|Plus it let them do this, which is like half the reason people remember the movie.|
The story is handled in a surprisingly frank and mature way. There’s no real villain to speak of. There’s the aunt, who’s just kind of dumb, and the cats, the rat, and some street dogs that the Tramp has to fight off, who are only momentary setbacks. Even the dogcatcher that almost euthanizes the Tramp at the end is shown to be just doing his job, and seems to have some measure of care for the dogs at his pound. The romance between Lady and the Tramp actually seems more believable than most human romances I see in movies. Certainly more than I’ve seen in Disney so far. They actually talk to each other and have interactions on multiple occasions and spend a significant amount of time with each other. It’s still quick, but they are, you know, dogs.
|"Noo, Laddie, there's wee bairns aboot me auld haggis, hoot mon."|
I do need to mention this week’s installment in “Walter Elias Disney’s Wacky Parade of Ethnicities”, or “Epcot Stereotypes”. The first, and most famous, are Aunt Vera’s Siamese cats, who speak broken English and have crooked, yellow teeth. On my little spectrum, I‘d rank these guys at 2. They are undeniably using stereotypes that can be hurtful, but they’re using them in a way that colors a necessary character with other personality traits. This is the general tone of the stereotypes in the movie. The British bulldog, German dachshund, Italian waiters, and Irish police officer all fall into this category also. Jock and Trusty, who are Scottish and Deep South, respectively, are more Class 3, where their ethnicities merely provide a bit of extra personality and human interest (for lack of a better term) to what would otherwise be a flat supporting character. So I’m cool with it. Most of the supporting dogs are Bill Thompson again, by the way.
So yeah, in terms of writing and production, this is the best one I’ve seen so far. And it was a huge hit. The critics couldn’t really make heads or tails of it, but the audiences (aided by the TV advertising Disney was now able to do) flocked to it, raking in more cash than any Disney film since Snow White. This approval of unconventional storytelling and the bold new widescreen process gave Walt a HUGE dose of confidence and creativity, which resulted in… Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. See you in a few days.
|We are disconcertingly stereotyped, if you please / We are disconcertingly stereotyped, if you don't please|
* Per a lullaby sung by Darling, the baby appears to be named “Star Sweeper”. I’m aware that it probably isn’t, but I’m going to pretend it is.
* The main thrust of the plot comes when Lady runs away. Some other dogs smell her, then chase her. Tramp saves her, and they spend the night together. The next day, Jock and Trusty propose that one of them could marry her to save her honor. Then she has puppies. I did not put all those pieces together when I was a kid. Seems obvious now.
* When she’s pregnant, Darling requests watermelon and chop suey as part of a typical “wacky craving” gag. Did upper-middle class people in the 1890s know what chop suey was? It seems so incongruously modern, but I guess it isn’t.
* I feel the same way about the beaver they see at the zoo. Are beavers really that exotic to people?
|Marvel at the mysterious wonder-beast from the fabled Canadias!|
* The songs are forgettable, mostly. There’s the Siamese Cat Song, which is catchy, but certainly too racist to be enjoyable. On the lighter side of stereotyping, the Italian waiters have a song called “Bella Notte”, which is quite nice and plays over the opening credits. There’s a few more sung by a random chorus, “He’s a Tramp” sung at the pound, and “What is a Baby” a Lois Lane-style spoken word bit. I couldn’t hum them for you if I tried.
|Fun fact: There are WAY more screencaps of the lousy DTV sequel to be found than of the original movie. It's like 3 to 1. It's bizarre.|