An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island

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An American Tail:
The Treasure of Manhattan Island
DVD cover
Directed by Larry Latham
Produced by Larry Latham
Written by Len Uhley
Based on characters
by David Kirschner
Starring Thomas Dekker
Lacey Chabert
Elaine Bilstad
Pat Musick
Dom DeLuise
René Auberjonois
David Carradine
John Kassir
Sherman Howard
Tony Jay
Nehemiah Persoff
Erica Yohn
Richard Karron
Ron Perlman
Music by Michael Tavera
James Horner
(archive music from An American Tail and An American Tail: Fievel Goes West)
Universal Family & Home Entertainment Production[1]
Universal Cartoon Studios
TMS-Kyokuichi Corporation
(overseas animation studio)
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Video
Release date
  • November 16, 1998 (1998-11-16) (United Kingdom)
  • February 15, 2000 (2000-02-15) (United States)
Running time
78 minutes
Country United States[1]
Language English

An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island (also known as An American Tail III: The Treasure of Manhattan Island) is a 1998 American animated family musical film[2] produced by Universal Cartoon Studios (now Universal Animation Studios), directed by Larry Latham and animated overseas by the Japanese studio TMS-Kyokuichi Corporation (now TMS Entertainment). Its position in the overall timeline of the franchise is unclear. It is the third film in the An American Tail series, and the first to receive a direct-to-video release. The film premiered in the United Kingdom on November 16, 1998, and was released in the United States on February 15, 2000. Thomas Dekker took over the role of Fievel Mousekewitz from Phillip Glasser, the original actor, who was already 20 years old by then. Four actors from the original film (Dom DeLuise, Erica Yohn, Nehemiah Persoff, and finally, Pat Musick) reprised their roles. Tony Toponi returns in this movie as part of the main cast (after his limited appearance on the second film and his absence from the short lived TV series), but ironically as an unmarried adolescent since Bridget couldn't make further appearances due to her voice actress, Cathianne Blore, was in bad health while battling cancer during the production of this film. One actress, Elaine Bilstad, died of heart failure one year after voicing the character, Cholena, which marks this her final character role. The subplots of this film were found "too inappropriate for the franchise", as regarded by Common Sense Media.[3]


The story begins in New York City setting sometime after the first and second movie, in the year 1905 or 1910, as Fievel and Tony discover that an ancient treasure lies underneath Manhattan when snooping around an abandoned subway (the Beach Pneumatic Transit system) and stumbling upon the remains of a dead mouse clutching a treasure map, deciding they must find it with the help of an archaeologist Tony knows: Dr. Dithering, along with fighting five villains as well.

The movie focuses on the relationship between the over-exploited workers of a sweatshop (in this case, a cheese production line) and the factory's robber baron owners: Mr. Grasping (Ron Perlman), Mr. Toplofty (Tony Jay) and Mr. O'Bloat (Richard Karron). It also focuses on the plight of the Native Americans in the United States. The treasure under Manhattan turns out to be a group of Lenape mice living a long distance beneath the surface (far below the sewers, riding in an underground pressurized train) that decided to hide when they saw how the first Europeans only brought war and disease with them and didn't want to wait for the European mice to do the same to them. An emotional scene ensues when Fievel must struggle with how cruel his own people, the Europeans, were (and still are at the time the film takes place) to the natives of America.

The sachem, Chief Wulisso (David Carradine), decides to send his daughter Cholena (Elaine Bilstad), to the surface to see if they have "changed their ways." Upon their return, Scuttlebutt (John Kassir) (one of the members of the expedition to find the treasure) reports to the villains unbeknownst to the rest of the members of the expedition, who then decide to use this to their advantage. They lie to all the workers of the sweatshop about Cholena (obviously not by name), telling them that she is their enemy. The mouse NYPD Chief, McBrusque (Sherman Howard) and Scuttlebutt engage in a bout of police brutality, scavenging every nook and cranny until they find her. After the angry mouse mob try to capture Cholena and anyone else involved with her, Fievel and his friends decide to take Cholena back underground, but the police find out and go after them. Meanwhile, everyone finds out about Dr. Dithering's friendship with the Indian and take him to the butcher shop for his execution. Papa tells everyone about how madness like this is why they all left for America and should work together to become friends with those different from them as the fellow Americans they are. Tiger saves Dr. Dithering from the villains, who escape and order McBrusque and his men to find and murder the Native Americans. Upon returning Cholena to her home, they tell the chief what is happening. McBrusque, Scuttlebutt, and the other police officers show up to the village, but the Chief, the Native Americans, Fievel and his friends drive the villains away. The chief gives them a gunpowder bomb to collapse the tunnel connecting the Native Americans to the outside world. But before they can do so, they are ambushed by the enraged McBrusque and Scuttlebutt who attempt to kill the kids once and for all, but the two crooks are overpowered and Fievel manages to set off the bomb. This floods the tunnel, together with McBrusque and Scuttlebutt as they fall into the chasm to their deaths. Tony and Tanya managed to reach higher ground, but Fievel is seemingly carried off by the current. When the water recedes Tanya and Tony desperately search through the mud to find him, before giving up. But just then, Fievel breaks through the surface, and they all three share a muddy group hug, thankful that everyone survived.

The movie ends with Fievel's papa forming a worker's union and the villains agreeing amongst themselves to negotiate "with that riff-raff" because otherwise, they'll go on strike and make them go bankrupt while Tiger the Bass, Baritone, and Tenor-singing orange tabby cat, who is now the new police chief, watches them. The last scene is Fievel seeing, through a foldable telescope, Cholena and her father disappearing into a hidden door at the foot of a statue, which pleases Fievel.

Voice cast[edit]


Written by: William Anderson
Performed by: William Anderson, Amick Byran, Jodi Benson, Melissa D, and Cam Clarke
Written by: William Anderson
Performed by: Ron Perlman, Tony Jay, and Richard Karron
Written by: Wayne Tester and Sharon Rice
Performed by: Thomas Dekker and Leeza Miller


Universal first advertised this film on a VHS reissue of The Chipmunk Adventure in 1998,[4] but was consequently put on hold due to difficult reasons. After nearly the two year hiatus, the film was released on VHS in February 15, 2000.[5] Then it was released on DVD in 2004, with a sing-along version of "Anywhere In Your Dreams" as a bonus feature, with the visual effects and Tony's yellings muted out. It was the last time the film was release on home media alone. However, it was combined with three other movies on June 13, 2017,[6] as the film alone was yet to be reissued on DVD due to poor sales from the previous release.


Robert Pardi of TV Guide rated it 2/5 stars and wrote, "Although the bright and bubbly animation lacks depth, these cute little vermin have just enough personality to make tykes unaware they're being spoonfed ethnic-harmony aphorisms."[2] Susan King of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it will probably bore anyone over age 10, but young children will probably enjoy it.[7] However, Rotten Tomatoes gave an audience score 28% due to retconning Fievel Goes West and for the exaggerated concept changes.[8]


Besides respecting the history of the Mousekewitz family, the concept is hated by the majority of the audience. The changing of fan favorite Tanya to Cholena, plus Tanya's personality change make this sequel one of the most unpopular Don Bluth-related films, thus making Cholena one of the most unpopular Don Bluth-related characters. It was also disliked because of Bridget's absence, as Tony develops an unrequited crush on Cholena, while supposed to be in a relationship with Bridget. This makes one of the few Don Bluth sequels to be explicitly dismissed from canon.

Social Issues[edit]

Unlike the previous films and the next film, this film has dealt with issues, involving racism and police brutality. According to Common Sense Media, they felt like it was more "out of place for An American Tail", as one protester was beaten senselessly by police thugs, as well as Tony gets slammed against the wall by Scuttlebutt, and the term "injun" was used by the antagonist. The group was also concerned about the Lenape mice were depicted as stereotypes of actual Native Americans. Common Sense Media stated that "You should stick with An American Tail and skip this one.".[3]


  1. ^ a b "An American Tail The Treasure of Manhattan Island (1998)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  2. ^ a b "An American Tail: The Treasure Of Manhattan Island". TV Guide. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  3. ^ a b "Scarier and darker than the past films". Common Sense Media. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  4. ^ "The 1998 VHS release of The Chipmunk Adventure has a trailer for An American Tail III". Amazon.
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Eileen (December 25, 1999). "'Mummy' Shoots Universal's Sales Over $1 Bil.; Retailers Win With Sight And Sound". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 52.
  6. ^ "An American Tail: 4 Movie Complete Collection". Amazon. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
  7. ^ King, Susan (2000-02-17). "Fievel's Big Adventure in Manhattan". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-10-01.
  8. ^ "An American Tail 3". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links[edit]