Lady and the Tramp (1955)
This delightful, animated Walt Disney Production details the first year (or two) of the life of a sweet domesticated female cocker spaniel named Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) and her various encounters: with her ‘humans’ – owners Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and ‘Darling’ (Peggy Lee) – and especially the streetwise stray terrier she fancies named Tramp (Larry Roberts). Ms. Lee sings (and/or wrote, with Sonny Burke) the movie’s soundtrack, which includes the hits:"He's a Tramp" "The Siamese Cat Song"
and "Bella Notte (This Is the Night)" (sung by George Givot and the studio’s chorus - below). Directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske, the story was written by Ward Greene, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, and Don DaGradi. #95 on AFI's 100 Greatest Love Stories list.
The story begins (and ends) at Christmas-time. Jim gives his wife Darling a hat box which contains the puppy later named Lady. The first night is typical, Lady won’t stay downstairs and sleep; instead, she howls until Darling convinces Jim to “give in” and let the dog sleep on their bed “just this one night”, which of course becomes 6 months. Lady has two neighbors in her well-to-do neighborhood: Jock (Bill Thompson), a Scottish terrier, and Trusty (Bill Baucom), a bloodhound that’s lost his scent, ability to track (“but don’t tell him that”). In Disney’s world, the dogs can understand the words that their humans say, and can even read (and the humans can more or less understand what their pets are trying to convey also).
All is well until Darling gets pregnant and Lady is no longer her humans’ center of attention. But even that’s O.K. until Jim and Darling decide to take a 3 day vacation during which Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton) is put in charge. She doesn’t seem to like Lady, and certainly doesn’t want her to be near the baby. To make matters worse, she’s brought her troublesome Siamese cats; they quickly tear up the place and succeed in getting Lady blamed for the mess. Sarah takes Lady to get muzzled, which is too much for the previously beloved cocker spaniel to take. She runs away and is soon chased by a gang of vicious street dogs until she’s saved by the gallant Tramp; this is the second time they’ve met. After helping Lady get rid of the muzzle via a whistling beaver (Stan Freberg) at the zoo, Tramp shares his carefree life with her, which includes eating at a different establishment each night. Tramp is received warmly in the alley behind Tony’s Italian restaurant by its owner; upon seeing Tramp’s beautiful companion, Tony and Joe serve them spaghetti & meatballs, and serenade the couple – in this famous (and romantic) scene:
But the dogs are separated when Tramp’s mischief in a henhouse causes the two to scatter, and Lady gets caught by the dog catcher. Of course, her collar is her ticket back home, but Sarah then chains her to a doghouse out in the yard. Tramp tries to apologize, but Lady will have none of it until she needs him to save the baby from a rat that scampers up a vine and into the nursery. The ensuing fight causes the crib to fall over; the baby begins to cry and Sarah rushes in and naturally assumes the worst, again. A limping Tramp is taken away by the dog catcher as Jim and Darling arrive home from their trip. Lady leads them to the dead rat in the nursery. Upon hearing this, Jock and Trusty race to stop the catcher’s carriage. They do, but it collapses on Trusty. In the final scene at Christmas, Tramp is proudly displaying his collar while he and Lady are flanked by four puppies of their own: three that look like their mother and a rambunctious one that resembles its father. Jock and an injured Trusty come over for a visit as the movie’s story comes to an end.