An American Tail is a 1986 animated film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, and directed by Don Bluth, originally released in movie theatres on November 21, 1986. It was the first feature-length animated film produced by Universal Pictures. It's the first Animated film to win all Eleven Academy Awards including Best Picture, the first Traditionally Animated Film to win this Catergory.
In 1885 Shostka, Russia, the Mousekewitzes— a Russian-Jewish family of mice —decide to immigrate to America after an army of cruel cats that belong to the Cossacks destroy their village, believing there to be no cats in the New World. During the trip overseas, the family's young son, Fievel, gets separated from the others and washes overboard in a storm. They arrive sadly in America, believing they've lost their son.
Fievel, however, floats to America in a bottle, and after a pep talk from a French pigeon named Henri, embarks on a quest to find his family. He is waylaid by conman Warren T. Rat, who gains his trust and then sells him to a sweatshop. He escapes with Tony, a street-smart Italian mouse, and they join up with Bridget, an Irish mouse trying to rouse her fellow mice to stand up to cats. When a gang of some called the Mott Street Maulers attacks a mouse marketplace, the immigrant mice learn that the tales of a no-cat country is not true.
Bridget takes Fievel and Tony to see Honest John, a drunk (but reliable) politician who knows all the voting mice in New York City. But as the Mousekewitzes have not yet registered to vote, he can't help Fievel find them. Meanwhile, his sister, Tanya, tells her gloomy parents she has a feeling that he is still alive, but they urged her that the feeling would soon go away.
Led by the rich and powerful Gussie Mausheimer, the mice hold a rally to decide what to do about the cats. Warren T. Rat is extorting them all for protection that he never provides. No one has any idea what to do about it, until Fievel whispers a plan to Gussie.
The mice take over an abandoned building on Chelsea Pier and begin constructing their plan. On the day of launch, Fievel gets lost and stumbles upon Warren T.'s lair. He discovers that he is actually a cat in disguise and the leader of the Maulers. They capture Fievel, but a goofy, soft-hearted orange cat named Tiger takes a liking to him and sets him free.
Fievel races back to the pier with the cats in hot pursuit when Gussie orders the mice to release the secret weapon. A huge mechanical mouse, inspired by the bedtime tales Papa told to Fievel of the "Giant Mouse of Minsk", chases the cats down the pier and into the water. A tramp steamer bound for Hong Kong picks them up and carries them away.
During the battle, Fievel is once again separated from those he loves and falls into despair when a group of orphans tell him that he should have given up a long time ago. Papa Mouskewitz overhears Bridget and Tony calling out to Fievel, but is sure that there may be another "Fievel" somewhere, until he sees Mama picking up his son's hat. They team up for a final effort to find him, and in the end, Papa's violin playing leads Fievel back into the arms of his family. The journey ends with Henri taking everyone to see his newly completed project—the Statue of Liberty, and the Mouskewitzes' new life in America begins.
- Phillip Glasser as Fievel Mousekewitz, the protagonist of the film.
- Amy Green as Tanya Mousekewitz (singing voice provided by Betsy Cathcart), Fievel's older sister. Optimistic, cheerful and obedient, she continued to believe that her brother was alive after he was washed off the ship en route to America. She was given an American name 'Tillie' at the immigration point at Castle Garden on Ellis Island.
- John P. Finnegan as Warren T. Rat, the main antagonist of the film's story. He is really a cat disguised as a rat and the leader of the Mott Street Maulers, a gang of cats who terrorize the mice of New York City. He is accompanied nearly all the time by his accountant Digit, a small British-accented cockroach. His name may be a play on words of the word "warranty".
- Nehemiah Persoff as Papa Mousekewitz, the head of the Mousekewitz family who plays the violin and tells stories to his children. Too overcome with grief and believing his son to be dead after being separated, he stubbornly refuses to search for him after they land in America.
- Erica Yohn as Mama Mousekewitz, Fievel's mother. She appears to be the stricter of the two Mousekewitz parents and has a fear of flying.
- Pat Musick as Tony Toponi, a streetwise young mouse of Italian descent and with a 'tough New Yorker' attitude. He meets Fievel during their slavery at the sweatshop. He takes a liking to him, and gives him an American name: "Philly" (Philip). After they escape the sweatshop, he becomes Fievel's friend and guide to the town.
- Dom DeLuise as Tiger, a very large, cowardly, long-haired orange cat who also happens to be vegetarian. He was a member of Warren T. Rat's 'Mott Street Maulers' cat gang until he met and befriended Fievel, whom he helped to escape.
- Christopher Plummer as Henri, a pigeon of French descent, who is in New York City while building the Statue of Liberty. He is the first to meet Fievel upon entering America. He nurses him back to health, and tells him that he should never give up in his search for his family (via the song "Never Say Never"), a message which he takes to heart.
- Paul Goddard as Ludwig Snozzwanger, a British
- Cathianne Blore as Bridget, an Irish activist and Tony's girlfriend.
- Neil Ross as Honest John, a local Irish-born mouse politician who knows every voting mouse in New York City. An ambulance-chasing drunkard who takes advantage of voters' concerns to increase his political prestige, he is a stereotype of the 19th-century Tammany Hall politicians.
- Madeline Kahn as Gussie Mausheimer, a German-born considered to be the richest in New York City, who rallies the mice into fighting back against the cats.
- Will Ryan as Digit, Warren T.'s British cockroach accountant who has a fondness for counting money, but is plagued by frequent electrical charges in his antennae whenever he gets nervous or excited.
- Hal Smith as Moe, a fat rat who runs the sweatshop Fievel is sold to by Warren T.
While all of the animal characters were animated from scratch, the human characters were animated using the rotoscoping technique, in which sequences were shot in live action and then traced onto animation cels. This provides a realistic look for human characters, and distinguishes the cartoonish animal characters from the more realistically animated humans. Rotoscoping is frequently employed in Don Bluth films, including The Secret of NIMH and Anastasia.
The musical score for the film was composed by James Horner, with Songs written and composed by Horner, The song "Somewhere Out There", composed and written by James Horner, won a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. One scene incorporates the John Phillip Sousa march Stars and Stripes Forever.
Theatrical At the time of its release, An American Tail became the highest grossing non-Disney produced animated feature, drawing over $47 million USD.
The film was released on VHS in the same year by CIC Video, with a Spanish dubbed version separately released on VHS as Un cuento americano (An American Tale, dropping the pun inherent in the English title), and is now available on a DVD that contains the main English track, as well as dubbing for French and Spanish.
An American Tail was a box office success, the first among Universal's animated releases to do so. The film has grossed up to $47 million in the United States and $84 million worldwide.
The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide gave it four star out of four. "[The] expensive and unforgettable cartoon feature," they wrote, "[has] in the way of narrative interest and indeed warm humor." Siskel and Ebert gave the Film "Two Thumbs Up".
An American Tail won numorous Awards including Annies, Emmys and many others. It also won all 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Original Musical and Best Original Score.
Sequels and spinoffs
The film was followed by its theatrical sequel An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991), the television series Fievel's American Tails, and two direct-to-video sequels: An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island and An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster, both of which Don Bluth had any involvement with.
Fievel later served as the mascot for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, appearing in its production logo. Also, as reported on the official An American Tail website, Fievel has become the mascot for UNICEF as well. There is also a Fievel-themed playground at Universal Studios Florida, featuring a large water slide and many over-sized objects such as books, glasses, cowboy boots, and more. It is the only such playground at any of NBC Universal's theme parks.
Narrator: This Holiday Season, Universal Pictures presents a very special Motion Picture experience. The first Animated Feature Film presented by Steven Spielberg, An American Tail. The Musical Story about one's Family Journey to America and their Son Fievel who got lost along the way.
Papa: Fievel. Fievel.
Fievel: I'm coming Papa!
Narrator: An American Tail, a Don Bluth Film. Coming this Thanksgiving to Theaters everywhere.
Script for Theatrical Trailer
Script for TV Trailer 1
Gussie Mousheimer: Rewease the secwet weapon!
Narrator: The Thrills. The Laughter. The Fun. The Excitement. The Adventure. The Music. Steven Spielberg presents, a Don Bluth film
Tony Taponi: Stick with me okay?
Narrator: An American Tail, rated G. Starts friday in select Theaters.
Script fo TV Trailer 2
Narrator: Universal Studios presents the Story of Fievel, lost in a World of Strangers.