Disney Odyssey #24 – We’ll Always Be Friends Forever, Won’t We? WON’T WE?!

Not going to lie, this is one I’ve been dreading a little bit. Pop culture and my foggy childhood memory tells me that The Fox and the Hound is simultaneously one of the most adorable and the most gut-wrenchingly sad Disney movies of all time. Possibly one of the saddest movies ever – although TIME thinks Dumbo and Bambi are sadder. Children all over the world have shed tears over this precious friendship between a foundling baby fox and a wrinkly puppy – and the struggle of love in the face of prejudice. And hunters with guns, too. 

Right? That sounds about right, doesn’t it…?

To cope, we invited our good friends Mel and James over to cry with us while we watched this tragedy unfold. Aaaaand they brought their corgi, Oliver!

Oliver, Mel, and James!

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The Film: The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The Facts:

  • The movie is loosely based on a novel by Daniel P. Mannix – but everything about the novel was changed drastically when the movie was being made.
  • Tod is called such because ‘todde’ is Old English for ‘fox.’ Also, the animation model for Tod was Wolfgang Reitherman’s son’s pet fox. BRUCE REITHERMAN AKA MOWGLI AKA CHRISTOPHER ROBIN HAD A PET FOX, Y’ALL.
  • Did you know this is the first Disney film to use computer graphics??? I sure didn’t. Apparently it’s the scene where Tod and Vixey are trapped in the burrow where much of it was used.
  • Remember in Lady and the Tramp when Trusty was originally written to die at the end? Same thing here – Chief was supposed to die in this movie, but the animators argued that it would be too traumatic for kids. You know what, animators? Too late – this movie is already traumatizing.
  • This is the first film that a young Tim Burton worked on for Disney – uncredited, of course. He was involved in the animation for Vixey.
  • Similarly, it was one of John Lasseter’s first films he worked on. He did the animation for Copper’s introduction, and assisted Glen Keane on the climactic fight scene.
  • Brad Bird (who later directed The Incredibles, The Iron Giant, and Ratatouille) worked on this film.
  • Jeanette Nolan who voices Widow Tweed also voiced the muskrat Ettie Mae in The Rescuers. Her husband John McIntire voiced the grumpy badger in this film (and Rufus the cat in The Resucers too!).
  • During production of this film, animator Don Bluth left the Disney company, taking eleven other animators with him to form his own company (which would go on to produce such classics as The Secret of NIMH, The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and so on and so on).

The Observations:

  • This is hands down the SLOWEST opening sequence to any Disney film ever. Fog? Trees? No music, no birdsong. It sets the tone for the rest of the movie inasmuch as it takes forever for exactly diddly to take place.
  • Then there is a brief chase scene with a mother fox and her baby fleeing hounds – again, tone-setting and eponymous. “It feels a lot like if Bambi started with the Meadow Scene,” Aly observed.
  • “Okay,” James wanted to know. “These birds are clearly Team Fox. Who’s Team Hound?”
  • The woodpecker is voiced by Paul Winchell who, like his forbear voice actor Phil Harris, does nothing to disguise the fact that he is using the same voice as he did in the last movie he was in – that is, this woodpecker sounds just like Tigger, even down to the laugh.
  • “Why are these birds even here?” Mel wondered. “For comedy,” Aly offered. “Yes,” James agreed, “This movie needs more comedy. The main plot’s going south real quick.”
  • Aaaand Chief’s voiced by the Sheriff of Nottingham.
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    Nope. I’m already crying.

  • This is another film which supports the minor Disney theme that Driving Cars Is Really Difficult. See: 101 Dalmatians, The Aristocats, The Rescuers, etc.
  • “Don’t go in there, Tod! He can be awful mean!” “Ah, I’m not scared.” Drew: “I AM TOD; MAKER OF BAD DECISIONS, REFUSER OF PUNISHMENTS.”
  • “Some of these animation frames are not the best,” Mel observed. “Yikes,” added James. The backgrounds are stunningly beautiful and soft but some of the actual animation is genuinely the sloppiest we’ve seen so far in the lineup. It’s a little disorienting.
  • ****Sad Harmonica Theme plays softly in the background****
  • “This is a movie about lonely people and their pets,” Drew decided.
  • SPOTTED: Wart as a Squirrel from Sword in the Stone in the rainstorm scene!
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  • Vixey’s thirst is REAL. All she needed from Big Mama was a “He’s your age” and “he’s handsome” before she was like “GREAT YES LET’S GO FIND HIM”
  • Big Mama has these ‘songs’ that are kind of just…. words that sort of rhyme strung together. I’m not sure what any of them are actually about.
  • [Amos Slade starts a fire in the foxes’ den to smoke them out, then abandons it] James: “Meanwhile, on the other side of this same forest, BAMBI IS HAPPENING AND THIS IS THE FIRE.” Mel: [gasp] “What if he’s the hunter?” Drew: “HEADCANON ACCEPTED.”
  • The bear sequence is COMPLETELY awesome. I’m not sure if it’s because the animators really did a great job with it or if it’s because the rest of the movie drags so much but either way, we collectively really enjoyed this climactic fight.
  • The bear falls down the waterfall but where does it go afterward???? “Oh he’s out there somewhere,” Mel insisted. “There’s no way.”
  • The ending isn’t even really a happy one – it just kind of…closes the story sort of.
  • James: “It’s been thirty-five years… but now… Tod and Copper are back in…. The Fox and The Hound and The Bear: Forest of Vengeance!”
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    Speed dating at its finest.

 

Up Next: The first movie on our list I’ve never seen… The Black Cauldron!


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3 thoughts on “Disney Odyssey #24 – We’ll Always Be Friends Forever, Won’t We? WON’T WE?!

  1. So, basically, little Bruce Reitherman got everythiiiiiing. *is jelly*
    Really, though — this movie is cruel to the emotions. And that bear was not of this world. 0_0

    Like

  2. Did anyone else feel terribly bad for the bear? I wanted him to eat the hunter at the end and then become friends with Tod and Copper. Maybe I’m just weird, but I really liked the bear. (As a side note, I may have collected teddy bears as a child and had quite an affinity towards them).

    Like

  3. Pingback: Disney Odyssey #23 – Diamonds Are Forever But Little Girls Are (Apparently) Replaceable | Alyson Grauer

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