On Christmas night in 1909, Jim Dear gives his wife, Darling, a cocker spaniel puppy who she names Lady. Lady grows up and enjoys a happy life with them and a pair of dogs from the neighborhood, a Scottish Terrier named Jock and a bloodhound named Trusty. Meanwhile, across town by the railway, a friendly stray silver mutt, referred to as Tramp, dreams to live in a home, be it begging for scraps from an Italian restaurant or protecting his fellow strays, Peg (a Pekingese) and Bull (a bulldog), from the local dogcatcher. At one point, Lady sees a big, sinister-looking rat trying to sneak into the yard and chases it away.
Later, Lady is saddened after Jim Dear and Darling begin treating her rather coldly. Jock and Trusty visit her, and determine that the change in behavior is due to Darling expecting a baby. While Jock and Trusty try to explain what one is, the eavesdropping Tramp enters the conversation and offers his own opinions. Jock and Trusty take an immediate dislike to him and order him out of the yard.
In due time, baby Jim Jr. arrives and Jim Dear and Darling introduce Lady to him. Soon after, Jim Dear and Darling decide to go on a trip together, leaving their Aunt Sarah to look after Jim Jr. and the house. When Lady clashes with Aunt Sarah's two Siamese cats, Si and Am, she takes Lady to a pet shop to get a muzzle. A terrified Lady escapes but is pursued by some alley dogs. Tramp sees the chase and rescues her. They then visit the zoo, where Tramp tricks a beaver into removing the muzzle. That night, Tramp shows Lady how he lives "footloose and collar-free", culminating in a candlelit spaghetti dinner.
As Tramp escorts Lady back home, his last thing is to chase hens in a chicken coop and then he is through being a stray. When they flee, Lady is caught by the dogcatcher. At the pound, the other dogs admire her license, as it is her way out of there. It also turns out that they known Tramp, and the dogs reveal to Lady that Tramp's had multiple girlfriends in the past and feel it's unlikely that he'll ever settle down. Eventually, Lady is collected by Aunt Sarah, who chains her to her doghouse in the backyard. Jock and Trusty visit to comfort her and tell her that strays aren't allowed to be adopted. When Tramp arrives to apologize, thunder starts to rumble as she angrily confronts him about his "past sweethearts," after which he sadly leaves.
Moments later, as it starts to rain, Lady sees the same rat from before trying to sneak into the yard again. While it is afraid of her, it is able to evade her and enter the house. She barks frantically, but Aunt Sarah yells at her to be quiet. Tramp hears her and runs back to help. He enters the house and finds the rat in Jim Jr.'s room, and the two engage in a vicious fight. Lady breaks free and races inside to find the rat on Jim Jr.'s crib, as it had intended on killing him. Tramp pounces on it, but knocks over the crib in the process, awakening Jim Jr. Tramp kills the rat, but when Aunt Sarah comes to Jim Jr.'s aid, she sees the two dogs and thinks they are responsible. She forces Tramp into a closet and Lady into the cellar, then calls the pound to take Tramp away.
Jim Dear and Darling return as the dogcatcher departs with Tramp. They release Lady, who leads them to the dead rat, vindicating Tramp. Jock and Trusty, having overheard everything, chase after the dogcatcher's wagon. Jock is convinced Trusty has long since lost his sense of smell, but the latter is able to find the wagon. They bark at the horses, who rear up and topple the wagon onto a telephone pole. Jim Dear arrives by car with Lady, and she is happily reunited with Tramp before they discover that the wagon fell on Trusty.
That Christmas, Tramp, now a part of Lady's family, has his own collar and license. He and Lady now have four puppies together: a son (named Scamp) who looks identical to Tramp and three daughters (named Annette, Collette, and Danielle) who look identical to Lady. Jock comes to see the family along with Trusty, who is carefully walking on his still-mending leg. Tramp is happy to have finally become a house dog, and he and Lady live together happily with their children.
- Barbara Luddy as Lady
- Larry Roberts as Tramp
- Bill Thompson as Jock, Bull, Dachsie, Policeman, and Joe
- Bill Baucom as Trusty
- Stan Freberg as Beaver
- Verna Felton as Aunt Sarah
- Alan Reed as Boris
- Peggy Lee as Darling, Si and Am, and Peg
- Thurl Ravenscroft as Al the Alligator
- George Givot as Tony
- Dallas McKennon as Toughy, Pedro, Professor, and Hyena
- Lee Millar as Jim Dear, The Dogcatcher
- The Mellomen as Dog Chorus
- Mel Blanc as The Stray Dogs
In early script versions, Tramp was first called Homer, then Rags and Bozo. However, in the finished film, Tramp never calls himself a proper name, although most of the film's canine cast refer to him as "the Tramp". Tramp has other names that are given to him by the families he weekly visits for food, such as Mike and Fritzi. However, he doesn't belong to a single family, so his name is never confirmed, although most comics and indeed the film's own sequel assume that he is also named Tramp by Jim Dear and Darling.
The character that eventually became Aunt Sarah was softened for the movie, in comparison with earlier treatments. In the film, she is a well-meaning busybody aunt (revealed to be the sister of Darling's mother in the Greene novelization) who adores her cats. Earlier drafts had Aunt Sarah appear more as a stereotypical meddling and overbearing mother-in-law. While she is antagonistic towards Lady and Tramp at first, she sends them a box of dog biscuits for Christmas to make amends for having so badly misunderstood them.
Earlier versions of the storyline, drafted in 1943 during the war, had the two cats appear as secondary antagonists, suggesting the yellow peril. They were originally named Nip and Tuck. In Ward Greene's novelization, they tearfully express remorse over causing Tramp's impending execution by hiding the rat's body as a joke and then try to make amends, while in the film they do not partake of the climatic scene.
In pre-production, Jim Dear was known as Jim Brown, and Darling was named Elizabeth. These were dropped to highlight Lady's point of view. In a very early version, published as a short story in a 1944 Disney children's anthology, Lady refers to them as "Mister" and "Missis". To maintain a dog's perspective, Darling and Jim's faces are rarely shown. The background artists made models of the interiors of Jim Dear and Darling's house and shot photos and film at a low perspective as a reference to maintain a dog's view.
The film's opening sequence, in which Darling unwraps a hat box on Christmas morning and finds Lady inside, is based upon an actual incident in Walt Disney's life when he presented his wife Lillian with a Chow puppy as a gift in a hat box.
The beaver in this film is similar to the character of Gopher in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, down to the speech pattern: a whistling noise when he makes the "S" sound. This voice was created by Stan Freberg, who has an extensive background in commercial and comedy recordings. On the Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition DVD he demonstrates how the effect was done, and that a whistle was eventually used because it was difficult to maintain the effect.
The rat, a somewhat comical character in some early sketches, became a great deal more frightening, due to the need to raise dramatic tension.
In 1937 legendary Disney story man Joe Grant approached Walt Disney with some sketches he had made of his Springer Spaniel named Lady and some of her regular antics. Disney enjoyed the sketches and told Grant to put them together as a storyboard. When Grant returned with his boards, Disney was not pleased and the story was shelved.
In 1943 Walt read in Cosmopolitan a short story written by Ward Greene, called "Happy Dan, The Whistling Dog". He was interested in the story and bought the rights to it.
By 1949 Grant had left the studio, but Disney story men were continually pulling Grant's original drawings and story off the shelf to retool. Finally, a solid story began taking shape in 1953, based on Grant's storyboards and Green's short story. Greene later wrote a novelization of the film that was released two years before the film itself, at Walt Disney's insistence, so that audiences would be familiar with the story. Grant didn't receive credit for any story work in the film, an issue that animation director Eric Goldberg hoped to rectify in the Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition's behind-the-scenes vignette that explained Grant's role.
This was the first Disney animated feature filmed in Cinemascope. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 it is, to date, the widest film that Disney has ever produced. Sleeping Beauty was also produced for an original 2.55:1 aspect ratio, but was never presented in theaters this way — the film is nevertheless presented in its original 2.55:1 aspect on DVD Platinum Edition release.
This new innovation of CinemaScope presented some additional problems for the animators: the expansion of canvas space makes it difficult for a single character to dominate the screen, and groups must be spread out to keep the screen from appearing sparse. Longer takes become necessary since constant jump-cutting would seem too busy or annoying. Layout artists essentially had to reinvent their technique. Animators had to remember that they could move their characters across a background instead of the background passing behind them. The animators overcame these obstacles during the action scenes, such as the Tramp killing the rat. However, some character development was lost, as there was more realism but fewer closeups, therefore less involvement with the audience.
More problems arose as the premiere date got closer. Although Cinemascope was becoming a growing interest to movie-goers, not all theaters had the capabilities at the time. Upon learning this, Walt issued two versions of the film to be created: one in widescreen, and another in the original aspect ratio. This involved gathering the layout artists to restructure key scenes when characters were on the outside area of the screen.
The finished film is slightly different from what was originally planned. Although both the original script and the final product shared most of the same elements, it would still be revised and revamped. Originally, Lady was to have only one next door neighbor, a Ralph Bellamy-type canine named Hubert. Hubert was later replaced by Jock and Trusty. A scene created but then deleted was one in which, while Lady fears of the arrival of the baby, she has a "Parade of the Shoes" nightmare (similar to Dumbo's "Pink Elephants on Parade" nightmare) where a baby bootie splits in two, then four, and continues to multiply. The dream shoes then fade into real shoes, their wearer exclaiming that the baby has been born.
Another cut scene was after Trusty says "Everybody knows, a dog's best friend is his human". This leads to Tramp describing a world where the roles of both dogs and humans are switched; the dogs are the masters and vice-versa.
Prior to being just "The Tramp," the character went through a number of suggested names including Homer, Rags, and Bozo. It was thought in the 1950s that the term "tramp" would not be acceptable, but since Walt Disney approved of the choice, it was considered safe under his acceptance. On early storyboards shown on the Backstage, Disney DVD had listed description "a tramp dog" with "Homer" or one of the mentioned prior names.
The spaghetti scene, wherein Lady and Tramp eat opposite ends of a single strand of spaghetti until meeting in the middle and kissing, is an often-parodied scene, including in the film's own sequel, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure. It also appeared in 102 Dalmatians, spliced together with Oddball's owner's date. Other parodies of the sequence in Disney media include:
- In the 101 Dalmatians: The Series episode "My Fair Moochie", Mooch and Cadpig parody this scene while eating spaghetti together.
- In the Recess episode "Kurst the Not so Bad", Mikey and Kurst parody this same scene.
- In the Lilo & Stitch: The Series episode "Morpholomew", Lao Shi and Mrs. Hasagawa parody this spaghetti scene in the same manner, with Lao Shi's dentures falling out in the process.
- In the 2005 animated film Kronk's New Groove, Kronk and Ms. Birdwell parody this same scene while eating dinner together during the song "Let's Groove".
- In the 2007 live-action film Underdog, superhero Underdog and Sweet Polly Purebred parody this spaghetti scene in a similar fashion.
- In the 2010 Phineas and Ferb special "Summer Belongs to You!", Baljeet and Buford Van Stomm were eating the same food while in Italy during the song "Bouncin' Around the World".
- In the Gravity Falls episode "The Time Traveler's Pig", Mabel and Waddles eat a pizza slice in the same way.
Non-Disney parodies include:
- In the book Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renee Russel, Nikki and Brandon parody this scene in Nikki's imagination (found on pages 168-169). Earlier, she mentions that Lady and the Tramp is her favorite Disney movie. In Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Smart Miss Know-It-All, Nikki briefly mentions the spaghetti scene.
- In 2012, this movie's spaghetti sequence was featured momentarily during the 8th proceeding of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.
Home video release
- Main article: Lady and the Tramp (video)
At the time, the film took in a higher figure than any other Disney animated feature since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. An episode of Disneyland called A Story of Dogs aired before the film’s release. The film was reissued to theaters in 1962, 1971, 1980, and 1986, and on VHS and Laserdisc in 1987 (this was in Disney's The Classics video series) and 1998 (this was in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection video series). A Disney Limited Issue series DVD was released on November 23, 1999. It was remastered and restored for DVD on February 28, 2006, as the seventh installment of Platinum Editions series. One million copies of the Platinum Edition were sold on February 28, 2006, The Platinum Edition DVD went on moratorium on January 31, 2007, along with the 2006 DVD reissue of Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure.
This film began a spinoff comic titled Scamp, named after one of Lady and Tramp's puppies. It was first written by Ward Greene and was published from October 31, 1955 until 1988. Scamp also stars in a direct-to-video sequel in 2001 titled Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure. Walt Disney's Comic Digest — issue #54 has A New Adventure of Lady and the Tramp dated copyright 1955.
Release and Reception
The film was originally released in theaters on June 22, 1955. At the time, the film took in a higher figure than any other Disney animated feature since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, earning an estimated $7.5 million in rentals at the North American box office in 1955. Two episodes of Disneyland on the production of the film, one called "A Story of Dogs" and the other called "Cavalcade of Songs", aired before the film's release. The film was also reissued to theaters in 1962, 1971, 1980, and 1986. Lady and the Tramp also played a limited engagement in select Cinemark Theaters from February 16-18, 2013.
Despite being an enormous success at the box office, however, the film was initially panned by many critics: one indicated that the dogs had "the dimensions of hippos," another that "the artists' work is below par". However, the film has since come to be regarded as a classic. The sequence of Lady and the Tramp sharing a plate of spaghetti and meatballs—climaxed by an accidental kiss as they swallow opposite ends of the same piece of spaghetti—is considered an iconic scene in American film.
Lady and the Tramp was named number 95 out of the "100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time" by the American Film Institute in their 100 years...100 Passions special, as one of only two animated films to appear on the list, along with Disney's Beauty and the Beast (which ranked 34th).
In 2010, Rhapsody called its accompanying soundtrack one of the all-time great Disney & Pixar soundtracks.
In June 2011, TIME named it one of "The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films".
According to Rotten Tomatoes, 89% of critics have given the film positive reviews based on 38 reviews.
The characters Si and Am were criticized the most for their racial stereotyping of Asians/Asian-Americans. Other criticisms of racial stereotyping include Italians (Tony and Joe) and Mexicans (The Mexican-accented chihuahua).
|Title 1 - Main Title (Bella Notte) / The Wag of a Dog's Tail|
|Title 2 - Peace on Earth (Silent Night)|
|Title 3 - It Has a Ribbon / Lady to Bed / A Few Mornings Later|
|Title 4 - Sunday / The Rat / Morning Paper|
|Title 5 - A New Blue Collar / Lady Talks To Jock and Trusty / It's Jim Dear|
|Title 6 - What a Day! / Breakfast at Tony's|
|Title 7 - Warning / Breakout / Snob Hill / A Wee Bairn|
|Title 8 - Countdown to B-Day|
|Title 9 - Baby's First Morning / What Is a Baby / La La Lu|
|Title 10 - Going Away / Aunt Sarah|
|Title 11 - The Siamese Cat Song / What's Going on Down There|
|Title 12 - The Muzzle / Wrong Side of the Tracks|
|Title 13 - You Poor Kid / He's Not My Dog|
|Title 14 - Through the Zoo / A Log Puller|
|Title 15 - Footloose and Collar-Free / A Night At The Restaurant / Bella Notte|
|Title 16 - It's Morning / Ever Chase Chickens / Caught|
|Title 17 - Home Sweet Home|
|Title 18 - The Pound|
|Title 19 - What a Dog / He's a Tramp|
|Title 20 - In the Doghouse / The Rat Returns / Falsely Accused / We've Got to Stop That Wagon / Trusty's Sacrifice|
|Title 21 - Watch the Birdie / Visitors|
|Title 22 - Finale (Peace on Earth)|
Legendary recording artist Peggy Lee wrote the songs with Sonny Burke and assisted with the score as well. In the film she sings: "He's a Tramp", "La La Lu", "The Siamese Cat Song", and "What is a Baby?". She helped promote the film on the Disney TV series, explaining her work with the score and singing a few of the film's numbers. These appearances are available as part of the Lady and the Tramp Platinum Edition DVD set.
In 1991, Peggy Lee sued the Walt Disney Company for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts, including those to videotape. She was awarded $2.3m, but not without a lengthy legal battle with the studio which was finally settled in 1991.
- To this day, it remains debatable who is the main antagonist: Si and Am, Aunt Sarah, or the Rat.
- This is the first film since Cinderella to not feature actresses Kathryn Beaumont and Heather Angel.
- Thurl Ravenscroft, who provided the voice of Al the Alligator, also voiced the Captain in 101 Dalmatians, Billy Boss in The Aristocats, and Kirby in The Brave Little Toaster film trilogy.
- The crazy laugh of the Hyena, provided by Dallas McKennon, was later used as a stock sound effect for crazy laughter, specifically the laughing hyenas in the "it's a small world" attraction. It was also heard in the 1979 horror film Tourist Trap, Jon Favreau's 2003 Christmas comedy film Elf, and as the original voice of Ripper Roo in the Crash Bandicoot video game franchise.