And we call it bella notte. Disney’s Lady and the Tramp arrives on Blu-Ray as the latest addition to their remarkable Diamond Edition series. We’ve seen how features like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast look on Blu-Ray, but how about a feature from way back in 1955? Well, in short, it is glorious! This fits right in place alongside all the Disney treasures and love stories. Sure it’s not of the Princess/fantasy variety we’re used to seeing but still a wonderful tale for any fan of Disney films, or canines, or both. Kids have a lot thrown at them these days so sometimes you need a trip back to simpler times. Lady and the Tramp is just the ticket.
Josh Billings once said “In the whole history of the world there is but one things that money can not buy…to wit – the wag of a dog’s tail“. To which the writers, directors and artists behind Lady and the Tramp lovingly responded “so it is to all dogs – be they LADIES or TRAMPS that this picture is respectfully dedicated.” With so much heartfelt affection attributed to our canine companions great and small, every frame, character and smidgen of Lady and the Tramp speaks volumes to dog owners.
First off, things really look better than ever in this transfer. Starting with the opening titles you can practically feel the texture of the paper of the classic Buena Vista logo. As the music swells and fades to the charcoal drawing slide-show/opening credits, a wave of nostalgia is sure to wash over you, as well as a tear or two as it’s clear that they just don’t make movies like this anymore. But when a story endures the test of time, as is the case with Lady and the Tramp, revisiting it or seeing it for the first time is a treat to say the very least.
Disney is known for doing their homework to capture all the nuances and mannerisms of their subjects. Suffice to say, they have dogs licked. The research and work done in this heartwarming 1955 feature just sings and even if you’re not a dog owner/lover it’s impossible not to be won over by Lady (especially as a puppy). Her and the other dogs we crafted so spot on you’d think they were real animals. On a personal note, one thing that always fascinated me about cartoons from this era are the sensational background plates. It’s easy to spot top quality work when you see it and every location in this feature stands out even brighter now thanks to the BD transfer.
With so much work created digitally it’s almost unbelievable that all this (and the rest of the early Disney library) was done by hand. There’s not a single scene or cell that you couldn’t consider a work of art and have it framed as such…well maybe a few scenes with the rat but you get my point. Again, the background plates are amazing to look at and you can also see the pencil detail in every character’s outline. What really deserves more attention and praise (in this and pretty much every animated feature) is the ink and paint department which makes the 10s of thousands of frames look so consistent. Intricate and painstaking are superlatives that barely scratch the surface of the work done here and Blu-Ray really champions the efforts.
This feature has found a place in the hearts of children and Disney fans for decades. But Lady and the Tramp is not only just loved by fans, it was really a nostalgic indulgence for Walt Disney. For instance the story is actually based on his hometown of Marceline (just one of the endless tidbit you’ll find in the Special Features). Also included in this Diamond Edition are rare looks into Walt’s creative process, home videos and deleted songs and scenes that go to 1936 when this story was being developed. While this 1955 feature has a short runtime of 75 minutes the special features are easily 4 times that. You’d be hard pressed to find another single source for such a wealth of information.
Lady and the Tramp reminds us that things don’t have to be complicated to be endearing. Much like the attention span of a dog Lady and the Tramp keeps things short but sweet. The story, one we’ve heard hundreds of times before, is rather simple. It’s really only a breezy tail, er tale of two dogs from different sides of the tracks but is still endlessly charming. Even after nearly 60 years it is a delight and this Diamond Edition only makes it more so. Kids will assuredly love it as will adults but for your visual nuts, I challenge anyone to tell me they weren’t just blown away by the detail in the jaw-dropping and stunning HD restoration of this Disney classic. For all you Lady and the Tramp fans, whether you own the DVD or any other previous format, Disney has again done reverent justice to one of their most beloved classics making this Blu-Ray transfer a must own title.