|The Fox and the Hound|
|Directed by|| Ted Berman
|Produced by|| Ron Miller
|Written by|| Larry Clemmons
|Starring|| Mickey Rooney
|Music by|| Buddy Baker
|Editors|| James Melton
|Studios|| Walt Disney Productions
|Distributors|| Buena Vista Distribution
|Release date (s)|| July 10, 1981
|Preceded by|| Unknown
|Followed by|| The Fox and the Hound 2
The film has been directed by Ted Berman and Richard Rich under the working title Tod and Copper. Daniel Mannix's original novel has had a more realistic story, which has dealt with the quest of a hunter and his dog Copper to shoot Tod after he has killed the hunter's new dog Chief. The novel has been mainly about Tod's life in the woods. While being raised by humans he has not been childhood friends with Copper and none of the animals spoke. The story has been changed to make it more suitable for a family film; instead of a story about the life and death of a fox, it has become a parable about how society determines our roles despite our better impulses.
At the time of release it has been the most expensive animated film produced to date, costing $12 million. The Fox and the Hound has been the last film which was worked on with animation legends like Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two members of Walt Disney's original "Nine Old Men" who has also worked on this film, with it being the last film for both, as well as the first film for future Disney leaders like Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and Glen Keane, who has animated the bear in this film, and later worked on other animated films like The Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), in which he designed the beast. It was also the final Disney film to have all the credits in the title sequence as opposed to having end credits and have the words, "The End. A Walt Disney Production" at the end of the film, the last Disney animated film to use the Buena Vista logo, and the last Disney film in which Don Bluth has involved in its production.
Despite originally receiving mixed reviews, the film has developed a low cult following and was nominated for three awards. The film stars the voices of Kurt Russell, Mickey Rooney, Pearl Bailey, Pat Buttram, Sandy Duncan, Richard Bakalyan, Paul Winchell, Jack Albertson, Jeanette Nolan, John Fiedler, John McIntire, Keith Mitchell and Corey Feldman. A direct-to-video midquel, The Fox and the Hound 2 , has been released to DVD on December 12, 2006.
The story begins with a mother fox, with fear in her eyes, and a child in her mouth, running all throughout a forest, passing over a mountain, until she reaches a farm. There she hides her baby next to a fence, quietly says goodbye and runs away. She is shot, and we hear gunshots twice. An owl named Big Mama (Pearl Bailey), along with her two bird friends, a sparrow named Dinky (Richard Bakalyan) and a woodpecker named Boomer (Paul Winchell), arrange for him to be adopted by the kindly local farmer widow named Widow Tweed (Jeanette Nolan). She names him Tod (voiced by Keith Coogan), since he reminds her of a toddler. Meanwhile, Widow's neighbor, Amos Slade (Jack Albertson), a hunter, brings home a young hound puppy named Copper (Corey Feldman) and introduces him to his hunting dog Chief (Pat Buttram). Big Mama is delighted to see Tod and Copper become playmates, singing the song "Best of Friends". Tod and Copper play together every day for the next three days, vowing to remain "friends forever." Amos grows frustrated at Copper for constantly wandering off to play, and places him on a leash to prevent him from wandering off. While playing with Copper at his home, Tod awakens Chief. Amos and Chief chase him until they are stopped by Widow.
After he and Widow have an argument, Amos says that he will kill Tod if he catches him on his property again. Hunting season comes and Amos takes his two dogs into the wilderness for the interim. Meanwhile, Big Mama explains to Tod that his friendship with Copper cannot continue with the song "Lack of Education", as they are natural enemies, but Tod refuses to believe her. Months pass, and Tod and Copper reach adulthood. On the night of Copper's return, Tod (Mickey Rooney) sneaks over to meet Copper (Kurt Russell). Copper explains that he is a hunting dog now and things are now going to be different between them. Chief awakens and alerts Amos Slade, a chase ensues, and Copper catches Tod. Copper lets Tod go then diverts Chief and Amos. Chief maintains his pursuit onto a railroad track on a railway bridge, but when a fast moving train suddenly approaches, Tod is able to duck under the vehicle, but Chief is struck by the train and wounded while suffering a broken leg. Enraged by this, Copper and Amos blame Tod for poor Chief's accident and swear vengeance. Later, Amos angrily tells Widow about getting Tod, who almost killed Chief. Now Widow realizes that her pet is no longer safe with her, and takes him on a drive though the woods, singing the song "Goodbye May Seem Forever, and leaves him at a game preserve. Tod's first night alone in the woods is a disaster, accidentally trespassing into a badger's den; the badger (John Mclntire) somewhat meanly tells him to go away. A friendly porcupine (John Fiedler) offers to let him stay with him. That same night, Amos Slade and Copper plan revenge on Tod. The next morning, Big Mama comes looking for Tod, and finds Vixey (Sandy Duncan), a beautiful female fox of Tod's age, who is clearly good friends with Big Mama.
Tod wakes up after being pricked by the porcupine's quills, falls, and lands right on the badger's den. The badger scolds Tod once again. Tod tries to apologize, but the badger thinks Tod is making up excuses. The porcupine tries to defend Tod, (with the badger saying to him "you keep out of this, you walking pin-cushion!"). The porcupine points out that the badger shouldn't be grumpy to a newcomer, to which the badger responds by telling Tod to "go back where you came from". Tod leaves, now more depressed than ever. Big Mama and Vixey arrive. Vixey remarks that he looks downhearted, and Big Mama tells her that "he was dropped out here all alone without a friend in the world". Vixey decides to try to cheer him up, and Big Mama thinks the idea is perfect. Big Mama sets Vixey into the sun light, just so that she will look as beautiful as possible, and introduces Tod to her. Tod first tries to impress Vixey by catching a fish, only to fail, causing Vixey and the other animals of the game preserve to laugh at him. Angry and hurt, Tod tells Vixey that she's "a silly, empty-headed female!" Angered, they refuse to speak to each other, but Big Mama intervenes with the song "Appreciate the Lady" and directs Tod in being himself, and Vixey to give him another chance. They get along very well once Tod admits his lack of survival skills. Vixey is now aware of his inability to survive in the wild and helps him adapt. She allows Tod to be her friend and stay with her in the forest. The two clearly begin to develop a romantic connection.
The vengeful Amos Slade and Copper trespass into the preserve to hunt the two foxes. Amos finds a shadowy path on the way to a pond, sets up the leg-hold traps along the path, and hides them with leaves. Meanwhile, Tod and Vixey emerge from Vixey's burrow, having spent the night there. They both remark about how happy they are with one another and chase each other into the forest playfully. As they come to the trap-laden path, Vixey becomes worried and refuses to go on, but Tod just shrugs it off. Vixey begs him to be careful as he goes down alone. As he walks, he becomes unsettled. Tod's foot uncovers one of Amos' traps, and as the hunter cocks his shotgun. Tod's ears prick up, and the fox steps backwards. Tod narrowly escapes the traps, turning and running as fast as he can whilst Amos' gunshots ring out, and Copper takes off after Tod and Vixey. Tod tells Vixey to head for the burrow, and climbs a rock, ready to attack Copper. As Copper approaches, Tod jumps from the ledge, growling and snarling with rage at his ex-friend. Copper tries to bite him, but Tod dodges Copper's teeth and bites him first. Copper chases Tod into the burrow, however he is too big to fit in and begins thrashing and clawing his way into the hole. Tod and Vixey attempt to exit out the other end. They then hurry back inside when they see Amos waiting with his gun. Amos takes a match and some straw and creates a fire at the back way, blocking their escape. He then joins Copper at the front, ready to shoot the two foxes. Vixey coughs and tells Tod she's scared. Tod tells Vixey that this is their only chance, and he and Vixey sprint as fast as they can out the back, narrowly avoiding the flames to Amos' astonishment. Tod and Vixey scale a mountain with a waterfall nearby as Copper and Amos chase them up the top.
But as Copper and Amos close in on the two foxes, they inadvertently provoke an attack from a large disturbed sleeping grizzly bear. Amos fires one shot only before he gets his foot stuck in one of his own traps and loses his gun, and Copper tries to fight the bear, but he is nearly killed in a very vicious fight. Amos frantically tries to free himself, but the grip of the trap stills holds his foot as tight as possible, whilst Copper battles the bear as this very vicious battle continues to go on for a while, and Copper manages to hold his own for a while until the bear knocks him out when the battles end as the dog is soon overwhelmed. Tod, hearing Copper's yelping echo, looks back and sees the horror of his childhood friend being nearly killed in a very vicious fight. In the moment in which the bear is going to kill Copper, Tod appears out of nowhere, saves Copper, and continues to battle with the bear, leading him to an old log. Just as the bear comes close to Tod, he raises his paw and hits the sprinters of the old log, and the two animals both fall down the waterfall with the fallen trunk plummeting down the waterfall with them. The bear is gone, while Tod struggles to shore.
Copper approaches Tod as he lies in the lake below, amazed at his bravery, in spite of past events, when Amos appears, ready to fire at the fox. Copper interposes his body in front of Tod, and refuses to move away. Amos finally lowers his gun and leaves with Copper, but not before the two former adversaries share one last smile before parting. At home, Widow nurses Amos' ankle back to health while the dogs rest. Copper, before resting, smiles as he remembers the day when he became friends with Tod. On a hill Vixey joins Tod as he looks down on the homes of Copper and Widow.
As the movie fades out, a voice-over of young Tod and young Copper affirming their everlasting friendship is heard in the breeze.