Reel Reviews

Lady and the Tramp: Diamond Edition - Blu-ray Review

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Lady and the Tramp - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

Released in 1955, Disney’s Lady and the Tramp was the first ever animated feature to be geared for the true CinemaScope experience.  It was also the first to be told specifically from a canine’s point of view.  It’s all legs and feet all of the time; a dog’s eye view of the world.  It was fresh for Baby Boomers in 1955 and still, as witnessed on Disney’s Diamond Edition 2-disc Blu-ray release, incredibly fresh today thanks to the limitless offerings of their four-legged landscape.  Lady and the Tramp, directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, is a rollicking romance that isn’t afraid to go into dark alleys with its adventurous storytelling and has secured its place in cinematic history with its romanticized view of how to eat spaghetti

Based on a story idea from sketch animator Joe Grant, Lady and the Tramp is the story of how a sweet and innocent cocker spaniel named Lady (Barbara Luddy) gets pushed aside when her owners – Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and Darling (Peggy Lee) - welcome home a new baby.  It seems her happy life is over.

When a pair of neighborhood dogs, a Scottish Terrier named Jock (Bill Thompson) and a bloodhound named Trusty (Bill Baucom), fail to make her understand what is happening, a stray mutt named Tramp (Larry Roberts) takes over and paints things rather clearly.  She has no home.  After refusing a muzzle and getting into trouble with dog-hating Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton) and her two Siamese cats, Si and Am, Lady finds herself out on the streets.

It seems Tramp was right.

Determined to cheer her up, Tramp invites her to live his collar free life with Peg and Bull as they eat Italian scraps and dodge the dog catcher every night.  Ultimately, things lead back to Lady’s home as a rat, seeking shelter from a rain storm, runs straight into the baby’s room.  Tramp charges into action, but Aunt Sally fears the worse and the dog catcher is summoned.  Suddenly, loyalties are made clear and misunderstandings are righted in this heartwarming tale that has survived the test of time year after year as a Disney classic.

With music from Oliver Wallace, Lady and the Tramp sets the mood right and swings as easily as it sways.  Unfortunately, early critics saw the film as sub par and completely missed the point when they originally dismissed it.  No one forgot it; no one could shake the vicious animated dog fights, the lonely death march of one unlucky poodle, or the sensationally animated rat sequence.  On a lighter note, no one could shake pop singer Peggy Lee’s vibrant recording of Sonny Burke’s lines in “The Siamese Cat Song”, “He’s a Tramp” and “La La Lu” and sang the songs into America’s pop culture consciousness.

Is there a child out there not born aware of “The Siamese Cat Song”?  I think not.

Yet, it is the romantic “Bella Note” scene in which our two canine characters share a plate of spaghetti as they are serenaded by restaurant owner Tony (George Givot) and his assistant Joe (Bill Thompson, once again).  Here the animators, who have been consistently engaging with the dogs’ slightest movements, top even themselves and present the act of eating pasta as a gloriously awkward and supremely romantic gesture.  This is the scene that seals any argument about the power of animation.  It, at once, is classic and romantic.

Episodic with an overriding emotional theme, Lady and the Tramp offers its audience a wonderful time and while the animation might not be as crisp or as classic as Snow White or as digitized as Beauty and the Beast, the film is a definite crowd pleaser as Disney’s love letter to man’s best friend.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Lady and the Tramp - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: G for general audiences.
Director
: Clyde Geronimi; Wilfred Jackson; Hamilton Luske
Writer: Ward Greene; Erdman Penner; Joe Rinaldi; Ralph Wright; Don DaGradi    
Cast: Peggy Lee; Barbara Luddy; Larry Roberts; Bill Thompson; Stan Freberg
Genre: Family | Animated
Tagline:
She's blue ribbon... he's back-alley... and IT'S LOVE AND LAUGHTER... EVER AFTER!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Okay, okay, okay! But remember this, Pigeon, a human heart has only so much room for love and affection. When a baby moves in, the dog moves out."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Film Distribution Company
Release Date: June 16, 1995
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 7, 2012

Synopsis: In a small turn-of-the-century town, a couple designated by the names 'Jim Dear' and 'Darling' are celebrating Christmas. Darling is overjoyed to receive a Cocker Spaniel puppy, whom she names Lady.

Time passes, and Lady is well-taken care of by her owners, who delight in her company. At 6 months, she is given a collar with a license. Lady then goes to visit two neighboring dogs, Jacques and Trusty. Jacques is a wily Scottish Terrier, and Trusty is an old Bloodhound. The two compliment Lady on her new license, before Lady rushes off to greet Jim Dear, who has come home from work.

Time passes on, and one day, Jacques and Trusty come to visit Lady, and find her feeling depressed. Lady explains that something seems to have happened to Jim Dear and Darling. She then explains how one day after coming home, Jim Dear referred to her as 'that dog.' Another time, she tried to playfully take a ball of yarn from Darling, who then struck Lady. Jacques and Trusty soon explain to Lady, that her owners are expecting a baby. Lady is unsure what a baby is, but the two explain what they know. However, their speech is soon interrupted by a mangy grey dog named Tramp.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Lady and the Tramp - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

5 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - February 7, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.55:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 3.0; French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (DEHT); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (DEHT)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD, 2 DVDs); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy; BD-Live
Playback: Region A

While many have pooh-poohed Disney’s vault and re-release tactics, one thing is for certain: with each re-release, the digital restoration makes it appear, especially for youngsters, as if the movie was made today and just for them.  Yes, Lady and the Tramp’s 1080p transfer is completely flawless.  Encoded in AVC MPEG-4 in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.55:1, the film is a spectacular detail-riddled film that bursts with color and texture.  Fine detail is perfect throughout and, with only a couple of moments of soft focus, everything is clear and dominant.  No banding issues are present and black levels are deep, focused, and consistently defined.  Backgrounds are as pure as a Monet painting and as colorful.  The sound field – presented in a choice of English 7.1 DTS-HD MA or, for purists, English 3.0 DTS-HD MA – is stronger than ever.  While it won’t compete with today’s releases, the stereo is effectively panned out across the speaker range and dialogue is front-loaded with clarity.  All in all, a very good release from the vaults of Disney because it appears to be brand spanking new.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Pieced together from audio interviews with Walt Disney himself, the commentary is a nice plus for Disney fans.  It is strictly concerning the development of the film and is laced with good information pertaining to the animated process and the voice actors.  Good stuff.

Special Features:

There are a couple of DVD-rom only special features and a new batch of HD featurettes, but the rest has been ported over from the 50th anniversary release on DVD.  The HD features require an iPad or a laptop in order to access, but they are worth it.  First is a feature called Second Screen, a viewing feature that allows the audience to access great behind the scenes information, storyboards, and activities about the film.  Next is an introduction Walt’s daughter, Diane Miller, and is full of good anecdotes.  At only a minute, it’s not complete, but fun.  In “Backstage Disney”, we get more Diane Miller except this time she talks about her father and we also get three deleted scenes presented as storyboards only.  We also get a new song, "I'm Free as the Breeze" with lyrics By Ray Gilbert And Music By Eliot Daniel rounding out the wholly new HD content.

Here’s the breakdown along with the DVD content on the 2-disc Diamond Edition release of Lady and the Tramp.  Most are making of featurettes that explore the many attempts to get the film right before recognizing exactly what the story was.  The features also focus on the song writing.

Ported over from the 2006 release:

  • Lady’s Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp (53 min)
  • Finding Lady: The Art of the Storyboard (13 min)
  • 1943 Storyboard Version (12 min)
  • The Story of Dogs (18 min)
  • Cavalcade of Songs (21 min)
  • Puppypedia: Going to the Dogs (10 min)
  • “Bella Notte” Music Video (3 min)
  • 1955 Trailer
  • 1972 Trailer
  • 1986 Trailer
  • Diamond Edition Bonus Content:
  • Disney’s Second Screen (Feature Length)
  • Remembering Dad (8 min)
  • Three Deleted Storyboard Scenes (20 min)
  • “I’m Free As The Breeze” Bonus Song (2 min)
  • DVD Copy

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