Just before we get started...
HOW TO WATCH THESE TWO FILMS CHRONOLOGICALLY:
The 1981 film The Fox And The Hound was followed in 2006 by The Fox And The Hound 2, which was not a sequel, but a midquel. It takes place at some unspecified point in the middle of the first film. But when exactly? How can the two films be easily watched in the correct linear order?
First of all, there is no chronological order to these scenes that makes perfect sense. Copper's rope, Amos' car and Tod's first encounter with the Chief all pull the order in different directions, but I reckon that the following is the one that works best.
1. Watch The Fox And The Hound up until 26:34:
2. If you really want to you can fit in the DVD extra New Best Friends storybook here.
3. The whole of The Fox And The Hound 2.
4. The rest of The Fox And The Hound.
The Fox And The Hound is one of the finest films ever made.
The Fox And The Hound 2… well, that has good character too.
I had not even a memory. So what happened in it? What???
In 1971 the UK stopped celebrating Whitsun as a bank holiday, so just to spite 'them', my family took this Whitsun Sunday and Monday off, and I treated myself to watching these two films across them.
I was keen to watch the midquel whereever it was chronologically set. Tod (the fox) and Copper (the hound) grow up over the course of the first movie, but I still found it difficult to guage their ages from the cover of the second disc. Eventually I made a call on this (see top) and was so glad that I did.
The second film, while still dramatic in places, is much more daft too. However the opportunity to go on Tod and Copper's emotional journey with them here sure loaded the spring for what becomes of their friendship in the second half of the first film.
Both stories contain outrageously well executed action sequences, inspired lines, and really sad drama, but the first one still easily gets the edge with some absolutely appalling developments.
In true classic Disney style, at the start Tod the fox loses his mum to a pack of fox hunters. Later on though, he loses his adopted 'mom' too, when his human owner is compelled to drive him out to the woods and abandon him forever. I'll let my sticker album take up the tale...
And yet these films are two barrels of laughs too, with loads of catchy songs that very well may stay with me this time. They really got the balancing right here.
For me, the classic first film only really has two drawbacks:
1. When Chief dies, but then later turns out to have only broken his leg. (!) This retcon of the earlier scene robs it of providing Copper's motivation for his bitterness, and as such disables some of its impact. Worse, the injured Chief can only really provide comic relief after that. I wish they'd left that bit as I understand it is in the book. The galling image of Tod looking down through the rain at Copper standing over his friend's limp body deserves it.
2. An extended sequence featuring Tod falling in love. Here's some free advice for you Disney: the male half of your audience hates that. It's a good job that Vixey is so mellow about it all, or this scene'd probably backfire and set us against her.
I would not describe The Fox And The Hound as one of Disney's finest.
I would, however, describe it as one of cinema's finest.
(available, if you can catch them, here)