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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lady and the Tramp

Welcome, film lovers!  I have started an insane project!  It’s called 365 – I will watch a movie a day for a year and write about them.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  So, sit back, relax, and place your bets on how fast I give up on this thing…

#363: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This is the first of, I am sure, many Disney movies to make this blog.  It is a classic, and I love it.  I also have the blu-ray handy, as the rest of my movies are still in storage in Keene, so there ya go…

OK, if you haven’t seen this movie, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!  Also, get thee to the Netflix!  This is Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson’s masterpiece.  For those of you not in the know, Frank and Ollie were part of the “9 Old Men”, the guys who pretty much are the reason we have Disney.  They truly excelled at giving animals human traits and personalities, as well as extreme adorableness.  This is the best of the best right here...

The Players:
First off, I know most of you don’t really care about the voice actors, since they aren’t big-time movie stars, but they deserve their credit.  That is all

Lady: Voiced by Barbara Luddy.  She’s the adorable cocker spaniel that most likely caused a surge in cocker spaniel sales.  There’s no proof, but I know I wanted one when I was a little girl after seeing this movie.  Anyway, Lady is just that – a lady.  She is a good and dutiful dog to her people, and her other dig friends.  She is a little (read: completely) sheltered and stuck up, but eventually she lets her hair (ears?) down  and learns how to have a little fun.

Tramp: Voiced by Larry Roberts.  He’s… well… the tramp.  A stray mutt who relies on the kindness of random families for his supper, and is always dodging the dog catcher.  He wanders into Lady’s yard, is rebuffed, and eventually helps Lady out of a sticky situation, and falls in love with her.  He becomes the hero.

Jock and Trusty: Voiced by Bill Thompson and Bill Baucom, respectively.  They are neighborhood dogs, and Lady’s best friends. 

Peggy Lee: She voices a whole bunch of people, including “Darling”, the Siamese cats, and Peg the dog who sings “He’s a Tramp”.  So, she gets a “real” credit.  Oh, she also wrote all of the songs. 

OK, so here’s the rundown:

Jim Dear and Darling are celebrating Christmas, and Jim Dear gives Darling an adorable (seriously, the cute factor on this movie is ridiculous) cocker spaniel puppy who she names Lady.  After a futile attempt to keep Lady in the kitchen (it’s because she’s a female dog – if she were a he, he’d be in the living room or den or something…), Lady winds up sleeping in the bed with her people “just for the night”.  Which turns into months or something, of course. 
We see that Lady has a good relationship with her people.  They sing her praises, play with her, buy her a beautiful new collar, until they suddenly act all weird.  Darling snaps at Lady, even strikes her bottom (ANIMAL ABUSE!) and Jim Dear ignores her (typical man…) and Darling is humming weird little melodies to herself.  They’re pod people!  POD PEOPLE!!  No, Darling is just “in that condition” known as knocked up. 
As Lady discovers this, the Tramp wanders into her back yard, and talks about what a pain in the ass babies are.  Mostly because they take the attention away from the dogs.  Fair enough.
The baby is finally born, and shortly after, Jim Dear and Darling take a little vacation, and leave their baby and Lady in the hands of the evil Aunt Sarah, who brings her two eeeeviiil Siamese cats.  This is the only time I hate cats.  Even though they are kind of adorable themselves…
Well, they cause all kinds of problems, resulting in a trashed house, so of course Aunt Sarah goes to get Lady a muzzle.  Lady escapes, and runs into the Tramp who helps her get the muzzle off, then they spend a romantic evening on the town together, in the most famously romantic scene of all time:

It is implied that something less than honorable went down that night, but it’s so subtle, we’ll just leave it at that.
So, Lady winds up in the dog pound after a morning of chasing chickens, where she meets Peg who sings about the Tramp.  Lady is so embarrassed.  She got played, yo.

Eventually, Lady winds up back at her house, but in the back yard, chained up because Aunt Sarah is a cat-loving bitch.  She spies a rat headed to the baby’s room, barks her head off, and the Tramp comes to the rescue!  And Jim Dear and Darling return from their mini-vacay, just in time to find the Tramp in the baby’s room!  To the pound with you! 
BUT!  The rat!  They discover the rat, and Jock and Trusty run off to stop the carriage taking the Tramp to his fate.  Trusty gets run over, and we all think he’s dead, but this is Disney.  Only mothers die in early Disney flicks.
Flash to the next Christmas, where we see that Tramp has gotten himself some permanent digs and a shiny new collar, and he and Lady have been busy… gettin’ busy.  Adorable puppies everywhere!  And Trusty in a cast!  See, I told you he wasn’t dead!  And they all lived happily ever after.

This is one of the most charming movies ever made.  It holds a very special place in my heart.  It is stunning.  The animation, the colours, the music, all of it.  Perfection.  The whole thing is told from the point of view of the dogs, so few humans show their faces.  There is some great stuff about the class issues of the time (early 1900s Americana is the setting), and the music is spot-on.  Get over the fact that the Siamese cats are borderline racist – they are fucking hilarious. 

Mad props must be given to Peggy Lee, who is most famous for her sultry song “Fever”.  She co-wrote all of the songs, and voiced Darling, both the cats and Peg.  This really was kind of her baby, and I guess there were some royalty disputes in the ‘80s when home video took off.  Not sure if Disney settled, but really, she deserves it. 

So, again, if you haven’t seen this, DO IT. NOW!

That’s all she wrote… hopefully something good tomorrow! That’s a wrap!

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