Before Hercules hurtles into cinemas with its Aladdin-hip and streetwise soundtrack, Uncle Walt has dusted off another old favourite as warm-up. Lady And The Tramp has something for everyone. It's one for the kids, one for the older adults who remember it the first time around (and they will be older; this one first appeared in 1955), one for those who don't already own it on video and one to watch when the queues for The Lost World are too daunting. But be warned: this is not for you if you think the words "cute" and "puke" go together like "fingers', "down" and "throat." From when the camera pans through a snow-dusted window one Christmas Day, and a pair of Disney hands (the kind that have an unseen adult attached) unwrap a doe-eyed pup, you know you're dealing with a certain sort of film - and it's not one for bullets-and-bangs bums. Still, as the success of 101 Dalmatians proved, people reared on computer games can still enjoy the sickly sweet, especially if it comes in cartoon form, has four paws and a healthy wet nose.
It's a film packed with great songs - the best is He's A Tramp, with its mutt chorus, near-raunchy vocals from Peggy Lee, and a tune that lodges itself in your head - - and fantastic supporting characters, not least amongst them a lunatic beaver and pair of Siamese cats nasty enough to confirm the prejudices of feline haters everywhere.
But it's as a love story that it really works, and few live-action kiss-fests can boast anything as soaringly romantic as this movie's most famed scene, in which our two long-haired lovers - - streetwise mongrel Tramp, and posh Lady - - share a candlelit spaghetti supper. It's right up there with Rhett Butler sweeping Scarlet O'Hara into his arms in Gone With The Wind, and Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster rolling about in the surf in From Here To Eternity. Lady And The Tramp carries a life-affirming message for the lonely: even dogs can fall in love.
Romance doggy style, beautifully drawn by the best animators Disney could muster in 1955, and a true classic.
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