Here Comes Peter Cottontail
|Here Comes Peter Cottontail|
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Classics (current)|
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Written by||Priscilla and Otto Friedrich (book)
Thornton Burgess (story)
Romeo Muller (story)
|Narrated by||Danny Kaye|
|Music by||Steve Nelson
|Release date||April 4, 1971|
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Followed by||Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie|
Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a 1971 Easter television special made by Rankin-Bass, based on a 1957 novel by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich entitled The Easter Bunny That Overslept. The title of the special is from the Easter song "Here Comes Peter Cottontail", which is also heard in the special. The name "Peter Cottontail" comes from a series of books by Thornton W. Burgess (1874–1965), although the special is not based directly on his books.
It was originally broadcast on ABC-TV, and in later years, appeared on CBS. In 2006, it was followed by a computer-animated sequel, Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie. It is a story about the Chief Easter Bunny's son and how he saved Easter.
||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (January 2008)|
Seymour S. Sassafrass, an eccentric, yet friendly peddler and inventor, tells the tale of Peter Cottontail, a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley, where the Chief Easter Bunny supervises such Easter items as colored eggs and chocolate candy.
Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names young Peter his successor despite Peter's propensity for boasting and telling fibs, which is exemplified when his left ear droops. Peter, who has dreamed of being the Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts. But not everyone in April Valley is happy with the Colonel's decision. January Q. Irontail, an evil, reclusive rabbit villain who lives in a craggy old tree, alone except for his assistant, a bat named Montresor, wants to be the Chief Easter Bunny... but only so he can ruin it for children everywhere, as revenge for the loss of his tail, which was run over by a small child who rollerskated over his fluffy tail (we are told), and replaced with an iron prosthesis.
Because the constitution of April Valley says only the rabbit who delivers the most eggs on Easter morning can be Chief Easter Bunny, Irontail proposes that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who wins. Peter, eager to prove his worth, accepts Irontail's challenge even as Colonel Bunny is preparing to turn the evil rabbit down. Although Peter promises the Colonel that he won't fail, he stays up late partying with his friends. Though he sets his rooster to wake him up at 5:30 AM, Irontail sabotages his friend by giving it magical "corn flavored" bubblegum. The magic gum causes the rooster's crows to float so far away that Peter can't hear them, resulting in Peter sleeping through and losing the contest.
Even though the unfriendly Irontail manages to deliver only one egg, it's still one more egg than Peter delivers and so Irontail is named the new Chief Easter Bunny, as per the constitution. Immediately, Irontail begins to wreck Easter by passing ridiculous new laws that will doubtless make the entire holiday a complete disaster, such as painting eggs in the colors of mud and new concrete, ordering the candy sculptors to make chocolate octopuses and tarantulas instead of bunnies and chicks, and having Easter galoshes instead of bonnets. Meanwhile, Peter, ashamed that his overconfidence and irresponsibility led to this tragedy, leaves April Valley in disgrace and shame.
He happens upon Seymour S. Sassafrass, who (in addition to being the narrator in the present) is also the friendly man who supplies April Valley with the dyes it uses to color its Easter eggs. He gets them from his "Garden of Surprises", which includes red, white, and blue cabbages, purple corn, striped tomatoes, and orange string beans. Proving to be a very compassionate and understanding man (if a somewhat offbeat one), Sassafrass offers to let Peter use his latest invention, the Yestemorrowmobile, a time machine. With the help of its pilot, a French caterpillar named Antoine, Peter will be able to go back to Easter and retake the contest.
Unfortunately, Irontail finds out about Peter's plan and sends his spider to sabotage the Yestemorrowmobile's controls, thereby making it so that Peter and Antoine can go to any holiday but Easter! While Antoine tries to fix the machine, they find out that the rules of the contest, however, don't specifically say the eggs must be delivered on Easter, so Peter begins trying to give his eggs away at other holidays, without success. But Peter continues to attempt to persevere in his quest, even though no one seems to want eggs on any holiday except Easter. Along the way, he rescues Bonnie, a talking Easter bonnet, during Christmas Eve and meets Donna, a lovely girl bunny with whom he briefly celebrates Valentine's Day. Antoine gets left behind accidentally in a town back on Christmas Eve. But Peter's biggest problem is still Irontail and Montresor the bat; who are always trying to steal the eggs, or otherwise sabotage Peter's efforts (at one point, with help from Madame Esmerelda, a Halloween Witch), eventually succeeding in turning the eggs a mottled green color.
After one final failed attempt to pitch the green eggs on Washington's Birthday, he finally manages to give them away on St. Patrick's Day, since they are the appropriate color for the occasion. As a result, Peter is crowned Chief Easter Bunny, Antoine returns as a butterfly and Irontail is now the April Valley janitor.
|Casey Kasem||Peter Cottontail|
|Danny Kaye||Seymour S. Sassafrass / Colonel Wellington B. Bunny / Antoine|
|Vincent Price||January Q. Irontail|
|Joan Gardner||Bonnie Bonnet / Madame Esmerelda / Bonnet store owner / Mother|
|Paul Frees||Colonel Wellington's assistant / Man at Thanksgiving table / Santa Claus / Fireman / Rooster|
Home media releases
The special has seen multiple releases in various formats. In 1990, 1996, 1998, and 2002, it was released on VHS. It has been released on DVD in 2002, 2005, and, most recently, in 2009. As of April 2012, no Blu-Ray release is planned.
- The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town (1977 Rankin-Bass stop-motion special)
- List of animated feature films
- List of stop-motion films