The Fox And The Hound (1981)

Directed by: Ted Berman/Richard Rich/Art Stevens

Written by: Larry Clemmons/Ted Berman/David Michener/Peter Young/Burny Mattinson/Steve Hulett/Earl Kress/Vance Gerry

Based on novel by: Daniel P. Mannix

Soooooo, I might have said this before about a different movie, but this is my absolute favorite Disney movie. I saw it in the theatre when it came out. Then someone got me one of those story records (a picture disc!). I didn’t see the movie again, but I listened to that record over and over and over and over again.

Fast forward about 15 years. I’m working at Blockbuster and the movie’s re-released on video. We pop it in the kid’s corner VCR.

I knew every single word of dialogue still.

The Fox And The Hound is about two young boys who are from completely different walks of life becoming the very best of friends. Then, as so often happens, life gets in the way. They move away from each other and their true natures come out. When they meet up again, they’re on opposite sides of the law. Not even friendship can truly bring them back together.

Of course, this is a Disney movie, so it’s about a fox and a hound and there are plenty of other animal friends to go along with them. Tod (Keith Mitchell as a kid and Mickey Rooney as an adult) is a baby fox whose mother is killed by a hunter. Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan) adopts him after Big Mama, Dinky, and Boomer (Pearl Bailey, Dick Bakalyan, and Paul Winchell) lead her to him.

Copper (Corey Feldman as a kid and Kurt Russell as an adult) is a bloodhound adopted by Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), a seemingly pretty bloodthirsty hunter. I’m pretty sure he’s the one who killed Tod’s mom…which means that her pelt is probably one of the ones that the birds show Tod in Amos’s shed.

Tod and Copper meet and become super close really quickly (as kids do), much to the chagrin of Amos. He’s constantly chasing Tod away, trying to shoot him, threatening the Widow with bodily harm…he’s an ass.

Soon enough Copper goes off with Amos and his other dog, Chief (Pat Buttram) to learn how to hunt. Big Mama warns Tod that “forever is a long, long time” and his friend won’t be the same when he comes back.

He comes back. A chase ensues. Chief gets hurt. Amos threatens the Widow again. Copper vows revenge. The most heartbreaking “leaving an animal behind” scene ever happens. Like, spoken word song (“Goodbye May Seem Forever”), everyone weeps uncontrollably. Tod is left alone to his own devices. Badgers are assholes.

By the way, Amos is a horrible human being. He follows Tod into the forest after Widow leaves him there, sets traps, and waits for him to come through. (Meanwhile, Tod has met Vixey (Sandy Duncan).) Then he proceeds to nearly burn down the entire nature preserve (which it’s illegal to hunt in) just to catch one fox that he has a personal vendetta against.

Copper and Tod should have let the bear that attacks them eat him.

Among the animators on this movie were a few kids names John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton, and Henry Selick. Don Bluth also worked on it, but quit towards the beginning of production because he hated working with Wolfgang Reitherman. He asked to not be credited and got about 13 other young animators to turn in their resignations, too.

I gave it five stars because…well…it’s my website. I can do whatever I want. I may very well not be among the best of the Disney crop. It’s fairly pedestrian, story-wise, and super predictable. But the animation is great (especially that bear attack) and the message is pretty spot on (society sometimes pushes us in the wrong direction, destroying friendships, but we have to make the best of it and try to be happy, anyway).

I haven’t read the book that it was based on. After reading a quick synopsis, I honestly have no interest in reading it. It sounds absolutely horrifying! The move ends kind of bittersweetly, but it’s generally happy. The book, though, has the saddest ending possible. Take the saddest ending you can think of. Now, scrap that and make it EVEN SADDER. Then, scrap that because it’s JUST NOT SAD ENOUGH. No one can have a happy ending!!

I won’t even tell you what happens because you’ll have nightmares. Go read about it yourself. If you dare.

The blu-ray that I have includes the sequel from 2006. Again, I haven’t seen it, but it’s about Copper nearly joining a gang of singing strays and Tod talking him out of it. Of course, it takes place before Copper goes off to learn to hunt.

I don’t even know what to say about that. But, Copper. Dude. You gotta know that when you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet.

What is wrong with Disney?

Anyway, if you’ve somehow never seen The Fox And The Hound, get thee to a streaming service or blu-ray depository ASAP.