"Lady and the Tramp" is one of those animated films that has gone through a critical reappraisal over the years. When it first came out in 1955, it was panned by critics. At the time critics thought it was too sappy, the animation not up to par, and the CinemaScope aspect ratio completely wrong for the film. Looking back on those early reviews, I hesitate to wonder if the critics at the time did see the same film. "Lady and the Tramp" has often been considered a classic film from Walt Disney Animation Studios and has even since been called one of the most romantic films ever made. I can agree with that. It's a sentimental classic that brings back the tender memories of the early 20th century which always leaves me feeling warm and cozy by the time the film is finished.
In a quiet Midwestern town in the late 1900s, a cocker spaniel named Lady (Barbara Luddy) has been living a happy life with her owners Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and Darling (Peggy Lee). With a cozy house, friendly neighborhood, and even two friendly dogs on the street named Jock (Bill Thompson) and Trusty (Bill Baucom), everything seems pleasant for Lady until one day she eventually bumps into the Tramp (Larry Roberts), a stray Scottish Terrier who has been evading the dog catcher and enjoying life on the city street without a license or collar. Over time, the two run into each other's paths again and what follows is a charming story of love and various romantic adventures throughout the city.
One of the most notable things about the film was that it started production back in 1937. Along with other films from Walt Disney Animation Studios released in the 1950s like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan", the films' early production goes back to when "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was just finishing production and getting ready to be released in theaters. The film, however, was forced to halt production due to the Second World War as well as the financial failures of "Bambi", "Pinocchio", and "Fantasia". It eventually resumed production with the success of "Cinderella" and has since gone on to become a classic. Like I said before, I can agree with that statement. Watching the film again, I was surprised by just how simple the story is. The film presents a look at America from the early 1900s and I felt a sense of nostalgia for that time while watching it. The world seemed so simple and peaceful at the time so I can understand why Walt Disney wanted to recreate that look for this film since he had grown up in Missouri during that time and was looking back on that time with fond memories. The film not only captured that world well, but it also captured the world from the dog's perspective well. There's so much curiosity going on in Lady's mind as certain events in the film happen and they all just pace out beautifully. I also loved how cozy the animation was. It also captured the 1900s look and feel down to a tee. The backgrounds are beautifully painted by Claude Coates and Eyvind Earle and the CinemaScope shows their brilliance. The decision to also shoot the film from a dog's perspective was brilliant. It allowed most of the human's faces to be unseen throughout the film which I thought was a nice touch. Animated movies and shows still use that trick today and they have this film to mostly thank for it. I also have to talk about the famous spaghetti kiss animated by Frank Thomas. To call it one of the most famous animated film kisses would be an understatement. It is one of the most iconic kisses in film history and has cemented itself into pop culture forever. Walt Disney almost cut the kiss thinking it would be too corny but changed his mind once he saw it. I'm really glad he. kept it in the end. Though I think the characters are what make this movie so lovable in the end. The chemistry between Lady and Tramp feels believable and never forced. They also have distinct and dynamic personalities to go off of and they just work together brilliantly. Even the supporting characters like Jock and Trusty are simply delightful. If I had to nitpick the movie one bit, it's that some of the moments in the film do tend to drag a bit. The scene with the beaver is still fun to watch, but I do think it's just a tad too long. That's really about it though.
"Lady and the Tramp" is simply a delightful film to watch with a story that's simple but pleasant, gorgeous animation, and characters that are memorable and charming. It is a pleasant animated film from Disney if there ever is one and it just leaves me feeling happy every time I watch it. It's always going to be a Bella Notte every time I see this.