Tag Archives: Lady and the Tramp

Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

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Lady and the Tramp is another classic Disney film that is sadly falling by the wayside as more and more time goes on, but it has one of the more disturbing situations in the Disney canon.

Set in 1909/1910, the story follows Lady, a cocker spaniel, whose happy life with Jim Dear and his wife Darling is upended when Darling becomes pregnant and has a baby boy. With all of the attention focused on the new baby, Lady begins to feel neglected for the first time in her life. Not only that, but a brash stray named Tramp keeps nosing his way into her life as well.

Now, looking at this film, some might think that the “villain” of this film is Aunt Sarah, the mean lady with the Siamese cats, who muzzles Lady, and later locks her out of the house and keeps her tied in the yard. However, Aunt Sarah isn’t acting out of malice, she’s just being manipulated by her cats and what she believes to be right. No, the real villain of this story…is the RAT!

I can hear it now, “Rat? What rat??”


THAT rat!! (He’s an ugly thing isn’t he??)

The rat first appears early in the film when Lady is seen going about her morning routine (before Darling becomes pregnant and has her baby). He keeps trying to get in the house, but Lady is always there to chase him off. However, at the end of the film, when Aunt Sarah has Lady tied to the doghouse, the rat is able to slip in with ease, despite Lady barking a frantic warning (that Aunt Sarah ignores). And where is the ugly rat going? To the baby’s room of course!! Yes, that’s right, there’s a disease-ridden rat headed for the baby’s room to do only God knows what. Totally messed up right? Just wait, it gets better.

Lady and the Tramp: The Rat Scene (1955)

Of course Tramp comes barreling into the yard a short time later and Lady is able to tell him about the rat. Tramp goes to make the save and then we see this:


I wish I could get a zoom in on this rat perched on the baby’s crib, looking down at the infant like he’s going to.. *shudders* oh Disney  why do you DO these things??? It’s not that the rat actually does anything, it’s the implication of what’s going to happen that makes this moment so disturbing. (And there’s also that frightening fight between Tramp and the rat that is done mostly in shadow that is SUPER disturbing too.)


What do you think about the rat in Lady and the Tramp? Do you find it disturbing as well, or is it no match for what we see in Disney today? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

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See also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #4: Dumbo loses his mother (1941)

Disturbing Disney #5 The death of Bambi’s Mother

Disturbing Disney #6: Faline vs. the dogs (1942)

Disturbing Disney #7: Cruella wants to do WHAT??

Disturbing Disney #8: The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (from Make Mine Music, 1946)

Disturbing Disney #9: Dr. Facilier’s Fate (The Princess and the Frog, 2009)

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

Disturbing Disney #12: The Bear from The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #13: “Smoking them out” in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Disturbing Disney #14: The Salt Trap in The Jungle Book (1994)

Disturbing Disney #15: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia (1940)

Disturbing Disney #16: King Triton destroys Ariel’s grotto

Disturbing Disney #17: Ratigan becomes a monster in The Great Mouse Detective

Disturbing Disney #18: The Queen’s assignment for her Huntsman

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Lady and the Tramp “The Siamese Cat Song” (1955)

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I just realized it’s been forever since I actually covered a piece of film music, so I thought I’d ease myself back in with one of the less well-known pieces of Disney music: “The Siamese Cat Song” from Lady and the Tramp (1955). Sadly, Lady and the Tramp is not very high on the radar of kids today, which is a shame, as the film is a gem with its animation and songs.

Lady and the Tramp “The Siamese Cat Song” (1955)

“The Siamese Cat Song”, although one of my favorite pieces, is rather controversial, because it contains a blatant Asian stereotype in the form of Si and Am, the two Siamese cats introduced by Aunt Sarah (after Lady’s owners leave for a short vacation). In keeping with their Asian origins, the song is built around a pentatonic (five tone) melody and begins with the ominous ringing of a gong (also strongly associated with Asian cultures in general).


Si and Am = trouble incarnate!!

When Si and Am speak (in unison a lot of the time), they have visible buck teeth. And the way they talk/sing is overly formal with bad English (a parody of Asians speaking in English). For example, here is the first verse:

We are Siamese, if you please

We are Siamese if you *don’t* please

Now we lookin’ over our new domicile

If we like we stay for maybe quite a while

The language is overly formal (note the “if you please”), and the grammar…bad! But stereotypes aside, I really like this song, because while the cats remain very polite in tone throughout their song, their actions reveal that they are nothing but trouble!


In short order, the two cats: topple a vase of flowers, shred the curtains, terrorize the goldfish (narrowly saved from being eaten by Lady), attempt to eat the pet bird, and in general make a huge mess. And then…the baby starts crying upstairs. Being clever cats, Si and Am deduce that there must be fresh milk nearby for the baby (and if so they will gladly help themselves). However, Lady has had enough of these two, and she makes a stand at the top of the stairs. Realizing they’ve gone too far, Si and Am run for it, and all three collide in a heap back in the sitting room, where the two devious felines make it look like Lady started it as soon as Aunt Sarah enters the room. I always hated this part because I knew none of this was Lady’s fault and yet here’s mean Aunt Sarah blaming everything on Lady.

I hope you liked this brief look at “The Siamese Cat Song”

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Pentatonic Music in Film and Cartoons: A look at musical stereotype

It is a sad and frequently overlooked truth that Hollywood is brutally guilty of portraying overtly racist behavior both on and off the silver screen. This includes the film music, as well as the films themselves. While musical stereotyping exists (and continues to exist) on several levels, today I will focus on two examples from one particular area: the use of the pentatonic scale to distinguish Asian characters.

The pentatonic scale is also known as the five-tone scale, because unlike the Western scale, which uses seven notes, the pentatonic scale only uses five (penta- means five, think pentagon, pentagram, etc.).


This is the major pentatonic scale starting on C and it reads: C D E G A

To create the minor pentatonic scale, take the A and move it to the first position, so: A C D E G

A classic example of using the pentatonic scale to denote an Asian character comes in the 1955 Disney film Lady and the Tramp. The scene in question is when Lady is introduced to Aunt Sarah’s Siamese cats (named Si and Am).


As Lady walks by the basket, before seeing the cats, the music plucks out a descending pentatonic scale, which hints at the cats’ origin even before their song begins.

A live-action example can be heard in the first James Bond film Dr. No (1963). The titular character is the first villain Bond encounters. Dr. No claims to be the child of “a German missionary and a Chinese girl of good family.” Because he is half-Chinese (and most of his workers are seen to be Asian), Dr. No’s theme is delivered with a pentatonic sound. Actually, a hint of the theme appears long before the character himself. At the very beginning of the film when Dr. No’s assassin’s are removing the body of Cmdr. Strangways’ secretary; one of the killers is seen rifling through a file drawer and pulling out two files: one reads Crab Key and the other says Dr. No. When the second file plops down on the cabinet, there is a harsh upward pentatonic scale, alluding to the character’s Asian origin.


The first Bond villain: Dr. Julius No

When Dr. No finally does appear (after Bond and Honey have been captured), the theme returns as the audience sees Dr. No’s feet walking in to take a look at Bond in person.

There is so much more to say on this topic, but I wanted to provide a short look for now.

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