An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

Original theatrical release poster
Directed by Phil Nibbelink
Simon Wells
Produced by Steven Spielberg
Robert Watts
Screenplay by Flint Dille
Story by Charles Swenson
Based on Characters by
David Kirschner
Starring Phillip Glasser
James Stewart
Erica Yohn
Cathy Cavadini
Nehemiah Persoff
Dom DeLuise
Amy Irving
John Cleese
Jon Lovitz
Music by James Horner
Editing by Nick Fletcher
Studio Amblimation
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) November 22, 1991 (1991-11-22)
Running time 74 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $65,435,625
For the video game based on the film with the same name, see An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (video game)

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West is a 1991 American animated film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio and released by Universal Pictures. It is the sequel to An American Tail, and the fourth installment in terms of the series' fictional chronology. It was later followed at the end of the 1990s by another two direct-to-video midquels, both of which took place chronologically before this film. A continuation of this installment, Fievel's American Tails, aired on CBS in 1992.

Don Bluth, the original film's director, had no involvement with this film. Instead, it was directed by Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells. Wells went on to do We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Balto, and The Time Machine, while Phil went on to co-direct We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story and direct his own independent features.

The film follows the story of a family of Jewish-Russian mice who emigrate to the Wild West. In the film, Fievel Mousekewitz is separated from his family as the train approaches the American Old West; the film chronicles Fievel and Sheriff Wylie Burp (voiced by James Stewart in his final film) teaching Tiger how to act like a dog.



Several years after settling in to their new home in The Bronx, New York, the impoverished Mousekewitz family soon finds that conditions are not as ideal as they had hoped, as they find themselves still struggling against the attacks of mouse-hungry felines. Fievel spends his days thinking about the wild west dog-sheriff Wylie Burp, while his sister, Tanya, dreams of becoming a singer. Meanwhile, Tiger's girlfriend Miss Kitty leaves him to find a new life out West, tired of the life of an alley cat, and remarking that perhaps she's looking for a cat that is "more like a dog."

Back in the alleys, a regal feline named Cat R. Waul devises a plan to deliver the mice into his clutches. He first launches a full-scale cat attack to drive all the mice to the sewers, specifically ordering his fellow cats to not eat any of them. Using a mouse-cowpoke marionette, he then entices the neighborhood mice, including the Mousekewitzs, into moving to a better life out west ("Way 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 west-bound train, Fievel wanders into the livestock car, where he overhears the cats revealing their plot to turn them into "mouse burgers." After being discovered, Fievel is thrown from the train by Cat R. Waul's hench-spider, T.R. Chula, landing the mouse in the middle of the desert. The Mousekewitzes are heartbroken once again over the loss of Fievel and arrive at Green River with heavy hearts.

Upon arrival at Green River, the Mousekewitzs begin to find a suitable home, positive that their son Fievel would find them once again. Papa helps his family set up a home under an old water tower, explaining while other mice would scamper for a land to live in, a smart mouse would live closer to water in the dusty country. However, Chula soon blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. Waul approaches the mice and proposes to build a better community where cats and mice can live together in peace. Meanwhile, Fievel is wandering aimlessly through the desert, as is Tiger, who has found his way out west as well, and the two pass each other. However, each one figures that the other is a mirage and they continue on their separate ways. Tiger is captured by mouse Indians and hailed as a god. Fievel is picked up by a hawk and dropped over the mouse Native American village when fireworks scare and explode on the bird, making his feathers pop out of his body and reunites with Tiger. Tiger chooses to stay in while Fievel catches a passing tumbleweed, which takes him to Green River. As soon as Fievel makes his arrival, he quickly reunites with his family. He then tries to expose Cat R. Waul's true intentions. However, the mice inhabitants are already inspired by Cat R. Waul's visions and are convinced that the cats in Green River are good. Inside a saloon that is under construction, Fievel once more learns of the cats' real plan before he is discovered. He confronts Cat R. Waul and is almost eaten in the process. However, he happens to hear Tanya, Fievel's older sister, singing while working and is enchanted by her voice ("Dreams to Dream").

He sends Tanya to Miss Kitty, who's now a saloon-girl cat, and she reveals that she didn't come out west by her own will, but at the request of Cat R. Waul - an action she now seems to regret. Cat R Waul tells Miss Kitty to put Tanya on stage. With a little encouragement from Miss Kitty, Tanya pulls off a great performance for the cats ("The Girl You Left Behind"). Meanwhile, Fievel is chased by Chula and briefly taken prisoner, but escapes. While walking out of town, Fievel stops to talk with an old hound sleeping outside the jail, discovering that the saturnine dog is in fact the legendary Wylie Burp he looked up to back in New York. Fievel convinces Wylie to help the mice's plight. Wylie asks him to find a dog for him to train, but he instead recruits Tiger to be trained as a lawman and as a dog. Tiger is reluctant at first, but relents at the suggestion that a new persona might win back Miss Kitty. After an eventually successful training session to work on Tiger's skills, the trio go back to Green River to fight the cats, who had scheduled to kill the mice at sunset. At Green River, a giant mousetrap has been disguised as bleachers for a ceremony honoring the opening of Cat R. Waul's saloon. But before the trap can be tripped, the three foil the plot using their wits and their slingshots. Tanya and Ms. Kitty soon learn of Cat R. Waul's true intentions and gets the rest of the mice to get off the trap. But towards the end of the fight, Chula captures Ms. Kitty as hostage, threatening to drop her from the tower. Tiger is enraged and unleashes his "inner dog" to save Ms. Kitty and using a pitchfork and Chula's web as a lasso with the spider trapped on it, to hurtle Cat R. Waul and his men out of town by having them all piled on part of the mousetrap, which the heroes use as a catapult. The cats fly into the air, then land into a bag with the words: U.S. Mail written on it. The train picks the bag up and leaves.

Enchanted by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger become reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer (although she also appears to be happy with the way she was before by the end) and the water tower flows with water again, making Green River bloom with flowers. Fievel finds Wylie Burp away from the party who hands Fievel his sheriff badge. Fievel is unsure about taking it, since he feels he is not a traditional hero, but Wylie reminds him that, if it weren't for Fievel, he'd still be a washed up dog. He realizes his journey is still not over, and that "if you ride yonder, head up, eyes steady, heart open, I think one day you'll find that you're the hero you've been looking for".



An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was the first production for Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, a collaboration of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, whose offices were located in London.[1] There, over 250 crew members worked on the project, which began in May 1989.[1] At the time, Amblimation was also developing We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, and a screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats which never saw completion.[1]

Don Bluth, who had partnered with Steven Spielberg on the original American Tail and the first Land Before Time film, was set to direct;[2] owing to creative differences, however, the two of them parted ways.[1] With no Bluth in sight for the sequel, Spielberg instead relied on Phil Nibbelink, a former Disney animator, and Simon Wells, the grandson of science-fiction author H.G. Wells, to direct the project.[1]

The Frankie Laine song "Rawhide" is played at the tumbleweed scene of this film, although the version used is from The Blues Brothers. This sequence was designed and laid-out by an uncredited Alan Friswell, a special effects expert and stop-motion animator who was employed by the studio at the time, and is better-known for his work on the Virgin Interactive Entertainment Mythos computer game, Magic and Mayhem (1998), as well as his many model creations and magazine articles for publications such as Fortean Times, among others.

In addition to a new voice actress, the character of Tanya was heavily redesigned as well. Tiger had minor changes including the "M" was removed from his shirt, as does Yasha (the baby) and Fievel looks slightly different. James Horner returned to write the score to the movie, reusing old themes and introducing new ones.


Fievel Goes West was released in the United States on November 22, 1991 — the same day as Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Beauty was the better-received universally, grossing over $110 million and eventually becoming a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars.

Commercially, West grossed less than its predecessor; it opened in fourth place with $3,435,625 despite being shown on nearly 1,700 theaters[3] and eventually made just over $22 million domestically, and $40 million worldwide, for a total of $65,435,625.[4] By contrast, the original Tail made $47.4 million in the U.S. in 1986, a record at the time for non-Disney animated feature.,[5] and a further $36 million worldwide, for a total of $84 million.


Critical reception was generally mixed. It has a "rotten" rating of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. The staff of Halliwell's Film Guide gave Fievel Goes West two stars out of four, with this comment: "Enjoyable and high-spirited animated film that borrows plot and attitudes from classic Westerns."[6] Roger Ebert gave the film 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."

Sequels and spinoffs

The sequel followed An American Tail and was followed by 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 (which take place before Fievel Goes West). Treasure of Manhattan Island begins with Fievel talking about a dream about moving out west, which suggests a retcon but could be foreshadowing as well.

In an all-too-brief shot during the Cat raid on the mice slums, Tony and Bridget are briefly seen careening into a sewer on a rollerskate with their son. This seems to suggest that Bridget and Tony had married by now and have a child together. Additionally, the two can be seen moving into an abandoned teapot, shortly after the mice arrive in the west. If so, it may be negated by the lack of any such children or the sequels after it.

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 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.

A computer game based on the movie was created in 1994.


The soundtrack was composed by James Horner and includes Dreams to Dream, which was nominated for a Golden Globe award. The song "Dreams to Dream" was based on a short instrumental piece from An American Tail.

The soundtrack quotes many classic western scores, from The Magnificent Seven to Aaron Copland's Rodeo: Hoe Down. It also quotes several fiddle tunes including The 8th Of January.

Track listing

  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"

Score cues left off the soundtrack

  1. Tiger Chases the Train
  2. Mouse Burger Plot
  3. The Flying Aaaaah/Tiger’s Chase Continues
  4. Puttin’ On the Ritz (Movie Version)
  5. Two Old Friends Reunited
  6. Rawhide - The Blues Brothers
  7. Saloon Music
  8. Wylie Burp/More Like a Dog
  9. The Shoot-Out (Movie Version)
  10. The River Returns/Celebration
  11. "Hoe-down" by Aaron Copland

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Beck, Jerry (2005). "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 1-55652-591-5. 
  2. ^ Sabulis, Tom (July 5, 1990). "The toon boom: Animation's big-screen comeback sends artists back to the drawing boards". The Seattle Times. Knight Ridder Newspapers: p. F1. 
  3. ^ Weekend Box Office (November 22-24, 1991). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  4. ^ An American Tail: Fievel Goes West at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2007.
  5. ^ An American Tail at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 26, 2007
  6. ^ Gritten, David, ed (2007). "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (**)". Halliwell's Film Guide 2008. Hammersmith, London: HarperCollins Publishers. p. 37. ISBN 0-00-726080-6. 

External links

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