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LADY AND THE TRAMP ($40) has been one of my personal favorites of all the Disney classics, not so much for its characters and story (which are wonderful), but because it is one of the rare animated excursions into CinemaScope. The panoramic shape of the CinemaScope frame lends itself to wonderful artistic compositions and with LADY AND THE TRAMP the Disney animators take full advantage of that big, wide canvas.

Like most Disney animated films that feature animals, LADY AND THE TRAMP plays from the perspective of its canine protagonists. The plot concerns a cocker spaniel named Lady who finds herself losing her position in the household when, the young couple that own her have a baby. Sometime after the birth of the baby, Lady’s master and mistress decide to take a short holiday. This necessitates that the couple’s elderly aunt comes to baby-sit, and she brings along her Siamese cats for the duration of her visit. Naturally, the cats cause a good deal of damage to the home for which Lady is blamed.

The aunt has Lady muzzled, which only causes her to run away. Lady meets up with a mutt named Tramp, who shows her the ways of the world and how to survive on the streets. Along the way, romance begins to bloom for the two dogs. That is, until Lady is captured by the dogcatcher and is returned home. Eventually, Lady and the Tramp are reunited, with an unselfish act of heroism earning the lovable mongrel a home of his own. LADY AND THE TRAMP is a beautifully drawn film, with engaging canine characters and some very funny and very romantic moments. The love scene in with the two pooches share a plate of spaghetti is the most identifiable images from the movie and has become one of the best-known images from all of cinema. LADY AND THE TRAMP features the vocal talents of Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucon, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton, Alan Reed, George Givot, Dal McKennon and Lee Millar.

Walt Disney Home Video has released LADY AND THE TRAMP on DVD in a fine looking wide screen presentation that sadly has not been enhanced for 16:9 playback. The 4:3 Letterboxed image restores the film's 2.35:1 theatrical frame, which is beautifully drawn and exquisitely painted. As for the image quality, there really isn't anything that one can complain about when viewing LADY AND THE TRAMP on a 4:3 display. Everything is crisp and has a nice level of detail, although a new anamorphic transfer would have looked better. Color reproduction is very good, with strong stable hues and no traces of chroma noise or distortion.

There is a Dolby Digital 5.0 channel soundtrack on the disc, however this 1955 release isn't going to provide the kind of fidelity one finds in new recordings. Additionally, the soundtrack doesn't have directional or spatial effects found in newly mixed movies. The mix enhances the film's music, giving it a pleasing expanse. Dialogue is clean and intelligible, however the soundtrack doesn’t have a real bottom end. French and Spanish language tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.

The interactive menus are very basic, providing access to the scene selection and set up features.

LADY AND THE TRAMP is a great Disney movie that deserves a better DVD release. Hopefully the next time around it will be done right. In the mean time, here are a few hints for the powers that be. First of all, the LADY AND THE TRAMP should be enhanced for 16:9 displays. Second, Disney should also include the little seen version of LADY AND THE TRAMP, which was made in the standard 1.37:1 aspect ratio to accommodate theaters that were not set up for CinemaScope in 1955. Third, lots of extras. Forth, a lower price.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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