January 23, 2007

"Bella Notte"

They just don't make 'em like this anymore. I guess kids today would get bored while watching something like Lady and the Tramp from 1955. It is a different kind of animated movie from today's, born of a completely separate time and sensibility. But surely kids (and grown-up kids) of any era would still fall prey to the lovely poignancy of "Bella Notte." When that possibility no longer exists, I want off of this planet.

the voice of Darling/Si/Am/Peg

Peggy Lee, who, along with Sinatra producer/arranger/songwriter Sonny Burke, created the songs for the film, later sued Disney for breach of contract claiming that she still retained rights to the transcripts. She was awarded $2.3m, but not without a legal battle which was settled in 1991. Of all the great songs they wrote for Lady and the Tramp, I'm rather partial to "The Siamese Cat Song," on which, thanks to early multi-tracking, Lee sang both parts.
This is one of those Disney scenes I clearly remember seeing for the first time (December 1971). I saw Lady and the Tramp, along with many other Disney cartoons, at the now closed Broadway Theater in my hometown, Galveston, Texas. It lives only in memory and this painting (found at Cinema Treasures):

I later saw my first XXX rated movie there as well (irony), but I regress. Incidentally, Lady and the Tramp was the first Disney animated film released only on DVD (the last released on VHS was Bambi II). Even as a child this stirred me (there is something about that last verse, when the "Disney singers" repeat the chorus, that is like a time machine straight back to childhood):

1955 release


Leslie said...

My daughter Sadie is going to be 4 and she watches Lady and the Tramp all the time - she sings "Bella Notte" too - it's just too cute for words!

This is probably one of my favorites and I love the Siamese Cat Song too!

Chris said...

That is too cute for words! Very sweet. It's comforting to know something like the old Disney cartoons can do to children now, what they did to us. It's one of those common threads a society needs to survive, I believe.

Yep, Lady in the Tramp is a classic. "The Siamese Cat Song" is so cool, with its faux, vaguely Asian feel.

The Pine Blogger said...

We have a Disney CD that my kids (2 and 7) play in the car a lot. It has Bella Notte, but sadly, it's not a favorite. My girl's favorite is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious because she's so in love with Mary Poppins. My son likes one of the newer Phil Collins songs that goes with Tarzan (I think). And they both love Peter Pan's "You can fly," which reminds me of the great Disneyworld ride.

Chris said...

I think I have that CD, pine blogger! And it's no wonder they like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" more than "Bella Notte" - it's much more "fun," and it's much easier to sing along. "You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!" is my all time favorite Disney-related tune. That and "Second Star to the Right," also from Peter Pan.