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Here Comes Peter Cottontail
|Here Comes Peter Cottontail|
|Based on||"Here Comes Peter Cottontail"
by Steve Nelson
The Easter Bunny That Overslept
by Priscilla Friedrich
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Voices of||Casey Kasem
|Narrated by||Danny Kaye|
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Cinematography||Kizo Nagashima (Animagic Supervision)|
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Rankin/Bass Productions|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||April 4, 1971 (1971-04-04)|
|Followed by||Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie|
Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a 1971 Easter stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, currently distributed by Universal Television and based on the 1957 novel The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich. The special also features Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins' Easter song "Here Comes Peter Cottontail".
It was originally broadcast on April 4, 1971, on the ABC television network in the United States. In later years, it has appeared on CBS, Fox Family, The CW, and Cartoon Network. In 2005, it was followed by a computer-animated sequel, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie.
Peter Cottontail is a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley where all the other Easter Bunnies live and work, making Easter candy, sewing bonnets, and decorating and delivering Easter eggs.
Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names Peter his successor, despite his boasting and lying. Peter, who has dreamed of being the Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts. Only one bunny objects to the Colonel's decision; January Q. Irontail, an evil, reclusive rabbit villain, who lives alone in a craggy old tree, except for his bat assistant Montresor and his pet spider. Irontail also wants to become Chief Easter Bunny, only so he can ruin Easter for children as revenge for the loss of his tail, which was previously run over by a rollerskating child and replaced with an iron prosthetic. Irontail demands that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who delivers the most eggs, as the Constitution of April Valley reads. Peter accepts the challenge, but stays up all night partying with his friends. Although he tells his rooster Ben to wake him up at 5:30 in the morning, Irontail sneaks into his house and feeds the rooster magic bubblegum, sealing his beak and Peter sleeps on, not hearing the crows from the popping bubbles. Though Irontail tries all day to deliver eggs with unsuccessful results, he is only able to deliver one egg to a sleeping hobo. However, it's still one egg more than Peter delivered. Therefore, Irontail becomes the new Chief Easter Bunny, passing laws to make Easter a disaster such as: Painting eggs brown and gray, ordering the candy sculptors to make chocolate tarantulas and octopuses instead of bunnies and chicks, and having Easter galoshes instead of bonnets. Meanwhile, Peter, ashamed that his bragging and irresponsibility led to this tragedy, leaves April Valley until he meets Seymour S. Sassafras (the narrator), an eccentric peddler and inventor, who supplies April Valley with the colors to paint the eggs with from his Garden of Surprises, like Red, white, and blue cabbages, purple corn, striped tomatoes, and orange string beans. Sassafras then lets Peter use his Yestermorrowbile, a time machine, piloted by a caterpillar named Antoine who will take Peter back to Easter to deliver his eggs, win the contest, and defeat Irontail. Unfortunately, Irontail finds out about Peter's plan and sends his spider to sabotage the Yestermorrowbile's controls, allowing Peter and Antoine to go to any holiday but Easter.
Since the contest's rules don't specifically say the eggs must be delivered only on Easter, Peter tries to give his eggs away at other holidays without success. On the Fourth of July, he lies to two boys by painting his eggs red, white, and blue and tries to pass them off as firecrackers. When that fails, they crash land on Halloween where Peter meets a witch named Madame Esmeralda and gives her a Halloween egg as a gift, making the score a tie. When she calls the other Halloween inhabitants, Irontail sends Montresor out to steal Peter's eggs. After getting the eggs back, Peter tells Antoine they have to get back to Halloween, but they can't go back since Antoine has to land the craft to fix it. After failing to give any of his eggs away on Thanksgiving, they go to Christmas Eve where Peter, dressed as Santa Claus, tries to give his Christmas eggs on the streets. But the streets are deserted. Then Peter hears sobbing from a hat shop nearby, where he meets Bonnie, a talking Easter Bonnet from April Valley. Bonnie is sad because nobody wants to buy her. So Peter tells the shopkeeper that he'll trade her his Christmas eggs for Bonnie. Unfortunately, Irontail steals them again and Peter and Bonnie go after him, accidentally leaving Antoine behind. During the chase, Irontail and Montresor crash into Santa's sleigh where Santa demands Irontail give the eggs back to Peter. Santa returns the eggs, but Peter is too sad to say thank you since they left Antoine behind. Afterwards, Peter and Bonnie land on Valentine's Day where Peter meets a beautiful female bunny named Donna and he gives her a Valentine egg. However, Irontail finds the eggs and casts a spell on them, turning them all green, inside and out. As such, nobody wants the eggs anymore; even Donna gives hers back. After failing to give the green eggs away on Washington's birthday, saying he chopped down the lime tree, Peter vows to be more responsible and they land in the middle of St. Patrick's Day where he finally gets to give the eggs away and wins the contest, becoming the official Chief Easter Bunny. Antoine returns as a butterfly, and Irontail becomes the April Valley janitor while Peter leads an Easter parade with all the characters from the story, including Irontail and Montresor.
The special featured the following cast members:
|Casey Kasem||Peter Cottontail|
|Danny Kaye||Seymour S. Sassafras / Colonel Wellington B. Bunny / Antoine|
|Vincent Price||January Q. Irontail|
|Joan Gardner||Mother/Sue/Madame Esmeralda/Bonnie Bonnet/Hat shop owner/Martha Washington|
|Paul Frees||Colonel Wellington's assistant/Man at Thanksgiving table/Santa Claus/Fireman/Rooster|
|Greg Thomas||Tommy / Boy 1 (Independence Day)|
|Jeff Thomas||Boy 2 (Independence Day)|
On May 28, 1971, Danny Kaye was the guest on the ABC-TV late night talk program The Dick Cavett Show. It was a ninety-minute salute not only to Kaye's career as a performer but also his work as an ambassador of UNICEF. During the show, Kaye also talked about working on Peter Cottontail and showed some raw footage on how the puppets were made and how the stop motion sequences were put together.
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail – Seymour S. Sassafrass
- The Easter Bunny Never Sleeps – Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, Chorus
- The Easter Bunny Always Sleeps (Irontail's reprise; the corrupted version of The Easter Bunny Never Sleeps) – Irontail
- If I Could Only Get Back to Yesterday – Seymour S. Sassafrass, Chorus
- When You Can't Get It All Together, Improvise – Antoine, Peter Cottontail, Chorus
- Be Mine Today – Peter Cottontail, Donna, Chorus
- In The Puzzle of Life – Seymour S. Sassafrass, Chorus
- Here Comes Peter Cottontail (reprise) – Seymour S. Sassafrass, Chorus
- Producers/Directors – Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr.
- Teleplay – Romeo Muller
- Music and Lyrics – Jules Bass, Maury Laws
- Based on "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" – Steve Nelson/Jack Rollins © 1949 Hill & Range Songs, Inc.
- Based on "The Easter Bunny That Overslept" – Priscilla and Otto Friedrich © 1957 Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company
- Illustration – Adrienne Adams
- Character Design – Paul Coker, Jr.
- Continuity Design – Steve Nakagawa
- Editorial Supervisor – Irwin Goldress
- Sound and Effects Recording – John Boyd, Jim Harris
- "Animagic" Supervision – Kizo Nagashima
- Character Model Sculptor – Ichiro Komuro (uncredited)
- Animators – Yutaka Mikome (uncredited), Takeo Nakamura, Hiroshi Tabata
- Musical Director – Maury Laws
Home media releases
The special has seen multiple releases in various formats. In 1990, 1992, 1993, 1998, and 2002, it was released on VHS by Family Home Entertainment and Sony Wonder. It has also seen the following releases on DVD:
- February 12, 2002 (Sony Wonder)
- February 15, 2005 (Sony Wonder)
- February 10, 2009 (Genius Products)
- February 18, 2014 (DreamWorks Animation)
The 2014 release is the first to include the sequel, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie.
A Blu-ray was released by DreamWorks on February 22, 2019 as a Wal-Mart exclusive, but this Blu-ray contains a heavily edited version of the film. Rather than presenting the full unedited special, as every home video release prior (on DVD and VHS before that) has done, this one cuts many scenes, edits some songs and leaves others out entirely, while also fading to black in other areas before resuming. This edited Blu-ray version runs nearly 10 minutes shorter than the original. This same release was extended beyond Wal-Mart to all media retailers the following year, 2020, but contains the same edited version as the Wal-Mart exclusive.
- The First Easter Rabbit (1976 Rankin-Bass traditional animated special)
- The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town (1977 Rankin-Bass stop-motion special)
- List of animated feature films
- List of stop-motion films
- Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (3rd ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-8160-6600-1.
- Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 194–196. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- Terrace, Vincent (2013). Television Specials: 5,336 Entertainment Programs, 1936-2012 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 185. ISBN 9780786474448.
- Clarke, Eileen, ed. (March 23, 1992). "Activities for Children – Videos". New York Magazine. 25 (12): 104.
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