Lady and the Tramp

Lady and the Tramp is a 1955 American animated musical romance film produced by Walt Disney and released by Buena Vista Film Distribution. The 15th Disney animated feature film, it was directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, and features the voices of Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Verna Felton, and Peggy Lee. Based on the 1945 Cosmopolitan magazine story "Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog" by Ward Greene, Lady and the Tramp tells the story of a female American Cocker Spaniel named Lady who lives with a refined, upper-middle-class family and a male stray mutt called Tramp. When the two dogs meet, they embark on many romantic adventures and fall in love.

Lady and the Tramp
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
  • Clyde Geronimi
  • Wilfred Jackson
  • Hamilton Luske
Story by
  • Erdman Penner
  • Joe Rinaldi
  • Ralph Wright
  • Don DaGradi
  • Joe Grant
Based on"Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog"
by Ward Greene
Produced byWalt Disney
Starring
  • Barbara Luddy
  • Larry Roberts
  • Bill Thompson
  • Dallas McKennon
  • Bill Baucom
  • Verna Felton
  • Peggy Lee
Edited byDon Halliday
Music byOliver Wallace
Production
company
Distributed byBuena Vista Film Distribution
Release date
  • June 22, 1955 (1955-06-22)
Running time
76 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$187 million[2]

Lady and the Tramp was released to theaters on June 22, 1955, to box office success. It was the first animated film to be filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process.,[3] as well as Disney's first animated film to be distributed by their Buena Vista division. It initially received mixed to negative reviews by film critics, but critical reception for the film has been generally positive in modern times, and the film is now seen as one of the best animated films from Disney. A direct-to-video sequel, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, was released on February 27, 2001, and a live-action/CGI hybrid remake premiered on November 12, 2019, as a launch title for the Disney+ streaming service.

Plot

On Christmas evening in the year 1909, in a quaint Midwestern town (visually inspired by Disney's hometown Marceline, Missouri), Jim Dear gives his wife Darling a cocker spaniel puppy, which they name Lady. Lady enjoys a joyful life with the couple and befriends two local neighborhood dogs, a Scottish terrier named Jock, and a bloodhound named Trusty. Meanwhile, across town, a stray mutt named Tramp lives on his own, dining on scraps from Tony's Italian restaurant and protecting his fellow strays Peg (a Pekingese) and Bull (a bulldog) from the local dog catcher. One day, Lady is upset after her owners begin treating her rather coldly. Jock and Trusty visit her and determine that their behavior change is due to Darling expecting a baby. While Jock and Trusty try to explain what a baby is, Tramp interrupts the conversation and offers his own thoughts on the matter, making Jock and Trusty take an immediate dislike to the stray and order him out of the yard. As Tramp leaves, he reminds Lady that "when a baby moves in, a dog moves out."

Eventually, the baby arrives, and the couple introduces Lady to the infant, of whom Lady becomes very fond and protective. When Jim Dear and Darling leave for a vacation, they put their dog-hating Aunt Sarah in charge of the baby and the house. Aunt Sarah's two trouble-making Siamese cats, Si and Am, deliberately mess up the house, knowing Lady will get in trouble for it, and then get her in even more trouble by tricking Aunt Sarah into thinking that Lady attacked them. Aunt Sarah then takes Lady to a pet shop to get a muzzle. Terrified, Lady flees the pet shop but is pursued by a trio of stray dogs. Tramp manages to rescue her, fighting off the vicious strays. Seeing the muzzle on Lady's head, Tramp decides to take her to the local zoo, where they find a beaver who removes the muzzle with his teeth. Later, Tramp shows Lady how he lives "footloose and collar-free," eventually leading into a candlelit dinner at Tony's. Lady begins to fall in love with Tramp, but she chooses to return home to watch over the baby. Tramp offers to escort Lady back home, but when Tramp decides to chase hens around a farmyard for fun, Lady is captured by the dog catcher and brought to the local dog pound. While at the pound, the other dogs reveal to Lady that Tramp has had multiple girlfriends in the past, and they feel it is unlikely that he will ever settle down. Lady is eventually claimed by Aunt Sarah, who chains her in the backyard as punishment for running away.

Jock and Trusty visit and try to comfort Lady, but when Tramp arrives to apologize, Lady berates him for having other girlfriends in the past and his failure to rescue her from the pound. Tramp sadly leaves, but immediately thereafter, a rat sneaks into the house. Lady sees the rat and barks frantically at it, but Aunt Sarah tells her to be quiet. Tramp hears her barking and rushes back, entering the house and cornering the rat in the nursery. Lady breaks free and rushes to the nursery, where Tramp inadvertently knocks over the baby's crib before ultimately killing the rat. The commotion alerts Aunt Sarah, who thinks they harmed the baby. She pushes Tramp into a closet and locks Lady in the basement, then calls the pound to take Tramp away. Jim Dear and Darling return home as the dog catcher departs, and when they release Lady, she leads them to the dead rat. Overhearing everything, Trusty and Jock chase after the dog catcher's wagon. The dogs track down the wagon and scare the horses, causing the wagon to crash. Jim Dear arrives in a taxi with Lady, who reunites with Tramp, but the wagon almost kills Trusty.

That Christmas, Tramp has been adopted into the family, and he and Lady have started their own family, with Lady having given birth to a litter of four puppies (three daughters who look identical to Lady and one son who looks identical to Tramp). Jock comes to see the family and Trusty, who is recovered and merely suffered a broken leg, and are formally welcomed as guests by the humans. Thanks to the puppies, Trusty has a fresh audience for his old stories, but he has forgotten them.

Cast

  • Barbara Luddy as Lady, an American Cocker Spaniel, who is the primary POV character in the film. A Christmas present to Darling from Jim Dear, she quickly becomes the center of their lives, but is then partly displaced by the birth of a human baby who she comes to love devotedly. Her experiences outside the household, and her encounter with Tramp force her to question the nature of her relationship with her humans (who she never sees as her owners), and give her a new understanding of the world around her, full of animals and humans, pleasures and dangers.
  • Larry Roberts as Tramp, a mixed breed dog of apparent Terrier ancestry, with a knack for dodging dog-catchers. He calls Lady "Pidge", short for Pigeon, which he calls her owing to her naivety. He never refers to himself by name, although most of the film's canine cast refer to him as the Tramp. It is not until the sequel in which any humans call him Tramp, and it is never explained why they "name" him with the very name he was known by on the streets. Tramp had other names in the film, and when asked by Lady about having a family, Tramp states that he has, "One for every day of the week. Point is, none of them have me." Each family mentioned called him a different name (such as Mike or Fritzi). The families also had different nationalities (such as Irish or German). As he did not belong to a single-family, Tramp implied that it was easier than the baby problems Lady was going through at the time. Roberts is succeeded by Jeff Bennett in the sequel.
  • Bill Thompson as Jock, a Scottish Terrier who is one of Lady's neighbors. Thompson also voiced Joe, Tony's assistant chef; Bull, a stray male bulldog from the dog pound who speaks with a slight Cockney accent; Dachsie, a stray male dachshund at the dog pound who speaks with a German accent; a policeman; and Jim's friend.
  • Bill Baucom as Trusty, a bloodhound who used to track criminals with his Grandpappy, Old Reliable, until he lost his sense of smell.
  • Verna Felton as Aunt Sarah, Jim Dear's aunt (revealed to be the sister of Jim Dear's mother in Ward Greene's novelization of the film) who comes to take care of the baby when Jim Dear and Darling leave for a few days. She is a well-meaning busybody of a maiden aunt who adores her Siamese cats but does not believe that dogs should be around babies. She blames both Lady and Tramp for the baby's crib being knocked over, not knowing that they were actually protecting the baby from a vicious rat. However, she sends a box of dog biscuits for Christmas in the final scene of the film in a presumed attempt to make amends for her mistreatment of the two dogs.
  • George Givot as Tony, the owner and chef of Tony's Italian restaurant. He and Joe both have great affection for Tramp.
  • Lee Millar as Jim Dear, the fatherly human figure and Darling's husband. Millar also voiced the Dogcatcher.
  • Peggy Lee as Darling, the motherly human figure and Jim Dear's wife. Lee also voiced Si and Am, Aunt's Sarah's twin Siamese cats with a knack for mischief and never-ending trouble; and Peg, a stray female Pekingese whom Lady meets at the pound (along with the other dog inmates she was put in a cage with). The names of Si and Am are a pun on the country of Siam. It is implied that Peg had a relationship with Tramp in the past, through the lyrics of the song she sings (He's a Tramp). Peg was formerly from the "Dog and Pony Follies" (dog and pony show); either the show ended or she was left behind. Peg has a Brooklyn Accent.
  • Stan Freberg as the beaver, a clever, hard-working beaver at the zoo who speaks with a lisp. He gnaws off the muzzle that Aunt Sarah had placed upon Lady after Tramp realizes that the muzzle is just what the beaver needs for pulling logs. This character would later serve as the inspiration for Gopher from Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), down to the speech pattern (a whistling sound when he makes the "S" sound). Stan Freberg, who voiced the beaver in the film, had an extensive background in commercial and comedy recording voice-overs and soundtracks. On the 2-Disc Platinum Edition DVD, he demonstrates how it was done and that a whistle was eventually used because it was hard to continue repeating the effect.
  • Alan Reed as Boris, a stray male Borzoi from the dog pound. He speaks with a Russian accent.
  • Thurl Ravenscroft as Al the alligator, an alligator that Tramp asks to remove the muzzle from Lady. However, he instead almost bites Lady's head off.
  • Dallas McKennon as Toughy, a stray male mutt from the dog pound. He speaks with a slight Brooklyn accent, like Peg. McKennon also voiced Pedro, a stray male Chihuahua from the dog pound who speaks with a Mexican accent; a professor, and a laughing hyena.
  • The Mellomen (Thurl Ravenscroft, Bill Lee, Max Smith, Bob Hamlin and Bob Stevens) as Dog Chorus

Production

Story development

In 1937, Walt Disney Productions story artist Joe Grant came up with an idea inspired by the antics of his English Springer Spaniel Lady, and how she got "shoved aside" by Joe's new baby. He approached Walt Disney with sketches of Lady. Disney enjoyed the sketches and commissioned Grant to start story development on a new animated feature titled Lady.[4] Through the late 1930s and early 1940s, Joe Grant and other artists worked on the story, taking a variety of approaches, but Disney was not pleased with any of them, primarily because he thought Lady was too sweet, and there was not enough action.[4]

Walt Disney read the short story written by Ward Greene, titled "Happy Dan, the Cynical Dog", in the Cosmopolitan magazine, published in 1945.[5][6] He thought that Grant's story would be improved if Lady fell in love with a cynical dog character like the one in Greene's story, and bought the rights to it.[7] The cynical dog had various names during development, including Homer, Rags, and Bozo, before "Tramp" was chosen.[5]

The finished film is slightly different from what was originally planned. Lady was to have only one next-door neighbor, a Ralph Bellamy-type canine named Hubert. Hubert was later replaced with Jock and Trusty. Aunt Sarah was the traditional overbearing mother-in-law. In the final film, she is softened to a busybody who, though antagonistic towards Lady and Tramp, is well-meaning (she sends a packet of dog biscuits to the dogs at Christmas to apologize for mistreating them). Aunt Sarah's Nip and Tuck were later renamed Si and Am.[5] Originally, Lady's owners were called Jim Brown and Elizabeth. These were changed to highlight Lady's point of view. They were briefly referred to as "Mister" and "Missis" before settling on the names "Jim Dear" and "Darling". To maintain a dog's perspective, Darling and Jim's faces are rarely shown, similar to Tom's various owners in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The rat was a somewhat comic character in early sketches, but became a great deal more frightening, due to the need to raise dramatic tension. A scene created but then deleted was one in which after Trusty says "Everybody knows, a dog's best friend is his human", Tramp describes a world in which the roles of both dogs and humans are switched; the dogs are the masters and vice versa.[4] There was a love triangle among Lady, Tramp, and a Russian wolfhound named Boris (who appears in the dog pound in the final version).[8]

The film's opening sequence, in which Darling unwraps a hat box on Christmas morning and finds Lady inside, is inspired by an incident when Walt Disney presented his wife Lily with a Chow puppy as a gift in a hat box to make up for having previously forgotten a dinner date with her.[9]

In 1949, Grant left the studio, yet Disney story men were continually pulling Grant's original drawings and story off the shelf to retool.[4] A solid story began taking shape in 1953,[7] based on Grant's storyboards and Greene's short story.[4] Greene later wrote a novelization of the film that was released two years before the film itself, at Walt Disney's insistence, so that audiences would be familiar with the story.[10] Due to Greene's novelization, Grant did not receive film credit for his story work, an issue that animation director Eric Goldberg hoped to rectify in the Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition's behind-the-scenes vignette that explained Grant's role.[4]

Singer Peggy Lee not only voiced four characters but co-wrote six songs for the film.[11]

Animation

As they had done with deer on Bambi, the animators studied many dogs of different breeds to capture the movement and personality of dogs. Although the spaghetti eating sequence is probably now the best-known scene from the film, Walt Disney was prepared to cut it, thinking that it would not be romantic and that dogs eating spaghetti would look silly. Animator Frank Thomas was against Walt's decision and animated the entire scene himself without any lay-outs. Walt was impressed by Thomas's work and how he romanticized the scene and kept it in.[4] On viewing the first take of the scene, the animators felt that the action should be slowed down, so an apprentice trainee was assigned to create "half numbers" in between many of the original frames.[12]

Originally, the background artist was supposed to be Mary Blair and she did some inspirational sketches for the film. However, she left the studio to become a children's book illustrator in 1953. Claude Coats was then appointed as the key background artist. Coats made models of the interiors of Jim Dear and Darling's house, and shot photos and film at a low perspective as reference to maintain a dog's view.[10] Eyvind Earle (who later became the art director of Disney's Sleeping Beauty) did almost 50 miniature concept sketches for the "Bella Notte" sequence and was a key contributor to the film.[10]

CinemaScope

Originally, Lady and the Tramp was planned to be filmed in a regular full frame aspect ratio. However, due to the growing interest of widescreen film among movie-goers, Disney decided to animate the film in CinemaScope making Lady and the Tramp the first animated feature filmed in the process.[5] This new innovation presented additional problems for the animators: the expansion of space created more realism but gave fewer closeups.[7] It also made it difficult for a single character to dominate the screen so that groups had to be spread out to keep the screen from appearing sparse.[5] Longer takes become necessary since constant jump-cutting would seem too busy or annoying.[3] Layout artists essentially had to reinvent their technique. Animators had to remember that they had to move their characters across a background instead of the background passing behind them.[7] Yet the animators overcame these obstacles during the action scenes, such as Tramp killing the rat.[3]

More problems arose as the premiere date got closer since not all theaters had the capability to show CinemaScope at the time. Upon learning this, Walt issued two versions of the film: one in widescreen, and another in the Academy ratio. This involved gathering the layout artists to restructure key scenes when characters were on the edges of the screen.[13]

Release

Lady and the Tramp was originally released to theaters on June 22, 1955. An episode of Disneyland called "A Story of Dogs" aired before the film's release.[14] The film was also reissued to theaters in 1962, 1972, 1980, and 1986.[15] Lady and the Tramp also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theatres from February 16–18, 2013.[16]

Home media

Lady and the Tramp was first released on North American VHS cassette and Laserdisc in 1987 as part of the Walt Disney Classics video series and in the United Kingdom in 1990. At the end of its initial home video release, it was reported to have sold more than three million copies, becoming the best-selling videocassette at the time.[17] It went into moratorium on March 31, 1988.[18] The video cassette had grossed $100 million in sales by 1988. Peggy Lee was asked to help promote the release, for which she was paid $500.[19] After its release on videotape, she sought performance and song royalties on the video sales. Disney CEO Michael Eisner refused, thus she filed suit in 1988. Eventually in 1992, the California Court of Appeals order Disney to pay Lee $3.2 million in compensation or about 4% of the video sales.[11]

It was released on VHS again in 1998 as part of the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video series. A Disney Limited Issue series DVD of the film was released on November 23, 1999 for a limited sixty-day time period.[20]

Lady and the Tramp was remastered and restored for DVD on February 28, 2006, as the seventh installment of Disney's Platinum Editions series.[21] On its first day, one million copies of the Platinum Edition were sold.[22] The Platinum Edition DVD went on moratorium on January 31, 2007, along with the 2006 DVD re-issue of the film's sequel Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure.[23]

Lady and the Tramp was released on Blu-ray on February 7, 2012 as a part of Disney's Diamond Editions series.[24] A standalone 1-disc DVD edition was released on March 20, 2012.[25][26]

Lady and the Tramp was re-released on Digital HD on February 20, 2018, and on Blu-ray February 27, 2018, as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection line.[27]

Reception

Critical reception

During its initial release, the film was initially panned by critics.[28] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times claimed the film was "not the best [Disney] has done in this line. The sentimentality is mighty, and the CinemaScope size does not make for any less aware of the thickness of the goo. It also magnifies the animation, so that the flaws and poor foreshortening are more plain. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the artists' work is below par in this film."[29] Time wrote "Walt Disney has for so long parlayed gooey sentiment and stark horror into profitable cartoons that most moviegoers are apt to be more surprised than disappointed to discover that the combination somehow does not work this time."[30] However, Variety deemed the film "a delight for the juveniles and a joy for adults".[31] Harrison's Reports felt the "scintillating musical score and several songs, the dialogue and the voices, the behaviors and expressions of the different characters, the mellow turn-of-the-century backgrounds, the beautiful color and sweep of the CinemaScope process — all these add up to the one of the most enjoyable cartoon features Disney has ever made."[32] Edwin Schallert of the Los Angeles Times described the film as a "delightful, haunting, charmed fantasy that is remarkably enriched with music and, incidentally, with rare conversations among the canine characters."[33]

However, the film has since gone on to become regarded as a classic. Dave Kehr, writing for The Chicago Tribune gave the film four stars.[34] Animation historian Charles Solomon praised the film.[35] The sequence of Lady and Tramp sharing a plate of spaghetti — climaxed by an accidental kiss as they swallow opposite ends of the same strand of spaghetti — is considered an iconic scene in American film history.[36] The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received a 93% approval rating, with an average rating of 7.90/10, based on 42 reviews. The website's consensus states, "A nostalgic charmer, Lady and the Tramp's token sweetness is mighty but the songs and richly colored animation are technically superb and make for a memorable experience."[37]

Lady and the Tramp was named number 95 out of the "100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time" by the American Film Institute in their 100 Years...100 Passions special, as one of only two animated films to appear on the list, along with Disney's Beauty and the Beast which ranked 34th.[38] In 2010, Rhapsody called its accompanying soundtrack one of the all-time great Disney and Pixar soundtracks.[39] In June 2011, TIME named it one of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".[40]

Box office

In its initial release, the film took in a higher figure than any other Disney animated feature since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,[14] earning an estimated $6.5 million in distributor rentals.[41] When it was re-released in 1962, it grossed roughly between $6 million and $7 million. During its 1971 re-release, the film grossed $10 million, and when it was re-released again in 1980, it grossed $27 million.[42] During its fourth re-release in 1986, it garnered $31.1 million.[43]

Lady and the Tramp has had a domestic lifetime gross of $93.6 million,[1][44] and a lifetime international gross of $187 million.[2]

Accolades

Year Ceremony Award Result
1956 BAFTA Awards[45] Best Animated Film Nominated
David di Donatello Awards[46] Best Foreign Producer
(Walt Disney)
Won
2006 Satellite Awards[47] Best Youth DVD Nominated
American Film Institute Lists
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – Nominated[48]
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – No. 95
  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
    • He's a Tramp – Nominated[49]
  • AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals – Nominated[50]
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Animated Film[51]

Music

Lady and the Tramp
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedSeptember 9, 1997
GenreClassical
Length48:00
LabelWalt Disney
ProducerTed Kryczko (executive)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[52]

The score for the film was composed and conducted by Oliver Wallace. It was the last Disney animated film for which Oliver Wallace did the score, as the scores for the next six Disney animated films were composed by George Bruns, starting with Sleeping Beauty until Robin Hood. Recording artist Peggy Lee wrote the songs with Sonny Burke and assisted with the score as well.[5] In the film, she sings "La La Lu", "The Siamese Cat Song", and "He's a Tramp".[53] She helped promote the film on the Disney TV series, explaining her work with the score and singing a few of the film's numbers.[5] These appearances are available as part of the Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition DVD set.

On November 16, 1988, Peggy Lee sued the Walt Disney Company for breach of contract, claiming that she retained the rights to transcriptions of the music, arguing that videotape editions were transcriptions.[54] After a protracted legal battle, she was awarded $2.3 million in 1991.[55]

The remastered soundtrack of Lady and the Tramp was released on CD by Walt Disney Records on September 9, 1997, and was released as a digital download on September 26, 2006.[56]

Songs

All tracks are written by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee.

No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."Bella Notte"George Givot & The Disney Studio Chorus 
2."Peace on Earth"Donald Novis & The Disney Studio Chorus 
3."What Is a Baby"Barbara Luddy 
4."La La Lu"Peggy Lee 
5."The Siamese Cat Song"Peggy Lee 
6."Bella Notte"George Givot & The Disney Studio Chorus 
7."He's a Tramp"Peggy Lee & The Mellomen 
8."Finale (Peace on Earth)"Donald Novis & The Disney Studio Chorus 

Other media

Sequel

On February 27, 2001, Disney Television Animation released a direct-to-video sequel to the film titled Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure. Produced 46 years after its predecessor and set two years and a few months after the events of the first film, it centers on the adventures of Lady and Tramp's only son, Scamp, who desires to be a wild dog. He runs away from his family and joins a gang of junkyard dogs to fulfill his longing for freedom and a life without rules. Reviews for the sequel were generally mixed to negative, with critics panning its plot.

Live-action remake

Walt Disney Pictures produced a live-action remake of the film with Justin Theroux and Tessa Thompson in the voice roles of Tramp and Lady respectively.[57][58][59] The movie premiered on Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, on its US launch date of November 12, 2019.[60]

Disney Parks and Resorts

Walt Disney wanted the setting of the film to be Marceline, Missouri which had been his childhood hometown. Whilst Lady and the Tramp was in production, Walt was also designing Disneyland in California and styled the Main Street, U.S.A. area of the park to Marceline. Tony's Town Square Restaurant is an Italian restaurant inspired by Lady and the Tramp and is located at Walt Disney World, whilst the Pizzeria Bella Notte restaurant is at Disneyland Paris.

See also

  • 1955 in film
  • List of American films of 1955
  • List of Walt Disney Pictures films
  • List of Disney theatrical animated features
  • List of animated feature films of the 1950s
  • List of highest-grossing animated films

References

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