Disney's 'Lady and the Tramp' Still Connects with Modern Audiences

Lady and the Tramp returns to home video in a new Diamond Edition. There are some new nuggets to be mined here, including never-before-seen deleted scenes and a nice remembrance of Walt Disney by his daughter, Diane Disney Miller.

Lady and the Tramp

Distributor: Disney
Cast: Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
Rated: NR
Year: 1955
Release date: 2012-02-07

As luck would have it, Lady and the Tramp screened recently at my daughter's school as part of their regular Friday movie nights. Would the film still hold the attention of today's jaded grade school kids weaned on a steady diet of Disney Channel and videogames? Happily, I can say yes, just like the grade school kids of my childhood were weaned on Atari and MTV and yet could still appreciate animated classics.

The film may seem quaint now in its storytelling and cultural stereotypes, but it still holds up as a basic tale of "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins the girl back by saving a baby from a nasty rat." In some ways, Lady and the Tramp is a more sophisticated version of a Warner Bros. cartoon, particularly when the Siamese cats show up and begin wreaking havoc that's blamed on Lady.

As far as Disney films go, this one lacks the fairy-tale-with-polish veneer of something like Cinderella, and it falls short of the deep pathos found in the likes of Pinocchio and Bambi, but it still displays the storytelling chops that Walt's original crew was capable of. The story is fairly basic: Lady is a cocker spaniel who's the center of her owners' lives until the couple is expecting a baby, at which point she takes a back seat. Tramp is a charismatic stray who's used to living by his wits on the streets.

The two meet and Lady finds herself attracted to Tramp's devil-may-care lifestyle, given the mistreatment she receives at home when a relative of her owners shows up to watch the baby for a weekend and brings a pair of fiendish Siamese cats with her. The dogcatcher almost manages to bring major misfortune into their lives, and Lady eventually decides that Tramp's life isn't for her. Tramp, though, proves he's worthy of living in her world when he saves the baby during the climax of the story.

Disney is notorious for putting its films through umpteen home video editions ("last chance to own before it goes back in the vault" is particularly obnoxious), so this Diamond Edition is likely not the last we've seen of Lady and the Tramp on physical media. This one is a combo pack with a Blu-ray and a standard-def DVD; both contain the film, but the regular DVD only has a pair of bonus features: Diane Disney Miller's remembrance of her father and PuppyPedia: Going to the Dogs, a Fred Willard-hosted piece that I assume played on Disney Channel at some point. PuppyPedia is cute, with its overview of the various types of dogs and Willard's goofy banter, but even my four-year-old grew bored with it quickly.

I should digress to note that there's also a Diamond Edition that has the Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy of the film, so you can watch it on a computer without a disc or transfer it to a mobile device. The Blu-ray has both of those pieces and a whole lot more, much of which was ported over from an earlier DVD release, so if you still have that, you may not find this worth the upgrade. (The improved picture quality in a Blu-ray is really only noticeable on larger HDTVs, unless you're standing right next to the screen and want to nitpick every little thing.) The old stuff includes a batch of deleted scenes, a music video, 45 minutes worth of Disneyland TV excerpts that pertain to the film, and some making-of materials.

The centerpiece of the making-of features is Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp, which runs almost an hour and looks at the creation of the film from start to finish. It's worthwhile watching for any Disney enthusiast. Finding Lady: The Art of Storyboard looks specifically at the way storyboards were used to build the film's story, and how that method later influenced other filmmakers. And once you've watched that, you'll enjoy the original 1943 storyboard that runs almost 12 minutes and has some Disney animators doing the voices for a rough pass on the story.

The bonus features that are new to this release include three never-before-seen deleted scenes (there's a surprising amount of deleted scenes for an animated film, which I suppose shows the growing pains this movie went through during development) and a song that was discarded early and wasn't performed for a permanent recording until now. There's also an audio commentary you can access while watching the movie; it features voice actors recreating the film's development meetings, using the transcripts from them. (Like George Lucas, Walt Disney was obviously a pack rat.)

I should note that the Diane Disney Miller's remembrance of her father is new to this release, too. She not only talks about her father, but also delves into the opening of Disneyland at the time the movie premiered. It's a nice trip down memory lane. I wonder what Walt would think of the media empire that bears his name today.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.