Trivia / An American Tail

The entire series:

  • Dawson Casting: Tanya, save in the first film.
  • Dueling Movies: An American Tail and The Great Mouse Detective. (Sort of; that movie came out in the summer, while Tail was released for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season, though things were tense as Disney watched how well AAT would do in comparison to GMD.) An American Tail won and became the highest grossing animated film in history up to that point, but that isn't to say The Great Mouse Detective wasn't successful. Still, it's been said that this was the movie that gave Disney the kick in the pants it needed to improve its animated films.
  • Fake Russian: Fievel's voice actor wasn't even remotely Russian, and neither was Tanya's. And Papa's voice actor, Nehemiah Persoff, was born in Palestine (well, it was Palestine when he was born). Though he and Fievel's voice actor Phillip Glasser were Jewish, so they were halfway there.
  • Reality Subtext: Fievel was the Yiddish name of Steven Spielberg's immigrant maternal grandfather Phillip Posner.

An American Tail

  • Actor Allusion: Madeline Kahn plays Gussie Mouseheimer with the same Elmuh Fudd Syndwome she used for Lilly von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles.
  • Breakaway Pop Hit: "Somewhere Out There," which has since become a staple wedding song.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Tony Toponi is actually voiced by a woman, Pat Musick.
    • Ditto in the Japanese dub, who is voiced by Mayumi Tanaka.
    • On the other hand this is averted in the Latin American Spanish dubs, since he was voiced by male voice actors using a more younger voice.
  • Cut Song: Fievel was supposed to have another song in the sweatshop.
  • The Danza: It's quite possible that Fievel's nickname 'Philly' was chosen because of the name of his voice actor, Phillip Glasser.
  • Executive Meddling: This film and The Land Before Time were the only examples of this not being a bad thing for Bluth. Creatively, it was always Spielberg's word over his, which he was not happy about, but then again, it was Steven Spielberg, although Bluth claims that he at least gave him the space to do his job properly. Both parties, however, were victim to Universal's lack of funding, as the higher-ups had no way of knowing whether or not it would be successful, resulting in several unfinished scenes and a somewhat choppy plot. Spielberg, who had never worked in animation before, was also frustrated by how notoriously slow and expensive it was to create even a single scene.
  • Fake Irish: Bridget's voice actress.
  • Non-Singing Voice: During the song Somewhere Out There, Betsy Cathcart replaces Amy Green as Tanya's voice actress. Averted with Fievel, leading to the Narm Charm noted in the YMMV tab.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • When David Kirschner came up with the idea for this, it was originally intended to be a half-hour television special, but Steven Spielberg thought it would be better as a full-length animated feature, so he decided to turn to Don Bluth to make the magic happen and the rest was history.
    • The movie's plot was originally meant to be a flashback story told by 107-year-old Fievel to his great grandkids in present day. This idea was likely scrapped because it was felt really unnecessary. There's also the utter impossibility of a mouse becoming a centenarian (and even if Fievel aged like a human, he'd be close to the equivalent of one of the world's oldest; not impossible, but not very believable) note 
    • Fievel's nickname "Philly" wasn't in the original script (and therefore, neither was the Chekhov's Gun of Tanya's name being changed to Tilly when the Mousekewitz's arrive in New York City- after all, "if it's not essential don't include it in the story".) The nickname was added because Bluth thought "Fievel sounded too foreign, and audiences wouldn't like it," so Spielberg and Bluth agreed to have him be called "Fievel" by his family, but "Philly" by everyone else. Bluth was ultimately proven wrong.
    • Jerry Goldsmith was considered to compose the score, but was too busy with other projects and was replaced by James Horner. Had things turned out differently, it would have been the second collaboration between Bluth and Goldsmith, after The Secret of NIMH.

An American Tail: Fievel Goes West and Fievel's American Tails

  • Actor Allusion: Jimmy Stewart's finale role - a Western.
  • Image Source:
  • B-Team Sequel: Bluth was offered first crack at directing, but backed out when he and Spielberg started fighting for creative control. He was also busy with Rock-A-Doodle.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Fievel's American Tails, which is doubtful to be released on DVD anytime soon (at least not in America, oddly). All 13 episodes were released on VHS in the early 90's though.
  • No Export for You: In an odd and ironic inversion of this trope, the DVD release of Fievel's American Tails and the An American Tail video game for the Playstation 2 are available in Europe, but not America.
  • No Budget: Averted With "Fivel Goes West", but played straight with "Fivel's American Tails" which was criticized for its Off-Model character designs and stiff, often error-ridden animation; leading the show to being quickly canceled.
  • The Other Darrin: Most of the voice actors from the first movie reprised their roles, but Tanya was voiced instead by Cathy Cavadini.
    • In Fievel's American Tails Cat R. Waul is voiced by Gerrit Graham, and Chula is voiced by Dan Castellaneta (and as a consequence sounds like Krusty the Clown).
  • Reality Subtext: During the production of Fievel Goes West, Steven Spielberg had just finished a nasty divorce with Amy Irving, voice actress of Miss Kitty. What does the film introduce Miss Kitty doing? Breaking up with Tiger.
    • By the time the sequel had come out, the general public was pretty sick of "Somewhere Out There," resulting in its only use in the film being a self-deprecating joke.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • John Lithgow and Martin Short were considered for Cat R. Waul and T.R. Chula.
    • CÚline Dion was originally going to sing "Dreams to Dream" and even recorded a demo for Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately, it was rejected which prompted Dion to be terminated.

The Direct-to-Video sequels

  • Non-Singing Voice: Cholena's different voice actress sings "Anywhere in Your Dreams", though it's not very obvious.
  • The Other Darrin: Fievel's voice actor changes to Thomas Dekker in the DTV movies, because Phillip Glasser was too old by then.
    • And of course Tanya almost never had the same voice actress twice. Cathy Cavadini returned to voice her in Fievel's American Tails but that was it.
    • Luckily averted with Tony, Tiger and Papa though, which is one of the good things these movies have going for them.
    • The Latin American Spanish dub was dubbed in Mexico, rather than Los Angeles, CA. in the U.S. like the two previous theatrical films.