Lady and the Tramp
On Christmas morning, a man gives his wife a cocker spaniel puppy, and she instantly adores it, declaring her a “perfectly beautiful little lady!” Lady becomes the puppy’s name, and she is pampered and loved by “Jim Dear” and “Darling”. She rarely leaves her yard, but she becomes friends with the other dogs who live nearby, including her neighbors Jock, a peppy Scotty, and former police dog Trusty. She also meets the Tramp, a stray mutt who lives on the streets, begging for food and hiding from the dogcatcher. But when a new baby arrives, Lady begins to feel isolated, and when a meddling aunt tries to muzzle her she decides that she’s had enough, and she runs away with the Tramp for a life of freedom and adventure.
Little known fact: Lady and the Tramp was the first widescreen animated feature ever produced.
As you know, I am not into animal movies. I had very low expectations going into this. I knew that I had seen the movie fairly often as a child – we had it on VHS – and yet I could remember very little about it, which I thought surely boded ill. But Lady and the Tramp surprised me. Yes, it’s an animal movie, but it miles above and beyond Disney trainwrecks like The Aristocats and Home on the Range.
First of all, it’s a movie about dogs – and they act like freakin’ dogs. Their canine qualities are present in the way they move, react, and reason. Lady’s big eyes and puppy eagerness remind me of the pack of springer spaniels at my mother-in-law’s house. Jock’s excitability reminds me of every tiny dog I’ve seen that thinks it’s a big dog. The Siamese cats – racist little bastards that they are – capture the strange capriciousness of cats perfectly.
I love that Lady thinks of her humans as “Jim Dear” and “Darling”. A small part of me can’t help but wonder what the actual name of Jim’s wife is, but of course it doesn’t matter in the context of the film. It’s just a silly little joke, and when you’re a kid, it’s not a particularly obvious one. At least, I never got it.
The story is cute, but there are some brilliant little moments. That first night, when Jim Dear tries to get Lady to sleep in the kitchen, only to give up after the puppy follows him up to his room – it had me cracking up. Lady just looked too adorable! You knew from that moment on that she was going to be a little pampered princess, which made her eventual ‘demotion’ all the more tragic for her little puppy heart. The spaghetti scene is legendary; the kiss at the end of a string of spaghetti has become iconic.
I was just surprised by how much I liked and approved of this movie. It’s not a favorite, but Lady and the Tramp was so much better than I remembered.
But I’m still not a fan of animal movies!