The Lady and the Tramp is a 1955 American animated film produced by Walt Disney. It is Disney’s 15th animated film featuring the voices of Larry Roberts, Barbara Luddy, and Bill Thomspon, etc. The film was released on June 22, 1955, to box office success.
Although the movie received negative reviews from critics back then but in modern times, it has managed to receive positive reviews. Catering to especially the young, The Lady and the Tramp was one of the most successful movies of its time. Let’s take a look into what made the movie settle so well amongst its viewers.
The movie is based on a cocker spaniel puppy named Lady, which is presented as a gift by an individual named Jim Dear to his wife Darling. Lady loves spending time with the couple and befriends two local neighborhood dogs, Jock and Trusty.
Meanwhile, across the town, a stray mutt named Tramp lives on his own, eating the leftovers from Tony’s Italian Restaurant and protecting his fellow stray friends Peg and Bull from the dog catcher.
One day, Lady becomes upset due to her owners treating her harshly. Upon Jock’s and Trusty’s visit to the Lady, they determine that the behavior of the owners is due to Darling expecting a baby.
While they try to explain the idea to Lady, Tramp interrupts and offers his take as well. As a result, Jock and Trusty force him out of the yard. While leaving, Tramp says “when a baby moves in, a dog moves out”.
Upon the baby’s arrival, the couple introduces the infant to the Lady, who grows fond and protective. While the couple leaves for a vacation, they leave the baby and Lady with their dog-hating aunt Sarah. Sarah along with her two Siamese cats deliberately creates problems knowing that Lady will be blamed.
Moreso, the cats also trick Sarah into thinking that Lady attacked them. As a result, Sarah takes Lady to get a muzzle. A terrified Lady makes an escape and is chased by a pack of stray dogs.
Tramp comes to her rescue and saves her from the stray dogs. Observing the muzzle on Lady’s head, Tramp takes her to a local zoo where a beaver removes the muzzle. Then, Tramp showcases to Lady how he lives collar-free and eats dinner at Tony’s.
Meanwhile, Lady starts to fall in love with Tramp who offers to company her while returning home. However, while Tramp chases hens for fun, Lady gets trapped by the dog catcher and brought to the local pound.
At the pound, the other dogs reveal that Tramp has had several girlfriends over the years and it is unlikely that he will ever settle down. Eventually, Sarah brings Lady home and chains her in the backyard as punishment for running away.
Jock and Trusty visit Lady to comfort her while Tramp also arrives, apologizing but is berated by Lady for having multiple affairs. As a result, Tramp leaves with a sad face. At the same time, a rat enters the house and Lady starts to bark. However, Sarah tells her to keep quiet.
Upon hearing Lady’s barking, Tramp rushes back and corners the rat while knocking over the baby’s crib. Sarah is alarmed by the commotion and assumes that the baby is harmed. As a result, she locks Lady in the basement while tramp into a closet waiting for the pound to take Tramp away.
Upon Jim Dear and Darling’s return, the dog catcher departs and Lady is set free. She then leads the couple to the dead rat while Trusty and Jockey chase the dog catcher’s wagon.
The dogs manage to track down the wagon and scare the horses, which leads to the wagon crashing. Meanwhile, Jim Dear along with Lady arrive in a taxi who reunites with Tramp but Trusty is almost killed by the wagon. That Christmas, Tramp is also adopted by the family who forms a couple with Lady.
They give birth to four puppies who are given a visit by Jock and Trusty. Trusty is recovering from a broken leg and has a fresh audience to share his old stories but has forgotten them.
The film’s story development underwent several stages. Initially, Walt Disney and story artist Joe Grant came up with the idea of a dog named Lady who is shoved aside by Joe’s new baby. Joe Grant was inspired by the antics of his dog.
As a result, Grant brought sketches to Disney, who was impressed with the sketches but not the story. Therefore, throughout the 30s and early 40s, Joe Grant along with other artists worked on developing an appealing story.
Then, Disney read Ward Greene’s short story titled “Happy Dan, the Cynical Dog” and bought rights to it. The cynical dog was given different names during the development phase but “Tramp” was chosen. The finished film was slightly different than the one originally planned.
Finally, in 1953, the story began taking a solid shape. Although Grant had left the studio in 1949 but his original drawings and story helped the Disney story men put finishing touches to the film.
During its initial release, the film was blasted by critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times stated that the film was not Disney’s best. He also went onto add that the performances were below par. However, at the same time, the film also received positive reviews. For instance, many critics praised the film for its splendid musical score and being a delight for juveniles and joy for adults.
The Lady and the Tramp later down the road was termed a classic. The sequence of Lady and Tramp sharing a plate of spaghetti is considered an iconic scene in American film history. It went on to receive several other accolades and compliments based on the animation and voices.
The film in its initial release overtook Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ interms of money collected. It was able to bring in $6.5 million in distributor rentals. When the movie was released in 1962, it roughly made $6 and $7 million. The year 1971 saw its re-release, bringing in more than $10 million while in 1980 it brought more than $27 million to the table. Finally, its fourth release garnered $31.1 million.
To make the movie a success, the animators of the film had to study the personalities of different dog breeds like they had done with the deer on Bambi. Even though the spaghetti eating scene was the most memorable in the film but Walt Disney wanted to cut it thinking that it would not look romantic and dogs eating spaghetti would simply look silly.
However, animator Frank Thomas was against Disney’s decision and animated the entire scene without any lay-outs. As a result, Disney liked the way Thomas romanticized the scene and decided to keep it in.
At the time of the film’s release, Disney had pioneered the art of making animated movies. His movies settled well amongst the viewers and The Lady and the Tramp was no exception. The movie featured slight changes as compared to the original short story but played out well in the long run. Unarguably, Disney with The Lady and the Tramp had set a benchmark for future animated movies to follow.