An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

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An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
American tail fievel goes west.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay byFlint Dille
Story byCharles Swenson
Based on
Starring
Music byJames Horner
Edited byNick Fletcher
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 17, 1991 (1991-11-17) (Kennedy Center)
  • November 22, 1991 (1991-11-22) (United States)
Running time
74 minutes
CountryUnited States
United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$16.5 million[1]
Box office$40.8 million

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (also known as An American Tail II: Fievel Goes West or An American Tail II) is a 1991 British-American animated comedy western film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio and released by Universal Pictures. A sequel to An American Tail (1986), the film follows the story of the Mousekewitzes, a family of Jewish-Ukrainian mice who emigrate to the Wild West. In it, Fievel is separated from his family as the train approaches the American Old West; the film chronicles him and Sheriff Wylie Burp teaching Tiger how to act like a dog. Fievel Goes West was the first production for the short-lived Amblimation, a studio Spielberg set up to keep the animators of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) working.

While the animation medium was transitioning in computers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Spielberg wanted almost all of the animation of Fievel Goes West to be hand-drawn, describing animation as "an arts-and-crafts business." He also want the animation to have a "live-action" feel. While the first film was directed by Don Bluth, direction was handled by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells for the sequel. Phillip Glasser, Dom DeLuise, Nehemiah Persoff, and Erica Yohn reprise their roles from the first film for Fievel Goes West. Tanya's original voice actor, Amy Green, was replaced by Cathy Cavadini, and new characters were voiced by John Cleese, Amy Irving, Jon Lovitz, and James Stewart in his final film role. James Horner returned as a composer and wrote the film's song "Dreams to Dream" which garnered a Golden Globe nomination.

Premiering at the Kennedy Center on November 17, 1991, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West began its American theatrical run on November 22. This was the same day Walt Disney Pictures' Beauty and the Beast (1991) was distributed, making it the first time in history two animated films were released on one date instead of two separate ones. Fievel Goes West was promoted with an incredibly expensive amount of tie-ins and started in the top ten at the box office. Ultimately, however, the film became a box office disappointment, only grossing $22 million domestically. Some film journalists and executives attributed its failure to having to compete with the Disney film. Contemporaneous reviews were also mixed, with criticisms pointed towards the story and extremely-fast pace and praises directed at the high-quality animation and voice acting.

However, Fievel Goes West fared better when it came to home video sales, blasting to the top of the video charts when released on tape in March 1992; at the time, the film held the record for shortest theater-to-home-video transfer. In addition to garnering more home media releases, TV airings, and video game adaptations later on; the film has made numerous 2010s retrospective best-of lists from online publications, especially best Netflix-available Western films. Fievel Goes West was followed by a short-lived CBS series named Fievel's American Tails and two direct-to-video sequels: An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island (1998) and An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster (1999).

Plot[edit]

A few years after immigrating to the United States in 1885, in the year 1890, the impoverished Mousekewitz family discovers that conditions are not as ideal as they had hoped, as they find themselves still struggling against the attacks of mouse-hungry cats. Fievel spends his days thinking about the Wild West sheriff dog Wylie Burp, while his older sister, Tanya, dreams of becoming a singer. Meanwhile, Tiger's girlfriend, Miss Kitty, leaves him to find a new life out west, remarking that perhaps she is looking for "a cat that's more like a dog."

Soon after, Cat R. Waul, a British-accented aristocratic cat, forces the mice into the sewers, including the Mousekewitzes. Using a mouse marionette, Cat R. Waul entices the mice into moving yet again to a better life out west. Tiger chases the train, trying to catch up with his friends, but is thrown off course by a pack of angry dogs. While on the train, Fievel wanders into the livestock car, where he overhears the cats revealing their plot to turn them into "mouse burgers." After being discovered, he is thrown from the train by Cat R.'s hench-spider, T.R. Chula, landing him in the middle of the desert. His family is devastated once again over his loss and arrive in Green River, Utah with heavy hearts, though this time they are hopeful that Fievel will still be alive.

Upon arrival at Green River, Chula blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. approaches the mice and proposes to build a new saloon together, although intending to trick the mice into doing the bulk of the work and then eat them afterwards. Meanwhile, Fievel is wandering aimlessly through the desert, as is Tiger, who has found his way out west as well, and they pass each other. However, they each figure that the other is a mirage and continue on their separate ways. Tiger is captured by mouse Indians and hailed as a god. Fievel is picked up by a hawk, dropped over the Indian mouse village and reunites with Tiger. Tiger chooses to stay in while Fievel catches a passing tumbleweed, which takes him to Green River. As soon as he makes his arrival, he quickly reunites with his family but is unable to convince them of Cat R.'s plans to kill them. However, Cat R. hears Tanya singing and is enchanted by her voice.

He sends Tanya to Miss Kitty, who is now a saloon-girl cat, and she reveals that she came at Cat R.'s request. He tells Miss Kitty to put her on stage. With a little encouragement from Miss Kitty, she pulls off a performance for the cats. Meanwhile, Fievel is chased by Chula and briefly taken prisoner, but flees.

While walking out of town, Fievel stops to talk with an elderly bloodhound sleeping outside the jail, discovering that he is actually Wylie Burp. Fievel convinces him to help and train Tiger as a lawman and a dog. Tiger is reluctant at first, but relents at the suggestion that a new persona might win back Miss Kitty. They go back to Green River to fight the cats, who attempt to kill the mice at sunset during the opening of Cat R.'s saloon using a giant mouse trap. Tiger, Wylie and Fievel intervene and fight the cats. When Chula threatens to kill Miss Kitty, Tiger rescues her and uses a pitchfork and Chula's web as a lasso with him trapped on it to hurtle Cat R. and his underlings out of town by having them piled on part of the trap, which the heroes use as a catapult. The cats fly into the air and land into a mailbag, which a passing train picks up and leaves.

Enamored by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger are reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer and the tower flows with water again, making Green River bloom with flowers. Fievel finds Wylie away from the party, who hands him his sheriff badge. Fievel is unsure about taking it, but realizes that his journey is not over.

Cast[edit]

Development[edit]

Don Bluth (left), who directed the original American Tail, was replaced by directors such as Phil Nibbelink (right) for Fievel Goes West.

A sequel to Steven Spielberg's An American Tail (1986) under the working title An American Tail II was put into pre-production by David Kirschner in April 1988 after he finished directing Child's Play (1988); when announcing the project that same month, he summarized that Fievel will "fight the cat-tle barons. It's like a John Ford western with Jewish mice."[2] Kirschner started pre-production as Spielberg was setting up filming for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) in Europe.[2] He wasn't involved in the production and post-production, and admitted in 1993 that he disliked Fievel Goes West as "entertainment without character."[3] The screenplay was written by Flint Dille, who was led to the position by writing for Spielberg's Tiny Toon Adventures (1990–92).[4]

Spielberg produced the live-action animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), which was the top grossing motion picture of 1988.[5] As a way to keep the movie's animators working,[5] Spielberg formed Amblimation, a collaboration of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, whose offices were located in London.[6] Fievel Goes West was its first production, and over 250 crew members from 15 different nations[5] worked on the project starting May 1989.[6] At the time, Amblimation was also developing We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Balto, and a screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats which never saw completion.[6] In December 1988, Universal announced that they would release an animated film every eighteen months and begin production on An American Tail II in early 1989.[7]

Don Bluth, who had partnered with Steven Spielberg on both the original film and The Land Before Time, was set to direct and have Sullivan Bluth Studios provide the animation;[8] owing to creative differences, however, they parted ways.[6] As Bluth explained, "the business deal wasn't such that it helped our company."[9] With no Bluth in sight for the sequel, Spielberg instead relied on Phil Nibbelink, a former Disney animator, and Simon Wells, the great-grandson of science-fiction author H. G. Wells, to direct the project.[6] Bluth stated in April 1992 that he regretted his decision, admitting that he disliked the final product of Fievel Goes West and "maybe we could've helped that film a little more."[9]

Cleese was paid his lowest fee in ten years for Fievel Goes West.

With Cleese as the first choice for Cat R. Waul,[5] he was approached in 1989 by one of the film's producers at what Cleese vaguely called "the Italian Oscars."[10] He accepted the offer based on his enjoyment of the first American Tail and "I love sound studios anyway – there’s none of the hassle and boredom and time wasting you get in television."[10] Cleese was paid his lowest fee in ten years for the role, however, which made him very unwilling to publicize his involvement with Fievel Goes West.[10] According to Cavadini, there was another woman initially planned to voice Tanya but left the project, so Cavadini replaced her.[11] Spielberg met Stewart at a party asking him to voice the film, and all of Stewart's lines were recorded in ten days; his last involvement in a Western was in The Shootist (1976).[12]

Production[edit]

"Computers are on their way, but so far, we have religiously stayed away from them. This is still an arts-and-crafts business, and we have taken the old approach – the personal rapport that happens between an artist and a piece of paper."
—Spielberg in a 1991 Los Angeles presentation of Fievel Goes West's production process.[13]

Spielberg is entertaining animators in a whirlwind round of cocktail parties and offering huge fees for signing up with him. He has told friends that [Fievel Goes West] will eclipse all his previous massive successes.

— Daily Express, May 3, 1990[14]

Bluth's removal from the project resulted in Fievel Goes West to be absent of the Disney-isms of the first film's animation for a faster pace and more elements of Warner Bros. cartoons, which the animator previously succeeded in using for Who Framed Roger Rabbit.[5] Spielberg instructed his animators to take on a "live-action" method to animating the film.[5] As Spielberg explained, "The characters are affected more by their surroundings -- by the lighting and the sunsets. It's stylized without being arty. It has a rich, deep style."[5] Production manager Cynthia Woodbyrne explained that "he wanted us to keep the camera moving all the time," a technique imposed in cuts such as the film's sewer ride sequence and a 360-degree pan shot of the film's desert vista.[5] These types of crane and dolly shots, replicating certain shots in Spielberg's Jaws (1975) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), were groundbreaking for the time.[15]

Apart from one computer-generated pick-up shot of the valley's ground, all of the film was hand-drawn animated; and the process was so intensive that it took at least one week to complete a minute of animation, around sixty artists to paint approximately 230,000 cels,[16] and a week for a single animator to finish three seconds of animation.[13] As Fievel Goes West was a parody of Western films, the animators heavily studied the works of John Ford and Sergio Leone.[5]

The voices were tracked at Interlock Studio in Hollywood, ten takes for each actor at varying speeds and phrasing.[12] The voice actors were videotaped recording the lines, and the animators used the footage for how the characters would move in the film. According to Nibbelink, "Much of the improvisation and gags in the film comes from the tape, about 50 percent."[16] The biggest focus was on Cat R. Waul, as the directors focused on making it "feel as if the character is John Cleese rather than a cat with John Cleese's voice."[5] Nancy Beiman originally worked as a regular animator on Fievel Goes West, but became a supervisor on the project six months after she entered Amblimation.[17] While not assigned to supervise Miss Kitty's animation, she asked for the position and got it.[17] She enjoying working on Kitty for Irving's Mae West-esque delivery and the "scatterbrained dialogue" giving her "a lot of freedom in [the character's] choreography."[17]

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was Steve Hickner's first time as an associate producer, a position that forced him to be more sociable than he usually was; he later took his experience on the film as valuable, as it taught him the lesson of "acting [giving him] way to actual behavior."[18]

Release and promotion[edit]

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts before its nationwide theatrical release.

Fievel Goes West was initially planned for a fall 1990 release, but it was delayed to a late 1991 date.[19] In 1989, the date was moved again to Christmas 1992[20] before reverting back to Christmas 1991 in May 1990, when the subtitle Fievel Goes West and a follow-up television series was also first announced.[21] It was moved to the fall of 1991 in November 1990.[22] It made its worldwide premiere at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on November 17, 1991, where 275 inner-city kids that were guests of Fannie Mae's company attended the event; the children also made their own American Tail storybook and posed with a costume version of Fievel for pictures. Notable adult attendees includes Chuck Robb, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Al Gore, Marvin Bush, Margaret Bush, Fred Grandy, Elliot Richardson, and Robert Haft.[23]

Both Fievel Goes West and Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) began their United States theater runs on November 22, 1991; this was the first-ever instance of two animated films being released on the same day, "a testimony to the revival of interest in feature-length animation" according to the Boston Herald.[24] Along with competing with an unusual number of family films with middling budgets such as The Addams Family, Curly Sue , My Girl, and Spielberg's Hook;[25][26][27] both Beauty and the Beast and Fievel Goes West were promoted with, as of the films' release date, the most expensive set of film tie-ins ever.[28]

40 brands licensed with Universal to promote the film,[29] including the non-profit Reading Is Fundamental, which used the character of Fievel as a mascot for Reading Buddies kits; and Pizza Hut, which used characters from the film on designs their Pizza Packs and soft-drink cups, a decision influenced by their previous tie-in success with the Disney summer film The Rocketeer (1991).[28] Upon the film's release, Universal Studios Tour opened the attraction Mouse Trap, a 2,500-seat interactive version of Fievel Goes West.[30][31] In the summer of 1992, Universal Studios Florida opened American Tail: Fievel's Playland, a playground featuring set recreations of An American Tail and Fievel Goes West.[32] Boxtress also released a illustrated book version of the film written by Cathy East Dubowski and Beverly Lazor-Bahr.[33]

Initial reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Maybe we put too much faith in a sequel when our audience had grown out of [An American Later] six years later.

— A Universal executive when interview by The New York Times, 1991[34]

Amblin Entertainment previously competed with Disney twice: in 1986 when the first American Tail competed with a reissue of Lady and the Tramp (1955), and in 1988 when it released The Land Before Time (1988) around the same time as Oliver & Company (1988). Amblin won both races;[35][36] "We’ve proven in the past that there’s room for two animated features," said Universal distribution president Fred Mound.[36] Tom Pollock, a Universal chairman, also had faith Fievel Goes West would perform well.[15] Spielberg and Disney's Dick Cook suggested both films would be hits, although Spielberg predicted Beauty and the Beast to make more profits due to having more of an adult appeal than Fievel Goes West.[37] Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg stated in regards to the competition, "We've competed with Amblin before and learned that there's enough room for both. These movies aren't mutually exclusive. There's a big market out there. The success of one doesn't depend on the failure of the other.[35]

Opening to 1,400 theaters in the United States,[28] Fievel Goes West has, as of November 30, 2019, the 110th widest G-rated release of all time[38] and the 96th widest G-rated film opening in the United States.[39] It also has the 124th all-time biggest opening weekend for a G-rated film,[40] opening in fourth place with $3,435,625;[41] and has 60th smallest weekend drop for a film in 600-plus theaters thanks to its second week grossing $3,782,080.[42] However, it also holds the record of the 119th post-thanksgiving weekend drops.[43] Fievel Goes West eventually made just over $22 million domestically, and $18 million overseas, for a total of $40,766,041;[44] making it the 15th highest-grossing film of 1991 in the United States[45] and the 37th highest grosser of the year worldwide.[46] As of December 1, 2019, it is the 141st highest domestic-grossing G-rated film of all time[47] and 123rd worldwide.[48] By contrast, the original film made $47.4 million in the U.S. in 1986, a record at the time for a non-Disney animated one, and a further $36 million overseas, for a total of $84 million.[49]

According to The Washington Post, Fievel Goes West tied with For the Boys (1991) for "the dubious if unofficial distinction of the fastest failure of a big-budget holiday movie."[50] Some journalists and film executives attributed the film's weak box office to the intense competition it faced with Beauty and the Beast.[50][51][27][52] However, it wasn't competing with the Disney production in Canada, and it failed there too according to a Universal executive, who also blamed Spielberg's lack of involvement in the marketing due to being too busy on Hook.[34] Another official of the company explained that he had little faith in the project, describing it as "charmless" and its animation "pedestrian."[34] Other writers blamed it on the content. Dennis Hunt suggested "the complex story line and the scary villians didn't quite click with the kiddies,"[53] and Bernard Weinraub wrote that "even children were not especially interested in an old-fashioned animated movie."[34] Steven Hulett of the union Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists opined that the low performances of both Fievel Goes West and We're Back!: A Dinosaur Story (1993) resulted from the poor quality of their stories, "and animation is a story-driven art form." He attributed this to Spielberg's busy schedule, meaning he didn't have enough time to focus on animation.[54]

Reviews[edit]

Numerous subplots send the characters off in unlikely directions while the main plot thread is left undeveloped. Tiger is captured by American Indian mice who declare him their god, and Tanya suddenly finds herself pursuing a dance-hall career. Meanwhile, Fievel, Cat R. Waul and the central story languish. It's an indication of the general confusion that there isn't a single major horse character in this animated western.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West holds a 54% critical percentage on Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews.[56] Peter M. Nichols analyzed Fievel Goes West "was panned on the ground that it was not so innovative as other new animated films, notably Beauty and the Beast from Disney, the leader in animation."[27] Multiple reviewers condemned Fievel Goes West's lack of a cohesive story[57][58][59][60][61] and extremely fast pace.[62][59] As critics summarized, the film "has constant activity but minimal objectives;"[58] "has little narrative drive or emotional resonance," its climax feeling "perfunctory and tacked on;"[63] and has "so many subplots and digressions" that "they simply failed to develop the central narrative."[64] Some reviewers were also uncomforted by the Indian mice tribe as being racially insensitive.[65][59] Empire opined that, despite its enjoyable comedic relief characters and "fantastic chase scenes," Fievel Goes West suffered from being "fairly predictable."[66] However, one reviewer appreciated the bits of "sophisticated humor" and Holocaust undertones in the script,[62] and another highlighted its gag, such as the scene of Tiger being taken captive by the Indian mice.[67] Some critics called the songs weaker and not as memorable as those of the first film,[68][58][62][64][61][55] although the Blues Brothers' version of the song "Rawhide" was spotlighted by some writers[64][67][55] and "The Girl You Left Behind" by a People magazine review.[69]

Time Out London published an ecstatic review of Fievel Goes West: "Miles better than the overrated American Tail, this laugh-packed sequel boasts all the classic elements so often missing from modern cartoon features: a straightforward zip-zang-boom storyline, clearly etched characters with instantly identifiable flaws, tip-top voice-overs by well-chosen celebrities, and oodles of elasticated slapstick."[70] Unlike other critics, Cortney Thekan appreciated the huge amount of subplots: "I mean, we all know the attention span of a 4-year-old. Full-length cartoons need the subplots to hold children's attention."[71] The Washington Post praised it for being "quick, vivid and a real hoot to viewers of any age," but also noted its wonky setup: "the family is tricked into a cross-country quest by a fast-talking fake mouse [...] Not only are the marionette's strings fully visible during Cat R. Waul's spiel, but the cat can be seen through a sewer grate. Stupid mice!"[72] Halliwell's Film Guide labeled Fievel Goes West as an "enjoyable and high-spirited animated film that borrows plot and attitudes from classic Westerns."[73] Roger Ebert gave it two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "There is nothing really the matter with An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, except that it is not inspired with an extra spark of imagination in addition to its competent entertainment qualities".[74]

Most critics found the animation high-quality in general.[64][67][59][63][68][62] The Chicago Tribune's Clifford Terry applauded the "vivid and rich" animation, particularly the "colorful figures and detailed backgrounds."[62] Solomon highlighted its "tricky point-of-view shots, such as inside a rolling tumbleweed," and the changes to most of the character designs;[59] while Brenna Kield of the Sun-Sentinel highlighted the realism in the scenery and character movements.[67] Roger Hurlburt called its animation "bright and sassy, "colorful backdrops" and "eye-filling uses of exciting angles."[75] However, the animation wasn't completely devoid of noted perks in reviews. Solomon criticized the little amount of "nuances of thought and emotion" in the characters;[59] The New York Times summarized the movie's take on the West as "surprisingly dull;"[63] Kield felt that some scenes, especially those that take place in the West, could've been a bit lighter;[67] and The Austin Chronicle opined that "the foregrounds are expressive but the backgrounds are bland and uninspired."[58] The Radio Times enjoyed the animation the least, "the animation could easily have been done in the 1940s, such is its flat traditionalism."[61] While Terry found most of the characters unmemorable,[62] he and other reviewers praised the presence of Wylie Burp.[65][62][60][57] While most reviews applauded the voice cast,[61][57][69][67][64][75][55] a Hartford Courant review was more divided towards it, appreciating Irving and Stewart's performances but finding DeLouise and his character irritating and Cleese "wasted" on the film.[60] Empire also named Waul "one of the least dastardly animated villains ever, even with the slithering vocal talents of John Cleese."[66]

Entertainment Weekly named it one of the best children's films of 1991 alongside Beauty and the Beast and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991);[76] and The Seattle Times honored it as one of 1991's "Best arguments for sequels" alongside Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, and The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.[77] In a 1993 newspaper feature about portrayals of females in animated films, journalist Ann Doss Helms disliked how most animated women had no other characters of the same gender to motivate or guide them; the writer criticized how little attention Tanya's parents gave to her aspirations, but praised the advice Miss Kitty gave to the mouse, suggesting "there's hope that things are changing."[78]

Later years[edit]

In the late 2010s, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was recognized on publication lists of best Netflix-available westerns,[79] ranking in the top ten of lists by Paste[80] and The Daily Dot.[81] It was also number 24 on GameSpot's "25 Best '90s Movies On Netflix,"[82] appeared on Wonderwall's list of best animated sequels,[83] and landed on a Cosmopolitan list of "50 Movies You Definitely Watched in the ’90s and Forgot About."[84] Including it on a list of "19 Classic Movies That Prove 1991 Was Truly The Best Year For Film," Bustle described the film as "a fun, action-adventure comedy that gave Fievel's sister Tanya some much-needed screen time."[85] Both Fievel Goes West and the first American Tail were tied for the number-five spot of a list of best non-Disney films from My Web Times: "Political and historical, these feature some fab songs and fun voice-over work from the likes of Jimmy Stewart (in his last role), John Cleese, Madeline Kahn and Dom DeLuise."[86] In her book Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films (Jewish Lives), Molly Haskell wrote that both An American Tail and its sequel Fievel Goes West were oddly more "personal" for Spielberg than Schindler's List (1993), "the film that certified the director’s rebirth as a Jew, and his much-vaunted evolution into a newfound 'maturity.'"[87]

In a 2017 /Film feature about Amblimation, Dalin Rowell highlighted the "cinematic" scale of its animation and opined that it "should be remembered for is its creativity and its willingness to be a bit more bold and daring than its predecessor."[88] A 2016 review from Greg Jameson of Entertainment Focus opined it "has less universal appeal than the original, because the themes aren’t as rooted in human experience so it packs less of an emotional punch." However, he nonetheless called it a fun film and praised its animation and voice acting.[89]

The Jimmy Stewart Museum, a museum dedicated to Stewart, has presented Fievel Goes West four times: on September 6, 2015,[90] January 9, 2016,[91] March 11, 2017,[92] and July 8, 2017.[93] On April 28, 2018, Fievel Goes West was screened at the Autry Museum of the American West, a Los Angeles museum of the history of the American West.[94]

Comedy television series such as 30 Rock,[95] Brooklyn Nine-Nine,[96] and Rick and Morty have referenced Fievel Goes West.[97]

Home media[edit]

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West received its first VHS and cassette release on March 19, 1992.[27][98] Nichols and Tower Video's John Thrasher predicted it would do well in sales due to a lack of competition. According to Nichols, three million copies were rumored to be circulated, although MCA/Universal was willing to reveal the real number.[27] Upon its 1992 VHS release, Fievel Goest West held the record for shortest theater-to-home-video transfer, previously held in a tie by Batman (1989) and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991).[50] The video for Fievel Goes West topped the video charts the week it was issued,[99] and even when it was dethroned by a reissue of One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), it remained at the number-two spot of the Top Kid Video chart for several weeks.[100][101] On April 10, 1992, the U.S. Postal Service began selling envelopes with 29-cent Western-Americana-themed stamps designed by Harry Zelenko to promote the home video of Fievel Goes West; 19 of them were reissued on May 1 using recycled paper.[102] The release was pulled from the shelves in January 1993.[99]

Beginning November 18, 1994, McDonald's, in a deal with MCA/Universal, offered customers a video of Jurassic Park (1993) at a $2.50 if they also purchased one of the following tapes for six dollars: Fievel Goes West, The Land Before Time (1988), Back to the Future (1985), and Field of Dreams (1989).[103] Fievel Goes West garnered its first American television airing on April 13, 1997 via a Disney Channel "Tune In to Kids and Family Week" promotion of another TV debut, Pocahontas (1995).[104] On August 11, 1998, as part of Universal Studios Home Video's highly-family-demanded $15-million campaign to relaunch the American Tail franchise after a six-year moratorium; digitally-restored versions of An American Tail and Fievel Goes West were released on VHS on a 2-tape release.[105] On the issue of October 3, 1998, the set debuted at number 19 on Billboard's Top Kid Video chart.[106]

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was released on Video CD in Hong Kong on July 20, 2001,[107] on DVD in the United States on September 25, 2003,[108] Spain on September 29, 2005,[109] and Denmark on November 15, 2011.[110] In the United Kingdom, it first appeared on December 6, 2006 on DVD as part of a Slim 2 box set that featured the first two American Tail films.[111] Similar two-film DVD collections were released in Spain on June 22, 2009[112] and the United States on August 22, 2010.[113] On June 13, 2017, it was part of a DVD collection that included all four movies in the franchise.[114] Fievel Goes West was issued to Blu-ray on April 4, 2017 in the United States,[115] July 4 in Canada,[116] and September 25 in the United Kingdom.[117] Unlike the previous home media releases, the film has a sequence edited, like the infamous hidden penis doodle that was briefly seen during Tanya's version of "Dreams to Dream" was removed, thanks to the controversy[118]. On online platforms, the film was released to Amazon Prime on November 11, 2013,[119] Netflix on April 1, 2017,[120] and Movies Anywhere on October 12, 2017.[121]

Sequels and spinoffs[edit]

Between January to February 1992, Marvel Comics ran a three-issue series based on Fievel Goes West, written by D.G. Chichester with art by George Wildman.[122]

On September 11, 1992 the TV series Fievel's American Tails premiered on CBS; it is a follow-up of Fievel Goes West and features actors such as Glasser and DeLuise reprising their roles.[123]

Two direct-to-video sequels were produced after the series: An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, released in 1998, and An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster, released in 1999. A piece of dialogue from Fieval in the former had once been made to retcon Fieval Goes West as a dream the character had, but many would go on to mainly see both direct-to-video films as prequels that take place before the adventure.

Fievel later served as the mascot for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, appearing in its production logo. There is also a Fievel-themed playground at Universal Studios Florida, featuring a large water slide and many oversized objects such as books, glasses, cowboy boots, and more. It is the only such playground at any of NBC Universal's theme parks.

An LCD game based on the film was created by Tiger Electronics in 1991.

A computer game based on the film was created in 1993.

A Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game of the same name was released in 1994; it was heavily praised by video game critics for its presentation, although its simple gameplay garnered divided opinions.[124][125][126][127] A Game Boy Advance video game based on the film called An American Tail: Fievel's Gold Rush was released by Conspiracy Entertainment in January 2002[128] to mixed reviews.[129][130]

Soundtrack[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[131]
Entertainment WeeklyA-[132]
Film Tracks4/5 stars[133]

The soundtrack was composed by James Horner and includes "Dreams to Dream", which was nominated for a Golden Globe award[134] and a contender by the Academy Award voters for a Best Original Song nomination,[135] although didn't receive one. An Entertainment Weekly review compared the score to the soundtracks of Gunsmoke and Oklahoma! (1955) as well as the works of Aaron Copland.[132]

On July 19, 1991, the Los Angeles Daily News announced Anita Baker would sing "Dreams to Dream,"[136] but this didn't happen. Although Linda Ronstadt originally sang the song, she rejected allowing her voice on it after recording finished; Celine Dion was replaced, and she recorded her vocals while working on her second English-language album. However, Ronstadt then asked for her vocals to be on the track, and the executives thought Dion didn't have enough star power. While this resulted in the re-insertion of Ronstadt's voice, Horner's experience with recording the song with Dion led her to singing on a later Horner-composed song, "My Heart Will Go On."[137][138] In the United States, Ronstadt's version of "Dreams to Dream" reached number 13 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart[139] and number eight on Cashbox's Looking Ahead chart.[140] It also reached 69 on RPM's Canadian singles charts[141] and 18 on the magazine's Adult Contemporary chart.[142]

The film also features an arrangement of "Rawhide" in its score.[64][67]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Dreams to Dream (Finale Version)" – Linda Ronstadt
  2. "American Tail Overture (Main Title)"
  3. "Cat Rumble"
  4. "Headin' Out West"
  5. "Way Out West"
  6. "Green River/Trek Through the Desert"
  7. "Dreams to Dream (Tanya's Version)" – Cathy Cavadini
  8. "Building a New Town"
  9. "Sacred Mountain"
  10. "Reminiscing"
  11. "The Girl You Left Behind" – Cathy Cavadini
  12. "In Training"*
  13. "The Shoot-Out"
  14. "A New Land/The Future"

(*a close parody of Aaron Copland's "Hoe-Down" theme, adapting the film's leitmotifs)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]