The Fox and the Hound is a 1981 American animated buddy drama film produced by Walt Disney Productions and loosely based on the novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix. The 24th Disney animated feature film, the film tells the story of two unlikely friends, a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper, who struggle to preserve their friendship, despite their emerging instincts and the surrounding social pressures demanding them to be adversaries. Directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens, the film features the voices of Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey (in her final theatrical role), Jack Albertson (in his final theatrical role), Sandy Duncan, Jeanette Nolan, Pat Buttram, John Fiedler, John McIntire, Dick Bakalyan, Paul Winchell, Keith Mitchell, and Corey Feldman.
The Fox and the Hound was released to theaters on July 10, 1981 (on a double bill with the featurette Once Upon a Mouse) to a modest success. At the time of release it was the most expensive animated film produced to date, costing $12 million. It was re-released to theaters on March 25, 1988. A sequel, The Fox and the Hound 2, was released to DVD on December 12, 2006.
After a baby red fox is orphaned, Big Mama the owl and her friends, Boomer the woodpecker, and Dinky the finch arrange for him to be adopted by a kindly farmer named Widow Tweed. Since the baby fox reminds her of a little toddler, Tweed names him "Tod". Meanwhile, her neighbor, an ill-tempered hunter named Amos Slade, brings home a baby hound puppy named Copper and introduces him to his hunting dog Chief. Though he grows jealous of him at first, Chief grows fond of Copper like a son. Sometime later, Tod and Copper meet for the first time become playmates and vow to remain "friends forever". Slade becomes frustrated with Copper for frequently wandering off to play and puts him on a leash. While playing with Copper at his home, Tod accidentally awakens Chief. Slade and Chief chase him until they are confronted by Tweed, who shoots Slade's radiator with his shooting gun. After a brief but violent argument, Amos agrees to spare Tod as long as he stays off of his property. Hunting season comes and Amos takes Chief and Copper into the wilderness for the interim. Meanwhile, Big Mama, Dinky and Boomer attempt to explain to Tod that his friendship with Copper can no longer continue, as they are natural enemies, but Tod naively refuses to believe them, hoping that their friendship is stronger.
As months pass, Tod and Copper both reach adulthood. Copper has become an experienced hunting dog, while Tod has grown up into a strong handsome fox. On the night of Copper's return, Tod sneaks over to visit him, much to Copper's delight. Copper explains that while he still values Tod as a friend, he is now a hunting dog and things are different. Their conversation awakens Chief, who immediately alerts Amos. In the ensuing chase Copper catches Tod. Copper lets the fox go for just one time and attempts to distract Chief and Amos. Tod tries escaping on a railroad track, but is caught and pursued by Chief as a train suddenly passes by them. Tod ducks under the train, but Chief is struck by the train and falls into a river below, breaking his leg. Copper, seeing his foster father hurt, is fully devastated by this. Believing Tod intended to let Chief fall of the train track, Copper and Amos angrily vow revenge on Tod. Widow Tweed, realizing that Tod is no longer safe with her, takes him on a drive the following morning and leaves him at a game preserve.
Tod's first night alone in the woods proves disastrous, inadvertently entering an irritable badger's den. Thankfully, a friendly porcupine offers Tod shelter. That same night, Slade and Copper plan revenge on Tod with a leg-hold trap. The next morning, Big Mama finds Tod and introduces him to a sweet and beautiful female fox named Vixey. Wanting to impress her, Tod tries to catch a fish, but fails due to not having survival skills. Vixey and the other animals laugh at him (much to Tod's anger), but Big Mama directs Tod to be himself. Tod gives Vixey a flower as an apology, and the two foxes reconcile, and begin a relationship. Vixey then shows Tod how to survive in the woods.
The next morning, Amos and Copper trespass into the preserve in order to hunt Tod for their revenge. As Tod manages to escape Slade's leghold traps, Copper and Slade pursue both foxes. They hide in their burrow while Slade tries trapping them by setting fire to the other end of the burrow. The foxes narrowly escape without getting burned as Slade and Copper chase them up the top of a hill until they reach a waterfall. There, Slade and Copper close in for the kill, but a large bear suddenly emerges and attacks Slade, who then falls and steps into one of his own traps, dropping his gun slightly out of reach. Copper tries fighting the bear but is no match for it. Not willing to let his old friend die, Tod intervenes and fights off the bear until they both fall down the waterfall.
With the bear gone, a bewildered Copper approaches Tod as he lies exhausted near the bank of a waterfall-created lake. Realizing Tod is still his best friend, Copper feels guilty for what he had done. When Amos appears with his rifle, intending to kill Tod, Copper positions himself in front of Tod to prevent Amos from shooting him, refusing to move away. Amos, realizing the friendship between the two animals despite their differences, feels remorseful for his violent actions and cold temper, and lowers his gun and leaves home with Copper. Both former friends share one last smile before parting. At home, Widow Tweed nurses Amos (howling and complaining)'s foot back to health while Chief and Copper rest in their barrels. Copper, before taking a nap, smiles as he remembers the day when he first met Tod. On a hill, Vixey joins Tod as they look down on the homes of Slade and Tweed.
- Mickey Rooney as Tod
- Kurt Russell as Copper
- Pearl Bailey as Big Mama
- Jack Albertson as Amos Slade
- Sandy Duncan as Vixey
- Jeanette Nolan as Widow Tweed
- Pat Buttram as Chief
- John Fiedler as The Porcupine
- John McIntire as Mr. Digger the Badger
- Dick Bakalyan as Dinky
- Paul Winchell as Boomer
- Keith Mitchell as Young Tod
- Corey Feldman as Young Copper
- Jess Ingerslev - Mikkel
- Claus Ryskjær - Mads
- Lone Kellermann - Ugle Mor
- Hugo Herrestrup - Orla Olsen
- Kirsten Hansen-Møller - Mille
- Elin Reimer - Tante Tille
- Poul Thomsen - King
- Jesper Klein - Peter Pindsvin
- Peter Kitter - Jakob Grævling
- Iben Wurbs - Nolle
- Jesper Klein - Egon
- Kim Soya - Lille Mads
- Hannibal Nielsen - Lille Mikkel
Wolfgang Reitherman read the original novel in which he found particularly touching since one of his sons owned a pet fox years before. He decided it would make for a good animated feature for which production of the film began in spring 1977. Reitherman, Art Stevens, and Ron Miller quarreled over key sections of the film with Miller supporting the younger Stevens. Miller instructed Reitherman to surrender reins over the junior personnel,Stub but Reitherman resisted due to a lack of trust in the young animators.Stub Thinking the movie had a weak second act, Reitherman decided to add a musical sequence of two swooping cranes voiced by Phil Harris and Charo who would sing a silly song titled "Scoobie-Doobie Doobie Doo, Let Your Body Turn Goo". Live-action reference footage was shot of Charo in a sweaty pink leotard, but the scene was strongly disliked by studio personnel who felt the song was a distraction from the main plot with Stevens stating "We can't let that sequence in the movie! It's totally out of place!"Stub Stevens notified studio management and after many story conferences, the scene was removed. Reitherman later walked into Stevens's office, slumped in a chair, and said, "I dunno, Art, maybe this is a young man’s medium." He later moved onto to undeveloped projects such as Catfish Bend and died in 1985.Stub
By late 1978, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Cliff Nordberg had completed their animation. Thomas had animated scenes of Tod and Cooper using dialogue Larry Clemmons had wrote and recorded with the child actors.Stub This project would mark the last film to have the involvement of the Disney's Nine Old Men who had retired early during production, and animation was turned over the next generation of directors and animators, which included John Lasseter, John Musker, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Henry Selick, Chris Buck, and Mark Dindal, all of whom would finalize the animation and complete the film's production. These animators had moved through the in-house animation training program, and would play an important role in the Disney Renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s.
However, the transition between the old guard and the new resulted in arguments over how to handle the film. Reitherman had his own ideas on the designs and layouts that should be used, but the newer team backed Stevens. Animator Don Bluth animated several scenes including of Widow Tweed milking her cow, Abigail, while his team worked on the rest of the sequence, and when Tweed fires at Amos Slade's automobile. Nevertheless, he declared Disney's work "stale" and on his forty-second birthday, September 13, 1979, Bluth, along with Gary Goldman and John Pomeroy, entered Ron Miller's office and turned in their resignation. Following their resignations, thirteen animators followed suit in their resignations. Though Bluth and his team had animated substantial scenes, they asked not to receive screen credit. With 17% of the animators now gone, Miller ordered all of the resigning animators off the studio lot by noon of that same day and would later push the release of The Fox and the Hound from Christmas 1980 to summer 1981. New animators were hired and promoted to fill the ranks. To make up for the lack of experience of the new animators, much of the quality control would rely upon a corp of veteran assistant animators.Stub Four years after production started, the film was finished with approximately 360,000 drawings, 110,000 painted cels and 1,100 painted backgrounds making up the finished product. A total of 180 people, including 24 animators, worked on the film.
In an earlier version of the film, Chief was slated to die the same as in the novel. However, the scene was modified to have Chief survive with a cast on his back paw. Animator Ron Clements, who had briefly transitioned into the story department, protested that "Chief has to die. The picture doesn't work if he just breaks his leg. Copper doesn't have motivation to hate the fox." Likewise, younger members of the story team pleaded with Stevens to have Chief killed. Stevens countered that "Geez, we never killed a main character in a Disney film and we're not starting now!" The younger crew members took the problem to upper management who would also back Stevens.Stub Ollie Johnston's test animation of Chief stomping around the house with his leg in a cast was eventually kept, and Randy Cartwright re-animated the scene where Copper finds Chief's body and had him animate Chief's eyes opening and closing so the audience knew that he was not dead.
Early into production, the principal characters such as young Tod and Copper, Big Mama, and Amos Slade had already been cast. The supporting characters were casted by Disney voice regulars including Pat Buttram for Chief, Paul Winchell for Boomer, and Mickey Rooney for adult Tod who had just finished filming Pete's Dragon. Jeanette Nolan was the second choice for Widow Tweed after Helen Hayes turned down the part.Stub The last role to be cast was for adult Cooper. Jackie Cooper had auditioned for the role, but left the project when he demanded more money than the studio was willing to pay. While filming the Elvis television movie, former Disney child actor Kurt Russell was cast following a reading that had impressed the filmmakers, and completed his dialogue in two recording sessions.Stub
|The Fox and the Hound|
|1.||"Best of Friends"||Stan Fidel||Pearl Bailey|
|2.||"Lack of Education"||Jim Stafford||Pearl Bailey|
|3.||"A Huntin' Man"||Jim Stafford||Jack Albertson|
|4.||"Appreciate the Lady"||Jim Stafford||Pearl Bailey|
|5.||"Goodbye May Seem Forever"||Jeffrey Patch||Jeanette Nolan and Chorus|
In The Animated Movie Guide, Jerry Beck considered the film "average", though he praises the voice work of Pearl Bailey as Big Mama, and the extreme dedication to detail shown by animator Glen Keane in crafting the fight scene between Copper, Tod, and the bear.Stub In The Disney Films, Leonard Maltin also notes that the fight scene between Copper, Tod, and the bear received great praise in the animation world. Maltin felt the film relied too much on "formula cuteness, formula comedy relief, and even formula characterizations". Overall, he considered the film "charming" stating that it is "warm, and brimming with personable characters" and that it "approaches the old Disney magic at times."
Craig Butler from All Movie Guide stated that the film was a "warm and amusing, if slightly dull, entry in the Disney animated canon." He also called it "conventional and generally predictable" with problems in pacing. However, he praised the film's climax and animation, as well as the ending. His final remark is that "Two of the directors, Richard Rich and Ted Berman, would next direct The Black Cauldron, a less successful but more ambitious project." Richard Corliss of Time, praised the film for an intelligent story about prejudice. He argued that the film shows that biased attitudes can poison even the deepest relationships, and the film's bittersweet ending delivers a powerful and important moral message to audiences.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Times also praised the film, saying that "for all of its familiar qualities, this movie marks something of a departure for the Disney studio, and its movement is in an interesting direction. The Fox and the Hound is one of those relatively rare Disney animated features that contains a useful lesson for its younger audiences. It's not just cute animals and frightening adventures and a happy ending; it's also a rather thoughtful meditation on how society determines our behavior." TV Guide gave the film four out of five stars, saying that "The animation here is better than average (veteran Disney animators Wolfgang Reitherman and Art Stevens supervised the talents of a new crop of artists that developed during a 10-year program at the studio), though not quite up to the quality of Disney Studios in its heyday. Still, this film has a lot of "heart" and is wonderful entertainment for both kids and their parents. Listen for a number of favorites among the voices."
Michael Scheinfeld of Common Sense Media gave the film's quality a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, stating that the film "develops into a thoughtful examination of friendship and includes some mature themes, especially loss."
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that the film received a 69% approval rating with an average rating of 6.6/10 based on 26 reviews. The website's consensus states that "The Fox and the Hound is a likeable, charming, unassuming effort that manages to transcend its thin, predictable plot".
In its original release, The Fox and the Hound grossed $39.9 million in domestic grosses. Its distributor rentals were reported to be $14.2 million while its international rentals grossed $43 million. The film was re-released theatrically on March 25, 1988, where it grossed $23.5 million. The Fox and the Hound has had a lifetime gross of $63.5 million across its original release and reissue.
|1982||10th Saturn Awards||Best Fantasy Film||Nominated|
|1982 Golden Screen Awards||Won|
|5th Youth in Film Awards||Best Motion Picture - Fantasy or Comedy - Family Enjoyment||Nominated|
As well as adaptations of the film itself, comic strips featuring the characters also appeared in stories unconnected to the film. Examples include The Lost Fawn, in which Copper uses his sense of smell to help Tod find a fawn who has gone astray; The Chase, in which Copper must safeguard a sleepwalking Chief; and Feathered Friends, in which the birds Dinky and Boomer have to go to desperate lengths to save one of Widow Tweed's chickens from a wolf.
A comic adaptation of the film, drawn by Richard Moore, was published in newspapers as part of Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales. A comic-book titled The Fox and the Hound followed, with new adventures of the characters. Since 1981 and up to 2007, a few Fox and the Hound Disney comics stories were produced in Italy, Netherlands, Brazil, France, and the United States.
- Main article: The Fox and the Hound 2
A sequel, The Fox and the Hound 2, was released to DVD on December 12, 2006. The film takes place during Tod and Copper's youth, before the events of the later half of the first film.
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