An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

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An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
File:American tail fievel goes west.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by Flint Dille
Story by Charles Swenson
Based on Characters 
by David Kirschner
Music by James Horner
Edited by Nick Fletcher
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • November 22, 1991 (1991-11-22)
Running time
74 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $40,766,041

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (also known as An American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West & An American Tail 2) is a 1991 American animated western film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio and released by Universal Pictures. It is the sequel to An American Tail, and the last installment in the series to be released theatrically.

It is the fourth installment in terms of the series' fictional chronology.

It was followed at the end of the 1990s by two direct-to-video followups, both of which took place chronologically before this film (although people question if it was real, or afterward if it was just a dream). 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 Nibbelink 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 (again) 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. The film performed modestly at the box office grossing $40 million and received mixed reviews from critics.


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, remarking that perhaps she's looking for "a cat that's more like a dog."

Soon after, another gang of cats attacks and drives the mice into the sewers, including Fievel's family. The raid is actually orchestrated by Cat R. Waul, who tires of chasing mice and devises a plan to deliver the mice into his clutches. Using a mouse-cowpoke marionette, he entices the neighborhood mice in the sewers, including the Mousekewitzs into moving yet again 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, Chula blocks up the water tower, drying up the river. Cat R. Waul 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 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 Indian village when fireworks scare 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 is unable to convince the others of Cat R. Waul's plans to kill the mice. However, Cat R. Waul 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 is now a saloon-girl cat, and she reveals that she came at the request of Cat R. Waul. 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. Fievel convinces Wylie to help and to train Tiger 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. 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 and battle the cats using their wits and their slingshots. But towards the end Chula captures Ms. Kitty as hostage, threatening to drop her from the tower. Tiger snaps and saves Ms. Kitty and using a pitchfork and Chula's web as a lasso with him trapped on it to hurtle Cat R. Waul and his men out of town by having them piled on part of the mousetrap, which the heroes use as a catapult. The cats fly into the air, then land into a mailbag. The train picks the bag up and leaves.

Enchanted by his new personality, Miss Kitty and Tiger become reunited. Tanya becomes a famous singer and the water tower flows with 9000 gallons of water again, making Green River bloom with thousands of 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. However, Wylie reminds him that, if Fievel did not meet him, he would still be a washed up dog. Realizing that his journey is still not over, Fievel is told, "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, Balto, and a screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats which never saw completion.[1]

Phil Nibbelink directed An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Don Bluth, who had partnered with Steven Spielberg on both the original American Tail film and The Land Before Time, was set to direct and have Sullivan Bluth Studios provide the animation;[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, a great-grandson of science-fiction author H.G. Wells, to direct the project.[1] The result was that the film's animation style was distinctly different from that of its predecessor.

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), his restoration work for the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation 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. Instead of her red babushka headdress and blue and yellow dress, she wore a different colored dress and was given bangs and a ponytail and she was a couple inches taller than Fievel. Tiger also underwent minor changes (such as removing the "M" from his shirt), as did Yasha (the baby) and Fievel.

James Horner returned to write the score to the movie, reusing old themes and introducing new ones.

Amy Irving, who voiced Miss Kitty in the film, was Spielberg's ex-wife. During production, he had married Kate Capshaw who had worked with him on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 1984.

John Lithgow and Martin Short were considered to play Cat R. Waul and T.R. Chula, but Jon Lovitz signed to play Chula and John Cleese turned down the role as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast to play Cat R. Waul.


Fievel Goes West was released in the United States on November 22, 1991, exactly five years and one day after the release of the original American Tail film, and the same day as Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Although it profited at the box office, the film 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 $18 million overseas, for a total of $40,766,041.[4] By contrast, the original Tail made $47.4 million in the U.S. in 1986, a record at the time for a non-Disney animated film.,[5] and a further $36 million overseas, for a total of $84 million.


The film received mixed reviews from film critics. 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." The New York Times wrote "The film is really a bland, randomly connected series of adventures involving the Mouskewitz children, Tiger and his girlfriend, Miss Kitty, a sultry barroom chanteuse. While the quality of the animation is above average, the film's visualization of the American West is surprisingly dull. The movie has little narrative drive or emotional resonance, and its final action sequences seem perfunctory and tacked on."[7] As of November 2013, 40% of critics gave it a positive reception on Rotten Tomatoes.[8]

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 followups: An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island and An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster.

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.

An LCD game based on the movie was created for Tiger Electronics on 1991.

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

A Super Nintendo video game based on the movie was released in 1994. See An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (video game) for more.

A Game Boy Advance video game based on the movie was released in 2002. See An American Tail: Fievel's Gold Rush for more.


  • The engine on the train with a coal tender, two passenger coaches, a boxcar, and a caboose, is a 4-6-0 engine or an American type steam locomotive. These types of engines with their wheel arrangement were used most common on American railroads during the 1800s and 1830s up to the year of 1928.


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.

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"

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

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
  7. Saloon Music
  8. Wylie Burp/More Like a Dog
  9. The Shoot-Out (Movie Version)
  10. The River Returns/Celebration

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Beck, Jerry (2005). "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West". The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Reader Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 1-55652-591-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links