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The Fox and the Hound

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For the 1967 novel by Daniel P. Mannix, see The Fox and the Hound (novel).
The Fox and the Hound
The Fox and the Hound.jpg
Original theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Story by
  • Larry Clemmons
  • Ted Berman
  • David Michener
  • Peter Young
  • Burny Mattinson
  • Steve Hulett
  • Earl Kress
  • Vance Gerry
Based on The Fox and the Hound 
by Daniel P. Mannix
Music by Buddy Baker
Edited by
  • James Melton
  • Jim Koford
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release dates
  • July 10, 1981 (1981-07-10)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million[1]
Box office $63.5 million[2]

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 film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, 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 Kurt Russell, Mickey Rooney, Jack Albertson, Pearl Bailey, Pat Buttram, Sandy Duncan, Richard Bakalyan, Paul Winchell, Jeanette Nolan, John Fiedler, John McIntire, Keith Coogan, 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 film produced to date, costing $12 million.[1] It was re-released to theaters on March 25, 1988.[3] A direct-to-video midquel, The Fox and the Hound 2, was released to DVD on December 12, 2006.


After 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. Tweed 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 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 awakens Chief. Slade and Chief chase him until they are confronted by Tweed. After a violent argument, Slade says he will kill Tod if he trespasses on his farm again. Hunting season comes and Slade 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 her, 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 into a handsome fox. On the night of Copper's return, Tod sneaks over to meet him. Copper explains that while he still values Tod as a friend, he is now a hunting dog and things are different. Their conversion awakens Chief, who alerts Slade. In the ensuing chase Copper catches Tod. Copper lets the fox go and diverts Chief and Slade. 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. Angered by this, Copper and Slade blame Tod for the accident and vow vengeance. Tweed, now aware that her pet is no longer safe with her, takes Tod on a drive and leaves him at a game preserve.

Tod's first night alone in the woods proves disastrous, accidentally trespassing into an angry old badger's den. Thankfully, a friendly porcupine offers Tod shelter. That same night, Slade 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 straightens the matter by directing Tod to be himself. The two foxes reconcile and Vixey helps Tod adapt to life in the forest.

Meanwhile, Slade and Copper trespass into the preserve in order to hunt Tod. 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 from the bushes and attacks Slade. Slade falls and steps into one of his own traps, dropping his gun slightly out of reach. Copper fights the bear but is no match for it. Not willing to let his old friend die, Tod intervenes and fights 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. When Slade appears, Copper positions himself in front of Tod to prevent Slade from shooting him, refusing to move away. Slade lowers his gun and leaves with Copper. The two former friends share one last smile before parting. At home, Tweed nurses Slade back to health while the dogs rest. Copper, before resting, smiles as he remembers the day when he first became friends with Tod. On a hill, Vixey joins Tod as he looks down on the homes of Slade and Tweed.




Production of the film began in Spring 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, while Larry Clemmons was head of the story team. Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Cliff Nordberg did much of the early development of the main characters.

Transition of animators

The newer generation of directors and animators, including John Lasseter, John Musker, Ron Clements, Glen Keane, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Henry Selick, Chris Buck, and Mark Dindal, 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 1980s and 1990s.[4]

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 declared Disney's work "stale" and walked out with 11 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 did not want to have an on-screen death and modified the film so that he would survive, similar to Baloo in The Jungle Book, and Trusty in Lady and the Tramp.[7]


Critical reception

In The Animated Movie Guide, Jerry Beck considered the film "average", though he praises the voice work of Pearl Bailey as Big Momma, 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".[8] 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."[9]

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."[10]

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.[11]

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."[12]

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."[13]

The film has a "fresh" 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 26 reviews with a 6.6 score. The consensus states that "The Fox and the Hound is a likeable, charming, unassuming effort that manages to transcend its thin, predictable plot".[14]


The film 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.[15]

Year Ceremony Award Result
1982 10th Saturn Awards[16] Best Fantasy Film Nominated
1982 Golden Screen Awards[15] Won
5th Youth in Film Awards[15][17] Best Motion Picture - Fantasy or Comedy - Family Enjoyment Nominated

Home media

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".[18] A 25th anniversary special edition DVD was released on October 10, 2006.[19]

The Fox and the Hound was released on Blu-ray Disc on August 9, 2011 to commemorate the film's 30th anniversary. The film was released in a 3-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack alongside its direct-to video midquel The Fox and the Hound 2 in a 2-movie Collection Edition. Featuring a new digital restoration, the Blu-ray transfer presents the film for the first time in 1.66:1 widescreen and also features 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The midquel is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and features the same sound as the first film.[20] A DVD-only edition was also released on the same day.[20]


The Fox and the Hound
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 1981
Recorded 1980-1981
Genre Children's, Classical
Label Walt Disney

The soundtrack album for the film was released in 1981 by Walt Disney Records.[21] It contains songs written by Stan Fidel, Jim Stafford, and Jeffrey Patch.[22]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Length
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  

Other media

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;[23] The Chase, in which Copper must safeguard a sleepwalking Chief;[24] 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.[25]

A comic adaptation of the film, drawn by Richard Moore, was published in newspapers as part of Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales.[26] 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.[27]


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


  1. ^ a b Ansen, David (July 13, 1981). "Forest Friendship". Newsweek: 81. 
  2. ^ "The Fox and the Hound (1981)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 20, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Fox and the Hound, The (film) - D23". Disney D23. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Finch, Christopher: "Chapter 9: The End of an Era", pages 260-266. The Art of Walt Disney, 2004
  5. ^ Mallory, Michael (October 26, 2003). "Disney's ani classics set the bar and lit the way for future generations". 
  6. ^ Sito, Tom (1998). "Disney's The Fox and the Hound: The Coming of the Next Generation". 
  7. ^ a b c Beck, Jerry (2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. 
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2000). "Chapter 3: Without Walt". The Disney Films. p. 275. 
  9. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2010). Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. p. 490. ISBN 0-451-22764-6. 
  10. ^ "The Fox and the Hound (1981)". Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  11. ^ Richard Corliss (July 20, 1981). "Cinema: The New Generation Comes of Age". 
  12. ^ "The Fox and the Hound Movie Review (1981)". January 1, 1981. 
  13. ^ "The Fox And The Hound: Review". Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Fox and the Hound - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "The Fox and the Hound - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ "5th Annual Awards". Young Artist Association. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Fox and the Hound: Gold Collection DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ "The Fox and the Hound 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "The Fox and the Hound and The Fox and the Hound 2: 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray + DVD Review". DVDDizzy. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  21. ^ "The Fox and the Hound - Soundtrack Details". Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Various - The Fox and the Hound (Vinyl, LP)". Discogs. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Lost Fawn". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  24. ^ "The Chase". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Feathered Friends". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 
  26. ^ A. Becattini, L. Boschi, La produzione sindacata, 1984, p. 55.
  27. ^ "List of 'The Fox and the Hound' Comics on Inducks". Inducks. October 10, 1981. Retrieved July 30, 2012. 

External links