Thursday, February 23, 2006

Disney News

(The beloved classic gets a clean new look and detailed behind-the-scenes features)

Before and after: the restored film is dramatically clearer and brighter.

This month "Lady and the Tramp," celebrating its 50th anniversary, is looking better than you’ve ever seen it. The colors and picture are crystal clear, and the songs soar. We expect no less from a DVD restoration, and "Lady and the Tramp" has gotten a deluxe one to be released on February 28 - but this package includes a lot more.

Plenty of detective work went into creating the deluxe two-disc edition, and some of the contents have never been seen before by the public. In fact, they contain some material that even Disney personnel didn’t realize still existed.

From storyboards no one knew were still there to rare footage of chanteuse Peggy Lee, from virtual puppies to visuals that were cropped from the film before it was theatrically released, this is the "Lady and the Tramp" you’ve never seen.

The Disney Insider got the inside scoop from Steve Poehlein, director of mastering and restoration, who headed the restoration team - and from Andy Siditsky, head of DVD Production, who clued us in on the history of "Lady and the Tramp" and the goodies you’ll find among the special features.

To start with, viewers will find MORE of the movie to look at than audiences have ever seen before. "Lady and the Tramp" was made in Cinemascope, a then-brand-new process producing a larger, longer, more lavish image than prior film ratios. In fact, the "Lady and the Tramp" production team had already started working on the film when Cinemascope was introduced - Walt was committed to using the new format, and work had to start over on the film to fit the new specs.

However, because Cinemascope was just being introduced, the standards changed while the movie was being completed - and under the new standard, the soundtrack had to be encoded on a strip of film that, in "Lady with the Tramp," had been used for some of the image. So from its premiere on, the film has always been shown with a portion of the image cropped out. Now, that portion is back.

Steve explains, "We went back to the film’s original negative, and that soundtrack isn’t on the negative. So we were able to present the whole picture, centered properly the way it’s meant to be seen."

Lady and friends in a happy moment from"Lady and the Tramp."

The special features contain another gem of Disney history that few have seen - and that few even knew existed!

Andy explains, "The DVD has a never-before-seen storyboard version of the film. It’s very unique in that it was a totally different movie. It didn’t have Tramp in it! We put it together and we wanted to explain what the importance of storyboarding was. Walt Disney actually developed the process of storyboarding, starting with his short features and then ‘Snow White,’ drawing pictures of the action in each scene and putting them up on the wall. That process later ended up being used for live-action films. That leads you into seeing the 1943 storyboard version of the film, which has never been seen before."

He adds, "Whenever we do one of these things we’re always looking for something that no one’s ever seen before. We just couldn’t believe that our researcher found the original storyboards!"

The special features also include some deleted scenes. Andy says that "Turning the Tables" is his favorite of these.

"It shows you what it would be like if dogs were the people and people were the pets. It’s in storyboard form, so you see the animators’ drawings but you hear Tramp’s voice telling you what it would be like if dogs were in charge. Anyone who has dogs can relate to that, I think, because we all wonder if our dogs think that way!" EDITOR'S NOTE: WAIT. YOU MEAN MY DOG ISN'T IN CHARGE?

Both Andy and Steve say that "Lady and the Tramp" is one of their favorite Disney films, and that the restoration gave them a chance to see it in a whole new way.

There's a fun feature on dog breeds and virtual puppies based on “Lady and the Tramp” characters. Viewers will also discover rare footage of Peggy Lee from Walt Disney's TV show, "Disneyland" -- legendary vocalist Lee sang many of “Lady and the Tramp”’s songs and voiced the character of Peg.

Andy says, "Normally you would never get an opportunity to see this kind of stuff. Those kinds of things are great jewels." And the film that many consider one of the jewels in the Disney crown deserves nothing less.

What was the inspiration for "Lady and the Tramp"?
A short story by Ward Greene entitled "Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog" provided the initial idea for the film.


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