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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Lady and the Tramp

Happy fourteenth of February, everyone!

(Otherwise known as Valentine's Day.)

Okay, okay.  I promised I would be optimistic about Valentine's Day, and so I've made a special Valentine themed logo just for today.

How do you like it?

This also happens to be the conclusion of the special pop culture themed week with a Valentine's Day twist, and for the finale of love week, I thought I'd choose a movie that celebrates true love.

But what movie do I choose?  Even though I'm no longer an electronics sales associate, I do know that when I did work there, there was no shortage of romance films.  Heck, "Fifty Shades of Grey" was just released yesterday at the box office, which I am sure has gotten the attention of a lot of people - specifically those who have read the book series.

Yeah, I don't think I'm ready to go THAT raunchy for a Saturday movie discussion.

In fact, I'll be totally honest with you.  I am not a huge fan of romance films.  I find most of them sappy, unbelievable melancholic, and predictable.  I would not make it through films like "The Fault In Our Stars", "If I Stay", "The Notebook", or "A Walk To Remember".  If anything, they'd be a good cure for insomnia for me.  Not my cup of tea.

But I suppose if there is one type of romance film that I could stomach, it's one where there's an underdog.  One that you want to see get the girl, the home, the dream job, and the new baby at the film's conclusion.  Someone who struggled their whole life to find a place where they could belong and succeeded in finding their happily ever after.  Those films I could get behind.  I think that's one of the reasons why I enjoyed "Shrek" so much.

In fact, I was thinking of a particular movie that would be absolutely perfect to watch on Valentine's Day, and one that seems to celebrate the underdog, so to speak.  And the best part?  It's a film that is suitable for all ages.  From age three to 103, if you like.

Yes, today's film is an animated movie produced by Walt Disney.  But it is such a classic film, and one that I could watch over and over.

And to think that the stars of this film are a couple of dogs.

Yes, this is the story of a cocker spaniel named Lady and a homeless mutt named Tramp.

(And, I suppose I should clarify, the movie refers to a tramp as being a vagabond, not a prostitute.)

Anyway, let's talk about "Lady and the Tramp", a film that was first released in theatres on June 22, 1955!  The fifteenth animated feature film in a long line of Disney animated features, this film is very much a poor boy meets rich girl tale - only with dogs as the main characters.  The story is a love story in which both Lady and Tramp become smitten with each other, and how both have major obstacles to face in order to be with the one they love.

Ah, but, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

All right, so the film is set long before the 1950s.  1909, to be exact.  Jim Dear surprises his wife Darling...

...wait.  That would make her name Darling Dear.  Oh dear.

Ahem.  Anyway, Jim surprises his Darling with a beautiful Christmas morning present.  A lovable cocker spaniel named Lady.  And, not once do we ever see Jim or Darling take Lady outside to do her business, so she must be well trained!

Lady is treated like a...well, lady, by the Darlings, and she grown up having a very happy life.  That is until something happens and Lady begins to grow a little bit insecure.

You see, Jim and Darling decide to have a little bit of fun one night (not seen in the movie, of course), and the next thing you know, they are expecting a new baby.  And Lady isn't sure that having a new baby come into the family is such a good idea.  She talks to her friends Trusty and Jock about the situation and they try to talk to her about it.  However, a stray dog named Tramp happens to wander into Lady's yard, and offers up his opinion that "when the baby moves in, the dog moves out", which naturally angers Jock and Trusty, and causes Lady to doubt her place in the world even more.

It is a relief when the baby is born because Lady befriends the child and they become quite fond of each other.  But another challenge presents itself with Jim and Darling deciding that they need a vacation.  They call in Aunt Sarah to watch Lady and the new baby, and let's just say it's fairly obvious that Aunt Sarah lacks people skills.  And what she lacks in understanding people, she lacks even more in understanding animals.

Really, the only animals that Aunt Sarah likes are her two Siamese cats named Si and Am - my nomination for two of the most annoying characters to ever appear in a Disney movie.

Though, I do admit.  Peggy Lee did a fantastic job with the song "We Are Siamese".

Anyway, even though Si and Am are responsible for the damages inside the Darling home, Aunt Sarah blames Lady, and decides to punish her by buying her a muzzle!  This proves too much for Lady, and she decides to run away to get away from the awful Aunt Sarah once and for all.

But Lady was...shall we say, sheltered, and she never really knew that there were any bad dogs in the world at all.  So when she happens to come across a pack of wild stray dogs, she is extremely frightened.

That is, until Tramp comes along and not only rescues her from the pack, but enlists the aid of a beaver to help remove Lady's muzzle.  From there, Tramp takes Lady on a tour of his world which includes dinner at an Italian restaurant and this classic scene.

Awwww...isn't that sweet!

However, no love story would be complete without conflict, and when Lady is caught by the dogcatcher and the other female dogs in the truck inform her that Tramp is...well...a tramp, Lady is heartbroken and refuses to see him again.  But when an evil creature breaks into the Darling family home, can Lady put aside her differences with Tramp and work together to save the baby from being harmed?

Well, I suppose the fact that a direct to video sequel was released in 2001 means that the resolution for Lady and Tramp was a good one.

Anyway, here's some trivia about this movie, and I was extremely shocked at #1 on this list!

1 - The spaghetti scene that defined "Lady and the Tramp"?  Walt Disney almost left that scene on the cutting room floor!  Thank goodness he changed his mind!

2 - The opening scene in which Darling opens up the hat box to find Lady inside was reportedly based on a real life incident in which Walt bought his wife a puppy after forgetting a dinner date with her!

3 - Peggy Lee's casting was really the first instance in a Disney film in which a "superstar" was cast.  As some know, Peggy Lee was a huge recording star who gave us the hit single "Fever".

4 - In the movie, Lady is supposed to be the same age as a human in their early 20's.  In real life, Barbara Luddy who voiced Lady, was almost 50.

5 - At the time of the film's release, it was the highest grossing Disney cartoon since "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

6 - Lee Millar plays the role of Jim Dear.  Lee's mother, Verna Felton, voiced Aunt Sarah.

7 - Originally, Tramp's name was supposed to be Homer.  Somehow, Lady and the Homer doesn't have that nice ring to it.  Sounds more like an episode title that the Simpsons would use!

8 - Si and Am were originally going to be called Nip and Tuck.

9 - Peggy Lee launched a lawsuit against Disney in 1988 for breach of contract, claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts of the film.  The lawsuit was settled in 1991 with Lee walking away with $2.3 million!

10 - This was the first full-length animated movie to be made in widescreen format.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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