Here Comes Peter Cottontail
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|Here Comes Peter Cottontail|
|Written by||Priscilla and Otto Friedrich (book)
Thornton Burgess (story)
Romeo Muller (story)
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Voices of||Danny Kaye
|Narrated by||Danny Kaye|
|Theme music composer||Steve Nelson
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution (current)|
|Original release||April 4, 1971|
|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 and based on the 1957 novel The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich. 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.
Seymour S. Sassafrass, an eccentric peddler and inventor, tells the tale of Peter Cottontail, a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley. April Valley is where all that is Easter (colored eggs, chocolate candy, etc.) comes from, all of it overseen by the Chief Easter Bunny.
Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names young Peter his successor despite Peter's propensity for boasting and telling lies. 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 who lives in a craggy old tree, alone except for his assistant Montresor, who is a bat, 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.
Because the constitution of April Valley says only the rabbit who delivers the most eggs on Easter morning can be Chief Easter Bunny, Irontail demands that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who wins. Peter, being arrogant, accepts Irontail's challenge even as Colonel Bunny is preparing to turn the evil rabbit down. Although Peter promises the Colonel he won't fail, he spends all night partying with his friends and oversleeps. Just for good measure, Irontail also sabotages his alarm clock.
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. Meanwhile, Peter, ashamed that his overconfidence and irresponsibility led to this tragedy, leaves April Valley in shame.
He happens upon Seymour S. Sassafrass, who in addition to being the narrator in the present is also the 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 striped tomatoes, red string beans and blue watermelons. Proving to be a very compassionate and understanding man (if a somewhat offbeat one), Sassafrass offers to let Peter use his latest invention, the Yestmorrowmobile, 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 a spider to sabotage the Yestemorrowmobile's controls, thereby allowing Peter and Antoine to go to any holiday but Easter! The rules of the contest 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. Along the way he meets Donna, a lovely girl bunny, and keeps persisting in his quest even though no one seems to want eggs on any holiday except Easter... and to make matters worse, Irontail and Montresor the bat are always trying to steal the eggs or otherwise sabotage Peter's efforts.
|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 / Sue / Woman|
|Paul Frees||Colonel Wellington's assistant / Man at Thanksgiving table / Santa Claus / Fireman / Rooster|
|Greg Thomas||Tommy / Boy 1|
|Jeff Thomas||Boy 2|
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 the Rankin/Bass special Here Comes Peter Cottontail. He 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) - 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 - Arthur Rankin, Jr./Jules Bass
- Teleplay - Romeo Muller
- Music and Lyrics - Maury Laws/Jules Bass
- 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 - Jim Harris/John Boyd
- "Animagic" Supervision - Kizo Nagashima
- Puppet Makers - Ichiro Komuro/Kyoko Kita (both uncredited)
- Animation - Hiroshi Tabata/Takeo Nakamura (both uncredited)
- Musical Director - Maury Laws
© 1971 Videocraft International, Ltd.
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/Vivendi Entertainment)
- February 18, 2014 (DreamWorks Animation)
- 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
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