Lady and the Tramp appears in an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. In an objective sense, Lady looked great.
Sharpness was crisp and well-defined. Virtually no example softness crept into this tight, concise presentation.
I saw no instances of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement looked absent. Despite the film’s age, not a sign of source flaws could be found. This was an immaculate presentation.
Colors looked deep and rich throughout the film, with no signs of bleeding or smearing. The movie went with gentle, nostalgic tones, and the always came across as full and warm.
Black levels were appropriately dark and dynamic, and shadow detail looked clear and easily visible. Low-light shots showed just the right balance of light and dark. This was a tight presentation.
But did Lady offer an accurate representation of the film as projected in 1955? That became a bigger question, as Disney continued their tradition of grain removal and somewhat boosted colors.
A few paragraphs back, I noted that the Blu-ray offered an objectively strong presentation, and I made that distinction because of the issues that surround its accuracy. I gave the image a high mark because I thought it did look very good as presented, but I recognize that purists will likely feel less pleased with it.
When I looked at the audio of Lady and the Tramp, I found two soundtracks. In addition to the film’s original mix – here presented in a DTS-HD MA 3.0 incarnation - we got a modern DTS-HD MA 7.1 track.
The “B+” seen above refers to the original 3.0 audio, which I found to be the superior option. Its soundfield offered very nice stereo imaging for the music.
Effects also spread gently to the sides, but music dominated that version. This was perfectly appropriate for the material and still made the soundscape ambitious for its era since the vast majority of tracks were mono in the Fifties.
The 3.0 track’s audio quality was surprisingly good. Speech came across as pretty warm and natural, and I noticed to intelligibility problems or edginess.
Music was fairly lush and distinctive, while effects showed good definition and bite. The track still showed its age-related roots, but it seemed very satisfying nonetheless.
Although the 7.1 mix opened up the soundfield, it often did so in an awkward manner. The best parts of that soundscape came from the use of effects, as those broadened decently to the sides and rears. Indeed, the back speakers even presented some unique elements at times, such as when we first met Tramp, as a train moved from the front left to the rear left in a convincing manner.
Unfortunately, music was less satisfactory. The 7.1 mix spread the score and songs across all the speakers, and that made the music lack good definition. It all mushed together in a lackluster way.
In addition, the 7.1 audio tended to lean to the right. During the opening credits, I wondered if my left-side speakers had gone kerplunk; the right half of the mix seemed so much more dominant that I worried my system had a problem.
No, that wasn’t true, and audio did come from the left; the right simply boasted louder material for some reason. As the movie went, it balanced better, but some heavy right-side segments still appeared, and I thought the track generally tilted in that direction. The emphasis on the right wasn’t enough to ruin the mix, but it created some unfortunate distractions.
The 7.1 mix also didn’t sound as good as the 3.0 version, largely because speech demonstrated a light coat of reverb. Lines came across as more hollow and wooden in the 7.1 edition, though they remained clean and intelligible.
The same applied to music and effects, though not to the same degree; those remained reasonably natural. The lack of clean definition and the echo to much of the mix left it with a “C+”. Go with the superior 3.0 track.
How did this 2018 “Signature Collection” Blu-ray compare the original 2012 BD? Both appeared identical in terms of picture and audio, so don’t expect any changes in that regard.
The 2018 disc mixes old and new extras, and we start with a repeat attraction: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings. This offers a re-enactment that recreates Disney’s discussions with other filmmaking personnel to work out the movie’s narrative, characters, visuals and other production issues.
We get a real “fly on the wall” feel for the proceedings, and it’s fascinating to hear Disney and company sort out all the various topics. The notes offer real insight into the film’s evolution, and it’s a true treat to eavesdrop on these discussions.
Next comes Diane Disney Miller: Remembering Dad. In this seven-minute, 51-second featurette, Walt’s daughter discusses the Disneyland apartment that was built around the same time of Lady’s creation as well as other thoughts about that era. We don’t get any great insights, but Diane tells some enjoyable stories about life in Disneyland.
Three Deleted Scenes run a total of 19 minutes, 11 seconds. We find “Introduction of Boris” (10:43), “Waiting for Baby” (1:28), and “Dog Show” (7:00).
“Boris” features abandoned characters who would’ve been in love with Lady, while “Baby” shows Jim Dear’s hopes for his baby. Finally, “Show” lets us see Tramp’s attempts to prove to Lady that he could’ve been a performing pooch, and they end up in a live stage situation.
We watch these via storyboards accompanied by narration and dialogue. “Baby” is forgettable, but the others are fun. I doubt they would’ve worked in the final film – in particular, “Show” goes on awfully long for too little pay-off – but they’re enjoyable to view as alternate possibilities.
For additional unused material, we get a “never recorded song” called “I’m Free As a Bird”. It goes for one minute, 26 seconds and offers a tune that would’ve been crooned by Tramp.
We hear a modern take on the song accompanied by storyboards. It’s not a great number, but it’s fun to hear the abandoned work.
The remaining extras are exclusive to the 2018 Blu-ray. Walt and His Dogs runs eight minutes, 27 seconds and provides circa 1956 comments from Walt Disney and Diane Disney Miller as well as modern comments from Walt Disney Family Museum executive director Kirsten Komoroske
We learn about the dogs in the Disneys’ lives and what these pooches meant to them. It’s not the meatiest collection of memories but it’s moderately charming.
Stories From Walt’s Office fills six minutes, two seconds with notes from Walt Disney Archives director Rebecca Cline and archivist Edward Ovalle. They give us a tour of Walt’s office, a location that has been recreated to resemble its status in Disney’s day. This becomes a decent overview.
During the nine-minute, six-second How to Eat a Meatball and Other Fun Facts, Oh My Disney Show host Alexys Gabrielle pairs with “teen chef” Amber Kelly. They teach us hot to make spaghetti and meatballs, and Gabrielle also throws out a smattering of “fun facts”. This become a completely forgettable program.
Song Selection allows you to jump to any of the movie’s five tunes, while we also get a Sing-Along version of the film that displays lyrics when appropriate. Staples of Disney video releases, these do nothing for me.
The disc opens with ads for Incredibles II and Coco, and Sneak Peeks adds a promo for Dolphins but no trailer for Lady.
A second disc provides a DVD Copy of Lady. It includes no extras.
Note that the 2018 Blu-ray loses a lot of extras from the 2012 BD. Apparently these can be accessed online, but they remain MIA on the disc itself, which is a shame – I hate that so much material can only be found via a secondary source.
Lady and the Tramp remains a classic, one that belongs in everyone's collection. It’s a wonderful and warm film that still holds up awfully well after more than 60 years. The Blu-ray provides terrific picture and solid audio along with a decent selection of supplements. As much as I like the movie, this isn’t the best version of the film, as the 2012 Blu-ray’s superior selection of bonus features makes it the preferred release.
To rate this film visit the 50th Anniversary Edition review of LADY AND THE TRAMP