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Toon Talk: Lady and the Tramp 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition
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by Kirby C. Holt
Lady and the Tramp
MPAA Rating: G
A boy and a girl, dining alfresco in the moonlight, are serenaded by their jovial restaurateur. They dig into an inviting pile of pasta, unknowingly chewing on opposite ends of the same strand of spaghetti; closer and closer they get until - they kiss. She, being the little lady that she is, turns away shyly - yet delighted. He, ever the gentleman despite his tramp-like life, offers her the last meatball by nudging it to her with his nose ... "Wait a minute, his nose?â€? you say? Oh, did I fail to mention the fact that the dining lovers are dogs?
Of course, everybody is familiar with the scene described above, even those who have never seen the 1955 animated classic, Lady and the Tramp. But did you know that this scene almost didn't make it into the final film? Walt wasn't sure that it would work, but thanks to legendary animator Frank Thomas, it eventually did work - very well in fact, becoming one of the most iconic depictions of young and innocent love in all of movie history.
This bit of back-story on what "almost wasn'tâ€? is just one of the many discoveries encountered in the 50th anniversary (technically, it would be the 51st this year, but why quibble) edition of Lady, the latest installment of Disney's Platinum Edition line. This lavishly, lovingly appointed collection is an ample tribute to this, one of Disney's most beloved animated features of all time.
It has been some time since I have watched Lady and the Tramp, a simple depiction of a dog's life from a dog's point of view, and I was struck by how cinematic it is and how adult its sensibilities are; this is no mere kiddy flick about cartoon canines - although it certainly appeals to all ages. Note how the filmmakers creatively utilize the animated medium with such cinematic devices as dissolves - as when the laundry-strewn alleyway behind Tony's segues into the tree branches above the park in the midst of "Bella Notteâ€? - and ironic symbolism - as with the bars of the dog pound casting shadows on their motley inhabitants, resembling the stripes of a human convict's uniform.
The dog pound is also the setting for the mature viewpoint of mortality, with the clueless Nutsy cheerily prancing to his doom beyond the "one-wayâ€? back door. And, as pointed out delicately by contemporary animator Andreas Deja in the thorough "making ofâ€? feature on disc two, there is even a hint of our leading couple's late night activities in that park - after all, where do you think those puppies came from at the end of the picture?