Lady and the Tramp has to be one of the most iconic of Disney films. Though the 1955 feature may not be among the best features from the House of Mouse, it has enough charm to it to warrant its iconic status.
Lady and the Tramp tells the story of two dogs: Lady, a Cocker Spaniel who lives a ritzy life with an upper-middle-class family (whom she refers to as “Jim Dear” and “Darling,” after the pet names the couple call each other), and the Tramp, a stray mutt just trying to get by.
After Lady’s owners have a new baby, life begins to change for the pampered pup, as she begins to realize she’s getting less attention than she once did, though she loves her family, and the new baby. Lady’s life gets turned upside down, however, when Jim Dear and Darling take a trip, leaving Lady and the baby in the care of “Aunt Sarah,” a ghastly crone with a disdain for dogs.
Not only is Aunt Sarah trouble, but so are her two Siamese cats, who tear up the place and blame it on Lady. Aunt Sarah goes to a pet shop to get Lady a muzzle, which results in the family’s beloved dog running away. After getting lost, Lady becomes acquainted with the Tramp, who helps her get by in life without humans, and the two begin an adventurous romance. All the while, Lady hopes to find a way back home.
It’s simple stuff, but like most Disney movies, the animal characters are cute and easily win the audience over, and it’s a charming enough story to delight both children and adults. It’s true that Disney movies reached a whole new level of entertainment value during their “Renaissance” era of the 1990s, and its only been in recent years that the non-Pixar animated features from Disney have reached a greater level of sophistication in their storytelling. So Lady and the Tramp falls under the umbrella of simplicity that was Disney’s 1950’s output, but again, it has the right amount of charm to bring smiles to faces (especially if you’re a dog lover like myself, though this makes the dog pound scene twice as heartbreaking).
The film is well animated, as you would expect from Disney, though their are some notably choppy moments in editing. But the animals all have a fluidity to their movements, and like most Disney features, the animators gave them as much personality in their appearance as the actors did in their voices.
Lady and the Tramp is also notable for including some of the most iconic scenes in not only Disney’s library, but in all of American cinema. The famous spaghetti scene has been paid homage and parodied countless times through the decades, to the point that younger audiences may not realize that it originated here.
Lady and the Tramp is too simple to be ranked among the absolute best Disney animated features, but it’s filled with so many delightful little moments and cute animal characters that it hardly matters. It’s a sweet, innocently romantic movie that remains heartwarming even today.