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After a Christmasy opening, filled with carolers and cuteness, Disney's anthropomorphic animals take charge: Jock the Scotty speaks with a burr; Trusty the bloodhound has a Southern accent; a dachshund talks like a comedy Dutchman; a borzoi spouts about Gorky with Russian flourishes. Whimsy is seldom more than a step ahead of whamsy: Jock and Trusty archly explain about sex to Lady just before Tramp does battle with three slavering mastiffs; a comic scene in the dog pound is closely followed by a parody of the "last mile" walk from the death house as a crazed dog is led off to be destroyed. The film's big terror scene takes place in a baby's bedroom, where valiant Tramp kills a red-eyed rat, even though he has to knock over the crib and dump the baby on the floor to do it.
Walt Disney has for so long parlayed gooey sentiment and stark horror into profitable cartoons that most moviegoers are apt to be more surprised than disappointed to discover that the combination somehow does not work this time. The songs, by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke, are naggingly reminiscent of other tunes, but none of the cartoon creaturesexcept, possibly, a whistling beaver playing a bit parthave a fraction of the lovable charm of those in Disney's earlier fables.