The Fox and the Hound

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The Fox and the Hound
Directed by
Produced by
Story by
Based onThe Fox and the Hound
by Daniel P. Mannix
Music byBuddy Baker
John Debney
Edited by
  • James Melton
  • Jim Koford
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • July 10, 1981 (1981-07-10)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[1]
Box office$63.5 million[2]

The Fox and the Hound is a 1981 American animated buddy drama movie. It was produced by Walt Disney Productions. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix. It is the 24th Disney animated movie. The movie tells the story of two unlikely friends, a red fox named Tod and a hound dog named Copper. They struggle to preserve their friendship, despite their emerging instincts and the people around them demanding them to be enemies. Directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens, the movie features the voices of Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, 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 to financial success.[3] At the time of release it was the most expensive animated movie produced to date, costing $12 million.[1] It was re-released to theaters on March 25, 1988.[3] A direct-to-video followup, The Fox and the Hound 2, was released to DVD on December 12, 2006.

Plot[change | change source]

A young red fox is orphaned. Big Mama the owl, Boomer the woodpecker, and Dinky the finch arrange for him to be adopted by a kindly farmer named Widow Tweed. Widow names him Tod, since he reminds her of a toddler. Meanwhile, her neighbor, a hunter named Amos Slade, brings home a young hound puppy named Copper and introduces him to his hunting dog Chief. Tod and Copper become playmates and promise to remain "friends forever". Amos 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. Amos and Chief chase him until they are confronted by Widow. After a violent argument, Amos threatens to kill Tod if he trespasses on his farm again. Hunting season comes and Amos takes his dogs 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 he and Copper will remain friends forever.

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. Copper explains that while he still values Tod as a friend, he is now a hunting dog and things are different. Their conversation accidentally awakens Chief, who alerts Amos. In the chase that follows Copper catches Tod. Copper lets the fox go and distracts Chief and Amos. Tod tries escaping on a railroad track, but is caught and chased 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. Angered by this, Copper and Amos furiously blame Tod for the accident and swear vengeance. Widow, realizing that Tod is no longer safe with her, takes him on a drive and leaves him at a game preserve.

Tod's first night alone in the woods proves disastrous, accidentally entering a grumpy badger's den. Thankfully, a friendly porcupine offers Tod shelter. That same night, Amos and Copper plan revenge on Tod. The next morning, Big Mama finds Tod and introduces him to a 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, but Big Mama directs Tod to be himself. The two foxes reconcile and Vixey helps Tod adapt to life in the forest.

Meanwhile, Amos and Copper trespass into the preserve to hunt Tod. As Tod manages to escape Amos's leghold traps, Copper and Amos chase both foxes. They hide in their burrow while Amos tries trapping them by setting fire to the other end of the burrow. The foxes barely escape without getting burned as Amos and Copper chase them up the top of a hill until they reach a waterfall. There, Amos and Copper close in for the kill, but accidentally antagonize a large grizzly bear, which suddenly emerges and attacks Amos, who tumbles down the ravine, and ends up getting his foot caught in one of his own steel traps, and his gun falls slightly out of his reach. Copper tries to protect master fighting the bear, but is soon overwhelmed in a very vicious fight. Not willing to let his old friend die, Tod intervenes to save his friend and continues to battle the much larger bear and ends up luring him onto a fallen trunk, which breaks and sends the two animals 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. When Amos appears, Copper positions himself in front of Tod to prevent Amos from shooting him, refusing to move away. Amos lowers his gun and leaves with Copper. The former friends share one last smile before parting. At home, Widow nurses Amos back to health while the dogs rest. Copper, before resting, 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 Amos and Widow.

Cast[change | change source]

Production[change | change source]

Development[change | change source]

Wolfgang Reitherman read the original novel. He found it particularly touching because one of his sons owned a pet fox years before. He decided it would make for a good animated movie. Production of the movie began in spring 1977.[3][4] Reitherman, Art Stevens, and Ron Miller fought over major parts of the movie with Miller supporting the younger Stevens. Miller told Reitherman to give up the junior personnel,[5] but Reitherman did not because of a lack of trust in the young animators.[6] 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. They 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. They thought the song was a distraction from the main plot. Stevens said "We can't let that sequence in the movie! It's totally out of place!"[7] 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 a car accident in 1985.[8]

Animation[change | change source]

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 written and recorded with the child actors.[9] This project would mark the last movie to have the involvement of the Disney's Nine Old Men. They had retired early during production.[10] Animation was turned over the next generation of directors and animators, which included John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, 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 movie's production. These animators had moved through the in-house animation training program. They would play an important role in the Disney Renaissance of the 1980s and 1990s.[11]

However, the transition between the old guard and the new resulted in arguments over how to handle the movie. 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 42nd 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, 13 animators followed suit in their resignations. Though Bluth and his team had animated substantial scenes, they asked not to receive screen credit.[10] With 17% of the animators now gone,[3] Miller ordered all of the resigning animators off the studio lot by noon of that same day. He 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.[12][13] Four years after production started, the movie 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 movie.[3]

Writing[change | change source]

In an earlier version of the movie, Chief was supposed to die the same as in the novel. However, the scene was changed 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.[14] 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.[13]

Casting[change | change source]

Early into production, the main characters such as young Tod and Copper, Big Mama, and Amos Slade had already been cast. The supporting characters were cast 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.[15] 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 moviemakers, and completed his dialogue in two recording sessions.[16]

Soundtrack[change | change source]

The Fox and the Hound
Soundtrack album by Various artists
GenreChildren's, Classical
LabelWalt Disney

The soundtrack album for the movie was released in 1981 by Walt Disney Records.[17] It contains songs written by Stan Fidel, Jim Stafford, and Jeffrey Patch.[18]

Track listing[change | change source]

No. TitleWriter(s)Performer(s) Length
1. "Best of Friends"  Stan FidelPearl Bailey  
2. "Lack of Education"  Jim StaffordPearl Bailey  
3. "A Huntin' Man"  Jim StaffordJack Albertson  
4. "Appreciate the Lady"  Jim StaffordPearl Bailey  
5. "Goodbye May Seem Forever"  Jeffrey PatchJeanette Nolan and Chorus  

Release[change | change source]

Home media[change | change source]

The Fox and the Hound was first released on VHS on March 4, 1994 as the last video of the "Walt Disney Classics" collection (it was not included in the "Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection"). On May 2, 2000, it was released to Region 1 DVD for the first time under the "Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection".[19] A 25th anniversary special edition DVD was released on October 10, 2006.[20]

The Fox and the Hound was released on Blu-ray Disc on August 9, 2011 for the movie's 30th anniversary. The movie was released in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack alongside its direct-to video followup The Fox and the Hound 2 in a 2-movie Collection Edition. Featuring a new digital restoration, the Blu-ray transfer presents the movie for the first time in 1.66:1 widescreen and also features 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The Fox and the Hound 2 is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and features the same sound as the first movie.[21] A DVD-only edition was also released on the same day.[21]

Reception[change | change source]

Critical reaction[change | change source]

In The Animated Movie Guide, Jerry Beck considered the movie "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 making the fight scene between Copper, Tod, and the bear.[22] 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 thought the movie relied too much on "formula cuteness, formula comedy relief, and even formula characterizations".[23] Overall, he considered the movie "charming" saying that it is "warm, and brimming with personable characters" and that it "approaches the old Disney magic at times."[24]

Craig Butler from All Movie Guide said that the movie 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 movie'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."[25] Richard Corliss of Time, praised the movie for an intelligent story about prejudice. He argued that the movie shows that biased attitudes can poison even the deepest relationships, and the movie's bittersweet ending delivers a powerful and important moral message to audiences.[26]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Times also praised the movie, 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."[27] TV Guide gave the movie 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."[28]

Michael Scheinfeld of Common Sense Media gave the movie's quality a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, saying that the movie "develops into a thoughtful examination of friendship and includes some mature themes, especially loss."[29]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes said that the movie 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".[30]

Box office[change | change source]

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.[31] The movie was re-released theatrically on March 25, 1988,[3] where it grossed $23.5 million.[32] The Fox and the Hound has had a lifetime gross of $63.5 million across its original release and reissue.[33]

Awards[change | change source]

The movie was awarded a Golden Screen Award (German: Goldene Leinwand) in 1982. In the same year, it was also nominated for a Young Artist Award and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.[34]

Year Ceremony Award Result
1982 10th Saturn Awards[35] Best Fantasy Film Nominated
1982 Golden Screen Awards[34] Won
5th Youth in Film Awards[34][36] Best Motion Picture - Fantasy or Comedy - Family Enjoyment Nominated

Legacy[change | change source]

As well as adaptations of the movie itself, comic strips featuring the characters also appeared in stories unconnected to the movie. Examples include The Lost Fawn, in which Copper uses his sense of smell to help Tod find a fawn who has gone astray;[37] The Chase, in which Copper must safeguard a sleepwalking Chief;[38] 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.[39]

A comic adaptation of the movie, drawn by Richard Moore, was published in newspapers as part of Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales.[40] 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.[41]

Followup[change | change source]

A direct-to-video followup, The Fox and the Hound 2, was released to DVD on December 12, 2006. The followup takes place during Tod and Copper's childhood, before the events of the later half of the first movie.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Ansen, David (July 13, 1981). "Forest Friendship". Newsweek: 81. 
  2. "The Fox and the Hound (1981)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Fox and the Hound, The (film) - D23". Disney D23. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  4. Grant, John (April 30, 1998). The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters: From Mickey Mouse to Hercules. Disney Editions. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-7868-6336-5. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. Hulett 2014, p. 33.
  6. Beck 2005, p. 86.
  7. Hulett 2014, p. 34.
  8. Sito 2006, p. 289.
  9. Sito 2006, p. 298.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Cowley, John. "The Animated Films of Don Bluth". Cataroo. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  11. Finch, Christopher (2004). "The End of an Era". The Art of Walt Disney. p. 260–66.
  12. Sito 2006, p. 290.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Sito, Tom (November 1998). "Disney's The Fox and the Hound: The Coming of the Next Generation". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  14. Hulett 2014, p. 39.
  15. Hulett, p. 35.
  16. Hulett 2014, p. 37.
  17. "The Fox and the Hound - Soundtrack Details". Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  18. "Various - The Fox and the Hound (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  19. "The Fox and the Hound: Gold Collection DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  20. "The Fox and the Hound 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "The Fox and the Hound and The Fox and the Hound 2: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  22. Beck 2005, p. 87.
  23. Maltin, Leonard (2000). "Chapter 3: Without Walt". The Disney Films. p. 275.
  24. Maltin, Leonard (2010). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. p. 490. ISBN 0-451-22764-6.
  25. "The Fox and the Hound (1981)". Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  26. Corliss, Richard (July 20, 1981). "Cinema: The New Generation Comes of Age".
  27. Ebert, Roger (January 1, 1981). "The Fox and the Hound Movie Review (1981)". Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  28. "The Fox And The Hound: Review". Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  29. Michael Scheinfeld. "The Fox and the Hound Movie Review". Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  30. "The Fox and the Hound". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
  31. Thomas, Bob (September 19, 1984). "Walt Disney Productions returns to animation". Lewison Daily Sun. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  32. "The Fox and the Hound (reissue) (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  33. "The Fox and the Hound Release Summary". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 "The Fox and the Hound - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  35. "Past Saturn Awards". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  36. "5th Annual Awards". Young Artist Association. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  37. "The Lost Fawn". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  38. "The Chase". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  39. "Feathered Friends". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  40. A. Becattini, L. Boschi, La produzione sindacata, 1984, p. 55.
  41. "List of 'The Fox and the Hound' Comics on Inducks". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012.

Bibliography[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]