The Fox And The Hound

The Fox And The Hound (1981)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Kurt Russell, Mickey Rooney, Pearl Bailey
Extras: Read-along, Trivia Game, Theatrical Trailer

Disney has only been distributing their ’Gold Collection’ titles for a few months now, but they’ve already hit a stumbling block. After the fairly impressive work on ’The Aristocats’, I was very surprised by the overall poor quality of the DVD debut of ’The Fox and The Hound.’

The picture quality on ’The Fox and The Hound’ is some of the worst that I’ve seen for an animated DVD. The picture is very grainy throughout the majority of the film and the colors are washed out. Keep in mind that this film is only nineteen years old, and we’ve seen nice DVDs of films like ’Pinocchio’ and ’The Lady and the Tramp’. The film is presented at a full-frame ratio of 1.33:1, which the packaging claims is the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio. IMBD reports that the original ratio was 1.75:1. I’m not always sure where IMDB gets their info, but I think that I trust them on this one. Whenever there is a close-up of a character, the picture suddenly gets muddy, fuzzy and grainy simultaneously, as if the picture were being squeezed. Also, the digital transfer reveals a great many flaws in the source print. Notice the strange blueish/purple line that is always around Widow Tweed. It’s hard to believe that Disney would release one of their animated films looking this way. In contrast, the Dolby Surround Sound is satisfactory, offering some nice rear channel sound during the chase scenes.

As for the film itself, it has held up over the years. The film tells the story of Tod, a fox and Copper, a hunting dog. The two meet when they are very young and become friends, not realizing that they are supposed to be mortal enemies. As time passes, Copper is trained to be a hunter and begins to have mixed feelings towards Tod. Meanwhile, Tod is exploring his wild side with a female fox named Vixey(!). As the film builds towards a pretty exciting conclusion, the two old friends realize that they must fight nature in order to stay together. The film does drag some in the beginning and the songs are rather annoying, but the central story is very intriguing and from the 45-minute mark on, the film is pretty exciting. The vocal talents of Kurt Russell, Mickey Rooney, Pearl Bailey, and others, help to solidify the film.

The DVD of ’The Fox and The Hound’ offers several bonus features. There is an interactive read-along, where the viewer can read the story to themselves or have it narrated. There is a trivia game, which features questions about the main themes of the film. The DVD includes a theatrical trailer, presented at 1.33:1, but it is from the 1988 re-issue of the film. The DVD also includes a booklet entitled, ’Let’s Be Friends’, which espouses the virtues of friendship. Apparently, every ’Gold Collection’ title is going to has a booklet focusing on some healthy aspect of the film. (I can’t wait to see the booklet that comes with ’Robin Hood’ — ’Hey Kids! Let’s Rob the Rich!’) Overall, ’The Fox and the Hound’ is a disappointing DVD. It’s a good film, that deserves a much better video transfer.