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The Fox and the Hound is a 1981 animated feature, loosely based on the Daniel P. Mannix novel of the same name, produced by Walt Disney Productions and released in the United States on July 10, 1981. The 24th movie in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series, the film tells the story of two unlikely best friends, a fox named Tod (voiced by Mickey Rooney) and a hound dog named Copper (voiced by Kurt Russell), who struggle to preserve their friendship, despite their emerging instincts and the surrounding social pressures demanding them to be enemies.

The film is directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich and features the voices of Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, Pearl Bailey, Jack Albertson, Pat Buttram, Jeanette Nolan, Dick Bakalyan, Paul Winchell, and Sandy Duncan. At the time of release, the movie was the most expensive animated film produced to date, costing $12 million.[1]

A direct-to-video midquel called The Fox and the Hound 2 was released on December 12, 2006.

PlotEdit

A young fox kit (Keith Mitchell) is left orphaned when his mom is shot by a hunter. A kindly owl called Big Mama (Pearl Bailey) witnesses the incident and arranges the fox kit to be adopted by the compassionate Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan) as a pet on her farm and names him Tod. Shortly after that, Widow's neighbor, an ill-tempered hunter named Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), brings home a hound dog puppy and names it Copper (Corey Feldman).

Tod and Copper meet and quickly form a fast friendship they feel will last forever. However, Tod's visit to Amos Slade's farm goes disasterously wrong when he inadvertantly wakens the hunter's mean, older dog Chief (Pat Buttram), who promptly chases him throughout the farm and keeps barking at him, with Amos shooting at Tod as well. Even though the pursuit is stopped by a furious Widow Tweed, the belligerent Slade makes it clear that he intends to kill Tod at his first opportunity and says that he won't miss this time.

However, the matter is shelved for the moment with hunting season commencing and Amos takes his dogs into the wilderness for the interim. Months pass, and Copper (who is now fully grown) becomes an excellent hunting dog while Tod (who is also fully grown) refuses to believe that his friendship with him will be gone when Copper returns. Upon Copper's return, Tod meets him, only to find that his friend can barely tolerate his presence beyond a warning to keep his distance from now on for his own sake. Unfortunately, Chief wakes up, barks at Tod and chases him (along with Amos) while Copper reluctantly decides to relent in his assumed role in his hunting role to divert Tod's pursuers. However, Chief maintains the pursuit up on a trestle when a train suddenly approaches. Tod is able to duck under the train, but Chief is hit by the train and is now hurt real bad. Finding Chief wounded in the lake, Copper looks at Tod, growls at him, and swears revenge on his former friend (as he thinks Tod's the one who hurt Chief).

Realizing that Tod can't safely stay on her farm now, Widow leaves him at a nature preserve, but is still very sad to leave her former pet behind. Even though Tod has a difficult time adjusting, Big Mama helps by introducing him to a beautiful Vixen named Vixey (Sandy Duncan) and the two hit it off well.

However, the vengeful Amos Slade and Copper trespass into the preserve to kill Tod with leg traps and gun. The result is a harrowing chase throughout the forest that climaxes when Amos and Copper inadvertantly provoke a attack with a disturbed bear (Frank Welker). Against his better judgement, Tod intervenes to save Copper and lures the bear onto a fallen trunk that breaks and sends the two falling down a waterfall. The bear is killed, but Tod survives and meets Copper up at shore, who is stunned to see Tod's heroism for his sake in spite of current events. However, Amos doesn't share any gratitude and suddenly appears, still vindictively eager to kill Tod. Copper makes the moral decision of interposing his body in front of Tod and Amos, reluctant to kill his best hound for a petty vendetta against a fox who had just saved their lives, is forced to relent and return home. The fox and hound dog share one last smile before going their separate ways. Amos hurts his leg from the traps he left, and Widow helps him recover. Amos and Widow finally become good friends.

In the end, Tod and Copper reconcile that they can never be together again, but their love can still be cherished.

CastEdit

  • Mickey Rooney as Tod the fox and the main protagonist.
  • Kurt Russell as Copper Tod's best friend and the deurtagonist.
  • Pearl Bailey as Big Mama
  • Jack Albertson as Amos Slade a hunter who doesn't like pests stealing his chickens and one of the main protagonists.
  • Pat Buttram as Chief Amos Slade's pet dog and one of the protagonists of the film.
  • Jeanette Nolan as Widow Tweed
  • Dick Bakalyan as Dinky
  • Paul Winchell as Boomer (original voice provided by Wallace Shawn)
  • Sandy Duncan as Vixey
  • Keith Mitchell as Young Tod
  • Corey Feldman as Young Copper
  • John Fiedler as Porcupine
  • John McIntire as Mr Digger a mean grumpy badger and the  secondary antagonist.
  • Frank Welker as The unnamed Black Bear is the true main antagonist of the film. The Bear first appeared when Amos Slade  and Copper were pursuing  the two foxes Tod and Vixey. When Amos Slade was about to have a final shoot, the huge bear loomed before Amos and Copper disturbing him. Amos Slade Shoots the evil bear on the shoulder and charged with rage toward the alarmed hunter. Amos Slade was about have a reload, the bear swipe the gun out of Amos's hand and his gun got caught on a tree sapling. The hunter tries to get away from the bear, the trap caught on Amos's leg! The bear was about to eat Amos Slade, Copper tried his best to protect his master and fight. Copper was small and agile for the beast and the bear knocked Copper to the ground. Tod heard Copper's howl and ran to help his childfriend. The bear was about to give Copper a final swipe Tod bit and scratched wildy depsite Copper's better judgement. Tod lured the bear on to the log from high above the raging waterfall. Tod held on for dear life. The bear stepped toward, but, the bear was to heavy for the old log. The bear was about to have one one blow, the log had split in half and missed by mistake. The two animals had plunged into the river many meters below. Tod had survived the fall, and the bear is now dead and was never seen again.

ProductionEdit

Daniel P. Mannix's novel The Fox and the Hound dealt with the quest of a hunter and his dog Copper to shoot Tod after he killed the hunter's new dog Chief. The novel was mainly about Tod's life in the woods. While he was raised by humans he was not childhood friends with Copper and none of the animals spoke. The story was changed to make it more suitable for a family film; instead of a story about the life and death of a fox, it became a parable about how society determines one's role despite his or her better impulses.[2]

Production of the film began in 1977.[3] The film marked a turning point in the studio: Walt Disney's "nine old men" did initial development of the animation, but by the end of production the younger set of Disney animators completed the production process.[4][5][6] Wolfgang Reitherman was producer, and championed staying true to the novel, and Larry Clemmons was head of the story team. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston did much of the early development of the main characters. The newer generation of animators, such as Don Bluth, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, and John Musker, would finalize the animation and complete the film's production. These animators had moved through the in-house animation training program, and would all play an important role in the Disney Renaissance of the eighties and nineties.[4]

However, the transition between the old guard and the new resulting in arguments over how to handle the film. Reitherman has his own ideas on the designs and layouts that should be used, but the newer team backed Stevens. Animator Don Bluth declared Disney's work "stale" and walked out with eleven others to form his own studio. With 17% of the animators now gone, production on The Fox and the Hound was delayed.[3] Bluth had animated Widow Tweed and her cow, Abigail, and his team worked on the rest of the sequence. The exodus of so many animators forced the cancellation of the film's original Christmas 1980 premiere while new artists were hired.[7] 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.[3]

In the original screenplay, Chief was slated to die the same as in the novel, but Stevens didn't want to have an on-screen death and modified the film so that he survived, like Baloo in The Jungle Book, and Trusty in Lady and the Tramp.[7]

ReleaseEdit

The Fox and the Hound opened in theaters on July 10, 1981.[7] It was re-released to theaters on March 25, 1988. Its first home video release, on VHS format, came on March 4, 1994 as the last video of the "Walt Disney Classics" collection (it was not included in the "Masterpiece Collection"). On May 2, 2000, it was released to Region 1 DVD for the first time under the "Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection". A 25th anniversary special edition DVD, featuring a remastered version of the film and a disc of extras, was released on October 10, 2006.

The release of Bambi Blu-ray in March 2011 contained insert providing information that The Fox and the Hound and The Fox and the Hound 2 are to be released as a non-Diamond double-feature Blu-ray in September 2011.[8]

ReceptionEdit

The film was considered a financial success,.[9] 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.[7] 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".[10] 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."[11]

Richard Corliss of Time Magazine, 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.[12]

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."[2]

The film gained a considerable following and it was awarded a Golden Screen Award at the Goldene Leinwand Awards in 1982. It was also nominated for a Young Artist Award and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film. It has a "fresh" 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 21 reviews with a 6.7 score, with a consensus that states, "The Fox and the Hound, is a likeable, charming, unassuming effort that manages to transcend its thin, predictable plot". Among users, the film scored 87% with a 7.1 rating.[13]

Use in other mediaEdit

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;[14] The Chase, in which Copper has to safeguard a sleepwalking Chief;[15] and Feathered Friends, in which Dinky and Boomer have to go to desperate lengths to save one of Widow Tweed's chickens from a wolf.[16]

A comic adaptation of the film, drawn by Richard Moore, was published in newspapers as part of Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales.[17] 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 USA.[18]

MidquelEdit

Main article: The Fox and the Hound 2

A direct-to-video midquel called The Fox and the Hound 2 was released to DVD on December 12, 2006[19] The film takes place during Tod and Copper's youth, before the events of the later half of this movie.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named budget
  2. 2.0 2.1 Suntimes.comRoger Ebert's review of the film
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Template:Cite web
  4. 4.0 4.1 Finch, Christopher: "Chapter 9: The End of an Era", pages 260-266. The Art of Walt Disney, 2004
  5. Variety.comVariety information on Disney Animation school and new animators starting with this film
  6. AWN.com Reference from Animation World Magazine, reference for this section
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Template:Cite book
  8. http://uk.blu-ray.com/news/?id=5897
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named BO
  10. Template:Cite book
  11. Template:Cite book
  12. Time.comTime magazine review.
  13. The Fox and the Hound Movie Reviews, Pictures
  14. inducks.org
  15. inducks.org
  16. inducks.org
  17. A. Becattini, L. Boschi, La produzione sindacata, 1984, p. 55.
  18. List of comics on Inducks
  19. http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/the-fox-and-the-hound-2.html

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