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Feature


Lady (Barbara Luddy) is a love-spoiled cocker spaniel living an idealistic Victorian era house. One day, her owners, known only as Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and Darling (Peggy Lee), begin to act strange and distant. Lady’s friends Jock, a Scottish Terrier (Bill Thompson), and Trusty, a bloodhound (Bill Baucom), explain that Jim Dear and Darling are expecting a child and that it’s nothing for her to worry about. Meanwhile, a homeless dog aptly named Tramp (Larry Roberts) ends up on the wealthy side of town running from the dogcatcher and is taken by Lady’s beauty. He explains that a baby is the first sign of Lady’s owners losing interest in her. Soon after, Jim Dear and Darling take a holiday and leave Lady and their newborn child with Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton) and her misbehaving Siamese cats (Peggy Lee, again). Lady’s situation takes a turn for the worst and she’s soon on the street, where Tramp tries to convince her to stay.

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection
Lady and the Tramp was made at an interesting time in the development of Disney animation. The studio had enough hits under their hats to both established a pattern and opened the door for slightly more adult-oriented themes. Walt and his animation directors (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske in this case) weren’t quite confident enough to tell a mature story about human beings struggling with romance and heartbreak, but they do apply relative sophistication to the title characters’ romantic escapades, which are often favourably compared to the best of their live action, human counterparts. The cute dog’s point of view (an aspect that is maintained visually throughout, as most human interaction takes place below the knee) is specifically designed to disguise the film’s admittedly half-baked messages about social classes (wealthy vs. poor/male vs. female) and acknowledgments of ‘birds, bees, and storks.’ Of course, the filmmakers weren’t afraid to traumatize their youngest audience members with some blatantly bleak reminders of mortality and injustice, such as the ‘long walk’ that occurs when Lady first enters the pound. It’s actually sort of amusing to think of how many generations of children learned to see dog catchers as villains, instead of the autocratic law enforcement authorities they’ve often represented.

As far as its artistic achievements, Lady and the Tramp is perhaps one of Disney’s more underrated efforts. The animation sits somewhere between the high budget technical perfection they developed for Sleeping Beauty (released four years later in 1959) and the looser, more expressive animation of their ‘60s, specifically animal-centric entries, like 101 Dalmatians (1961) and The Jungle Book (1967). The scenes that focus on the dogs as emotive animals – rather than anthropomorphic – English-speaking creatures have aged gracefully, such as early sequences where Lady reacts to her owners’ discussion and emotes without the benefit of dialogue, or the rainy, expressionistic climax, where Tramp battles a rat and is later rescued by Jock and Trusty. Lady and the Tramp was also the first (and I believe only) animated feature to use the CinemaScope widescreen process – a particularly stunning choice, following decades of 1.37:1 Academy Ratio releases. Most of the character animation stays well within the confines of the center of the screen, ensuring that nothing vital was lost when the film was shown in smaller theaters or on television, where it would be reframed at 1.33:1. Still, the ultra-wide ratio added considerable cinematic heft at a time when feature animation had lost some of its novelty.

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

Video


Disney has recycled their Diamond Edition HD remaster for this new release. As stated above, Lady and the Tramp is known for being the first animated feature to be filmed using the CinemaScope widescreen process, which means this 1080p Blu-ray is framed at an ultra-wide 2.55:1 aspect ratio ( Sleeping Beauty is the other ultra-wide Disney animated feature of the era, though it was filmed using the 70mm Technirama process, making it even more spectacular in HD). While the scope is nice, the sheer detail level is the key component here. The differences in texture between the soft, poppy cells and rougher, more complex backgrounds are particularly striking. At best, the deep, wide canvas creates a pseudo-three-dimensional look during wide-angle shots. Grain levels are fine, but not entirely ironed out, as they had been in some of the earliest Disney HD masters. You can see plenty of charming, handmade imperfections throughout the print, as well. Colour quality is somewhat muted compared to the studio’s most stylized releases, but quite eclectic, consistent, and, when necessary, vibrant.

Audio


Disney has included the Diamond Edition’s newly remixed 7.1 mix and the original 3.0 mix, also presented in the form of an uncompressed DTS-HD Master Audio. Most theaters at the time of release (and perhaps even re-release) were only capable of mono, so I presume there was a single channel version prepared as well that was deemed unnecessary. The remix matches the high standard of the studio’s other classic animation releases in that it accounts for the original mix’s design, gently enhances the stereo elements, and sharpening dynamic range. There’s not a lot in the way of rear channel elements; rather, the back speakers mostly communicate atmospheric ambience and, along with the LFE, pump up Oliver Wallace’s original score. The 3.0 track has no ‘ghost’ rear speaker effect, unlike some 2.0 mixes, making it a fully frontal mix, and generally less warm and ‘roomy’ than the remix. Still, it’s nice to experience these older Disney productions in their then-revolutionary surround sound and the discrete center channel dialogue/incidental effects track helps to differentiate between dialogue, effects, and music.

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

Extras


  • Sing-Along Mode – An in-film option to watch the movie with sing-along subtitles for the songs. There is also a ‘Song Selection’ option that allows the viewer to watch the sing-along sections in a row (9:59)
  • Inside Walt’s Story Meetings – Another in-film option to listen to story session reenactments, in place of a normal commentary track I suppose. It includes occasional PiP stills and is presented in Dolby Digital stereo.
  • Walt & His Dogs (8:27, HD) – Disney himself describes a lifetime of his pet dogs via archival recordings and photos.
  • Stories from Walt’s Office (6:02, HD) – A tour of Disney’s office suite on the Studio lot, which has been carefully re-created by archivists in honour of the man’s birthday.
  • How to Make a Meatball and Other Fun Facts About Lady and The Tramp (9:06, HD) – Teen chef Amber Kelley and Oh My Disney Show host Alexys Gabrielle offer a cooking lesson for the kids.
  • Diamond Edition archive extras:
    • Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad (7:51, HD) – Walt’s daughter shares memories of her father and Disneyland’s early days.
    • Three deleted scene storyboard animatics with intros (19:11, HD)
    • “I’m Free as the Breeze” deleted/never recorded song (1:26, HD)
  • Trailers for other Disney releases

Other archival extras from the Diamond and Platinum releases are only available via digital copy download.

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

Overall


Has anyone else noticed the similarities between Lady and the Tramp and the final story of Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye? Both feature an unjustly maligned domesticated creature (a dog in one case, a cat in the other) that is redeemed when it rescues a child from a small, malevolent creature. Perhaps King had the Disney movie in mind when he wrote it? Anyway, this Signature Edition Blu-ray doesn’t really improve on the previous Diamond Edition version. The A/V is identical, the new extras are pretty fluffy, and the superior (though not HD) older extras are relegated to digital download. Still, it’s a solid presentation and a great movie, so, if you don’t already own the previous version, it’s certainly worth picking this one up.

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection

 Lady and the Tramp: Signature Collection
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray, then resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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