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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 32: "The Fox and the Hound"

(Originally published on 8/10/22)


The Fox and the Hound

Run time: 83 min.

Release Date: July 10, 1981.

Where/when I first saw it: Arlington Theater, summer of 1981

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Sunday afternoon

This film marks the final bow for the beloved “nine old men” who started with the Disney studios over forty years prior. Perhaps that’s why I responded so strongly to it this time around (which may have been the first time watching it since I was a kid in 1981). Three sequences stuck out at me that I would put up there with some of Disney’s strongest moments. First, the opening credits sequence. While maybe not exceptional on the surface, there's something deeply poetic about just the sound of a forest as the animators give us layers and layers of trees and shrubs, letting the multi-plane camera do all the work and recalling the landscape of “Snow White” and “Bambi.” No music. None needed.

Second, the scene in which Widow Tweed (voiced by Jeanette Nolan) has to take Tod out to a faraway forest and leave him there in order to save him, is Pixar-level emotional. All the facial expressions, the visual storytelling and the music make for one of Disney’s most heartbreaking moments, made all the more sad because we know it’s for the best. Third, the final action sequence, involving Tod, Copper, Vexie, Amos and now a bear is among the best sequences of peril the studio has had up to this point. Beautifully mapped out, cut together and suspenseful in a way that makes us believe any outcome is possible for these characters, good or bad. The final shot is also a winner.

The film does lose some momentum whenever the side characters get too much screen time, making the film a little too cartoon-y for its own good, and the first scene of peril, in which young Tod is being chased by the trigger-happy Amos, is scored all wrong for a scene that is a major, dramatic turning point in Tod and Copper’s friendship. It’s played for laughs, presumably to not scare off the kids in the audience too soon, I suppose (plenty of time for that later). On the whole, though, “The Fox and the Hound” represents a worthy farewell this era of the studio and is the first time since Walt’s death where those left in charge will have to forge ahead into unknown creative territory. While that time between “The Jungle Book” and this (‘67-’81) is bumpy and lacking in a singular voice to drive the storytelling, there are little, unassuming gems in there, this one being one of them.


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