get home and slowly yet surely the two fall in love.

Lady and the Tramp is truly classic Disney. The animals of the film (mostly dogs, but also cats that are also voiced by Peggy Lee, an alligator voiced by Thurl Ravenscroft, a beaver voiced by Stan Freberg, a hyena voiced by Dallas McKennon and a rat) are all carefully drawn to look as exact to the real animals as it is possible to get with cartoons. In all fairness the rat is designed to look more menacing, but that was an excellent decision on the animation team's part as the rat is used to raise dramatic tension, and also because in 1909 (the film's time setting) being bitten by a rat was almost always fatal, so they were looked at as much more menacing than they are today.

There are very good comic characters such as Lady's close friends and neighbours - bloodhound Trusty (Bill Baucom) and Scottish terrier Jock (Bill Thompson). The pair make a very good comic double act and are very contrasting - Trusty is a slow-minded old dog, with a great running gag coming from his supposedly lost sense of smell, where as Jock is very hot-headed and brisk. There is also great comedy from Tramp, simply because of his cheekiness, laid back attitude and his taking great chances at every chance. This is greatly needed due to the truly dramatic tension in the climax where the rat goes to attack Jim Dear and Darling's baby, with Tramp and Lady racing against time to stop it. Your heart is really racing when the rat looks about to pounce on the baby, partly due to the tense music and the lightning flashes from the outside storm, but mainly because you're really worried the rat will pounce before Lady and Tramp get there, and you know that if it pounces that the baby will die, and you are guaranteed to sigh with relief when Tramp pounces on it. There is also great poignancy at the end of the climax when it looks like Trusty has been killed in his efforts to save Tramp from the pound and Jock howls over his lifeless body. Jock's grief will really tug at the heartstrings, especially if you've seen a dog in pain or grief. It will therefore be a huge relief that will put a massive smile on your face when we see in the epilogue that Trusty survived, albeit with some serious injuries.

However, the characters, the comedy, the drama and the poignancy never outshine Lady and Tramp's romance. The romance is truly heartwarming thanks to the music played, and it will really make you smile to see such a loving pair on screen. The most memorable romantic moment is when the pair share a plate of spaghetti in the backyard of an Italian restaurant, provided by the owner (George Givot) - who has befriended Tramp a while before the film's opening - and they share a string which leads to them kissing. Your heart simply soars in that moment and it has become such a big moment that it has been mocked/referenced in so many other films and TV shows since.

All in all this lovely animated film is a truly heart-warming family film that will warm the hearts of anyone who views it, and has truly stood the test of time thanks to its lovely characters and wonderful screenplay.

Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Lee Millar, Peggy Lee, Verna Felton, George Givot, Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Max Smith, Bob Hamlin, Bob Stevens, Alan Reed, Stan Freberg, Dallas McKennon.

BAFTA nomination: Best Animated Film.

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