Saturday, July 09, 2016

Thirty-Five Years Back ...

From TAG President Emeritus Tom Sito:

July 9, 1981 - Walt Disney's the "The Fox & The Hound," released. The first animated feature Walt Disney had no input on. Although the film has brief screen credits, it marks the torch being passed from the Nine Old Men golden age generation to the modern generation of animators.

A complete personnel roster would include Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Woolie Reitherman, Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Bill Kroyer, Don Bluth, Lorna Cook, Henry Selick, Brad, Bird, Steve Hulett, John Musker, Jerry Rees, Glen Keane and many more.

The picture made quite a bit of money for the studio, and a direct-to-video sequel was produced, but I always thought the original could have been stronger.

Sure, it has a wham-bam climax animated and boarded by Glen Keane (directed by Rick Rich), but Ron Clements, me and several others argued that the old dog Chief should have been killed to strengthen the story and hunting dog Copper's motivation.

No luck. In the late seventies, killing off a protagonist in Disney animated feature was strictly forbidden. So Chief remained injured but alive, the plot of the picture suffered, but the studio still got itself a profitable picture.

And life went on.

5 comments:

Tom Ruegger said...

The film was directed by: Ted Berman, Richard Rich, Art Stevens.

The writing credit on "The Fox and the Hound" goes like this: based on the book by Daniel P. Mannix. Story by (meaning the screenplay written by): Larry Clemmons, Ted Berman, David Michener, Peter Young, Burny Mattinson, Steve Hulett, Earl Kress and Vance Gerry.

F. Kousac said...

Any film that advances the idea of "separate but equal" isn't much to be proud of. The killing or not of Chief was the LEAST of this film's problems.

Steve Hulett said...

Yeah, the animal/human analogies, are there, but Woolie Reitherman and Larry Clemmons set the plot points in motion. We were trying to make it coherent. We were only partially successful. The middle still sags..

Christopher Sobieniak said...

That direct-to-video sequel was more a story within the middle of the first film since Tod and Copper were still pups for it. Somehow I wanted a film about Tod having pups of his own with Vixy but I guess that wasn't in the cards.

Tom went..
The writing credit on "The Fox and the Hound" goes like this: based on the book by Daniel P. Mannix. Story by (meaning the screenplay written by): Larry Clemmons, Ted Berman, David Michener, Peter Young, Burny Mattinson, Steve Hulett, Earl Kress and Vance Gerry.

A nice case of too many cooks there, though not to knock the final result mind you (I'm still sad Earl Kress isn't with us, he had so many great stories to tell, I never thought to ask him about this movie).

Then Mr, Kousac pointed...
Any film that advances the idea of "separate but equal" isn't much to be proud of. The killing or not of Chief was the LEAST of this film's problems.

It was a hard pill to swallow for what was already a swansong of sorts for the old guard to leave on. Perhaps we need another one of those to remind people it's not all miracles and sunshine!

Then you wrote...
Yeah, the animal/human analogies, are there, but Woolie Reitherman and Larry Clemmons set the plot points in motion. We were trying to make it coherent. We were only partially successful. The middle still sags..

You did your best. I hate to say I haven't seen that film in one sitting for quite a long time now. I suppose I could watch it again and see if my 10-11 year old memory of it holds up well. I suppose I could consciously remove Chief from the story once that part comes up, that way I could enjoy the film as you guys had wanted!

Christopher Sobieniak said...

Any film that advances the idea of "separate but equal" isn't much to be proud of.

I was thinking about it again tonight, and strangely, I thought the message was more about still being friends despite the distance imposed. At least, that's what I thought about it, knowing what it feels like to have know a friend at a young age, and to lose that friend through any sort of situation beyond their control (Dad got a new job so the family had to move to a new place, to name an example). These sorts of things happen all the time, and is something a child may not know how to react to at all without some sort of support or reason to accept that things are what they are. Perhaps "Fox and the Hound" speaks more to those kids who had to overcome those feelings of loss due to such breakups. This film should at least be commemorated for that (unless there had already been an After School Special that addressed those issues before).

I guess I didn't think of it as a sociopolitical issue but I wouldn't put it past those of us who thought that was the film's issue.

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