Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Lady and the Tramp


I was eight, so I’m sure I saw this one when it was new. It is interesting to see the dogs today. We are well into the movie before Jock and Trusty the bloodhound speak. Before that, we see only Lady, and she behaves exactly like a puppy behaves. In fact, all the dogs exhibit purely doggy behavior, if we ignore little things like their ability to read signs saying NO DOGS ALLOWED. A very intelligent dog could do most of the things Tramp does. It is easy to accept that the canines are simply speaking to each other in dog language. There is nothing cartoonish about them. It is clear that the animators studied dogs extensively.
They left out a few behaviors, naturally. I kept thinking how cool it would be if they did what all dogs do the moment they meet one another: Go around and sniff the other’s ass. Or how about drinking water out of the toilet bowl, licking their crotches, or eating catshit out of the cat box? Okay, there goes the G-rating. And since this is a romance, you can’t acknowledge the fact that dogs are pack animals, not pair-bonding animals, and as soon as Tramp knocked up his little Lady, he’d never see her again, much less care for her little scamps. There’s a scene where Jock and Trusty come a’callin’, purpose: Matrimony. I didn’t see why, until Lee pointed out that those pups at the end of the movie arrived pretty damn soon after the big chase. Trusty was still walking with a splint on his leg from the injury sustained when the dogcatcher’s wagon fell on him. It seems certain that the Lady lay down with the Tramp right after that fine Italian dinner. They were trying to let her avoid the shame of being—gasp!—an unwed mother. Let’s not even get into the issue of female dogs in heat and what it does to all the male dogs in the neighborhood, which might explain the real reason Jock and Trusty were there …
I remember an episode of “Disneyland” where Peggy Lee showed how she was able to sing both parts of those nasty, horrible Siamese cats, Si and Am. It was the first time I was aware of some of the technical aspects of making a film like that. Peggy also did the voice for one of the more appealing minor characters, Peg (a Lhasa Apso?), who sings a song that was to be covered by many female singers later, “He’s a Tramp.” I wonder if the writers realized that the most likely reason for a female to be in jail is prostitution? It seems obvious to me, seeing it now, that she was a hooker with a heart of gold. I suspect those guys got a lot of laughs over that one. I do recall being very sad seeing those dogs howling in sorrow at the pound. Pounds are such sad places.
This is one of the few times one of my favorite satirists, Stan Freberg, did a voice for Disney. He was Mr. Busy the Beaver, who spoke with a whistle.