New for me
Most of the Disney films that I've seen were adaptations of existing material, so Lady and the Tramp is a rather uncommon Disney film to me as it's based on an original story and even though it's a film about the world of dogs, its grounding in an otherwise real world, devoid of fantasy, and a very real (and, even human) story, results in a surprisingly strong feature, especially tied together with Disney's beautiful animation bringing the characters to life.
The titular Lady (Barbara Luddy) is a cocker spaniel, gifted to Darling (Peggy Lee) by Jim Dear (Lee Millar) and quickly becomes part of the family. However, when a baby becomes due, Lady is feeling a little ignored and that's when the free-spirited vagabond Tramp (Larry Roberts) shows up, taking a liking to Lady and sowing seeds of doubt about her family's continued love for her. But Lady remains steadfast, except that one day, Darling and Jim Dear are set to take a trip resulting in Aunt Sarah (Verna Felton) arriving. Having no great love of Lady and two mischievous Siamese cats, Lady finds herself in the proverbial dog house, where the rascal Tramp finds her and tries to open her up to his world. A little adventure for the well heeled Lady follows.
The story is simply charming in part because it's written from the dog's point of view (the humans are named after what they call each other), but also because it's a genuine extrapolation of what could happen to pets and older siblings upon the arrival of a baby or at least a manifestation of their fears, and so the conflicts therein are genuine, just like the tension between the domestic life of Lady and the freewheeling world of the Tramp. This easily makes it one of Disney's better rendered early stories because it captures a sincere and human element and, while there is a little adventure to be had, it's largely rendered from the believable real. Not to say that there aren't some troubles with the story, like the film's broadhanded ethnic stereotyping as well as how the pat the story resolves for Tramp and, notably, not giving Lady, the protagonist, the heroic finale.
One thing that I really loved about the animation of this film is how well that they captured the mannerisms of dogs. Despite their anthropomorphism, the animals still move wonderfully as dogs do and it's instantly familiar for anyone with experience with dogs. The world is lovely, colorful, surprisingly realistic and yet the different dogs are given lots of character as well (again, with some rather broad ethnic stereotypes unimaginatively being used with some).
But, it's the lovely familiar and real story at the heart of Lady and the Tramp that somehow makes it so much more human than the more larger scaled Disney epics. When combined with the legendary animation studio's beautiful artwork and attention to detail in animation, you have a film that might not get as much gloss as its more famous peers, but has more than enough heart to convince, even if time has exposed some of the mars in its characterizations. 8/10.