Friday, December 5, 2014

Lady and the Tramp/Sleeping Beauty

Now it’s time to talk about “Lady and the Tramp,” released in 1955, in today’s entry of “Disney Month.” I guess everyone, young or told, rich or poor, every couple is familiar with the famous spaghetti scene from this movie.

This famous scene, where a cocker spaniel and a street dog share a dish of pasta and meatballs and gorge the same piece of noodle, making them accidentally kiss, has become one of the most romantic moments in the history of film. Rachel Ward stated in her review, “So it's baffling to think that Disney was close to cutting the entire episode. Thanks to animator Frank Thomas, Uncle Walt was convinced to keep it in and went on to make what might be one of his most cherished films.”

Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and Darling (Peggy Lee) are the proud owners of Lady (Barbara Luddy), a cocker spaniel who begins to feel disjointed from the family when they give birth to their child. She runs away, and runs into the freewheeling Tramp, voiced by Larry Roberts, a lovable canine who tells her about the leash-free life on the other side of town.

This is a film that defines the glory days of great hand-drawn Disney animation, giving the wholesome family values and classic entertainment. Besides the catchy songs written by amazing jazz singer Peggy Lee (who voices Lady, the Siamese cats and Peg), it doesn’t have the stretch of musical numbers one would recognize from the great Disney. Ward stated in her review, “And while Lady and the Tramp is noteworthy for being the first animated film in CinemaScope – a format often associated with spectacle – it's a rather down-to-earth affair that lacks the epic feel of Disney's beloved fairy tales.” However, in this area it has the charming spirit and a fascinating story, which entertains more willingly than some of its modern pieces.

Ward concludes her review by saying, “To borrow the words of the award-winning man of the moment Jean DuJardin (star of The Artist): "It's a simple story – a love story. It's universal. And everyone loves a cute dog."”

In the end, check this movie out dog lovers, you will enjoy it. It’s definitely a classic from the Disney Renaissance era.

Now let’s talk about the last in the trifecta of Disney Princesses, “Sleeping Beauty,” released in 1959. Even though I will admit this film is a classic, I seriously think the princess in this movie is easily forgettable because she epitomizes the whole “damsel in distress and wait for the prince to come rescue her.”

So the basic story doesn’t really make it so magnificent compared to the previous princess movies that came prior to this, such as “Cinderella” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” The execution of “Sleeping Beauty” really makes it nice though.

First off, it has some really neat animation from The Walt Disney Company. It combines Gothic influences with Modern sensibilities to make an animated movie that looks really imaginative like anything else they have made. The beautiful matte paintings that are in the background are already enough to make the viewer look at it as eye candy, but the character design that comes in later is amazing as well. All of the characters are exactly like the medieval versions that we don’t even think that they were hand-drawn.

All of this is of course connected to the performances that were given to the characters. Many animated films don’t really get the praise for the work of the voice cast has put in, but “Sleeping Beauty” deserves to get that praise, as it is deserved. From Verna Felton as Flora and Queen Leah, Barbara Jo Allen as Fauna, Barbara Luddy as Merryweather, to Mary Costa as Aurora, to the great Eleanor Audley as Maleficient, the entire cast helps the film look even more special and unique. You even have Bill Shirley as Prince Phillip, Taylor Holmes as King Stefan, and Bill Thompson as King Hubert.

JSKINNER1396 wrote in their review of this film, “Watching the film again, I was also struck by its script. Much of the dialogue is extremely poetic, which simply adds to the film’s overall mystique. Most animated films do not have particularly outstanding dialogue, but are just well-plotted. Sleeping Beauty not only has wonderful dialogue, but also improves on the overall plotting of the original piece, by reworking the original story and having Aurora and Phillip meet and fall in love before Aurora is put to sleep my Maleficent’s curse.”

There is a lot to like about this film, from the nice script, outstanding voice talent, amazing animation, the wonderful song Once Upon a Dream that you will hum if this film makes a great impact on you, and the Tchaikovsky score that is nicely orchestrated in this movie, even though this was composed decades before the film was made. “Sleeping Beauty,” despite having a forgettable princess, is one of the Disney classic.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed today’s review. Stay tuned for more “Disney Month” tomorrow.

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