Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Just before we get started...


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:
Amos Slade says "And next time I won't miss!" (above) and the picture fades out to black. It's not 100% ideal, but inserting the second film here does hold together. In fact, some of the first film actually makes more sense after it.
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 saw the first movie at the cinema upon its release in early 1982 (or possibly late '81), when I was ten. Until this week I could recall next to nothing about that hour and a half, but the evidence of the effect that it had on me has remained more solid, thanks to the associated Figurine Panini sticker album that I collected.
I now discover that out of a possible 360 stickers, I managed to collect a whopping 283 of them! I know I never sent off for any of those, nor really had friends to swap with, so I must have spent quite a bit of time on this film after seeing it. I can also remember remembering who all the different characters were as I used to sit looking through the big cast montage on the back cover:
But since then? Nothing. Never found it on TV, or looked it up on the net, nor even come across a still from it anywhere. For me, The Fox And The Hound has remained a movie that only existed when I was a child.

I had not even a memory. So what happened in it? What???
So this year for my birthday I asked for the 25th anniversary DVD box of it. This also includes the 2006 follow-up The Fox And The Hound 2, which as mentioned above is not a sequel, but a midquel. (it's set in the middle of the first film) Hmm, all of a sudden this didn't sound like a movie that would have ended all that comfortably…

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...
Throughout this film, Disney milk the cute animals' expressions for all they're worth, which combined with the huge tragedies that they suffer, packs a real punch. It's also an enormous credit to the creators that they handle the creatures' segues from extended mute sequences to talking so well. The vocal performers here have total conviction. Then when Amos and Copper have their big stand off at the end, the soundtrack is almost silent, and as such it's the heaviest audio they could possibly have put there.

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)


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