Here Comes Peter Cottontail
|Here Comes Peter Cottontail|
|Written by||Priscilla and Otto Friedrich (book)
Thornton Burgess (story)
Romeo Muller (story)
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Narrated by||Danny Kaye|
|Theme music composer||Steve Nelson
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Running time||55 minutes|
|Distributor||DreamWorks Classics (current)|
|Original release||April 4, 1971|
|Followed by||Here Comes Peter Cottontail: The Movie|
Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a 1971 Easter stop-motion 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.
||This television-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (January 2008)|
Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names Peter his successor, despite his boasting and fibbing, exemplified when his left ear droops. Peter, who has dreamed of being Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts. However, January Q. Irontail wants to be Chief Easter Bunny, 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 roller-skated over it and had to be replaced with a hard iron tail, thus giving him his name. He then goes to April Valley where Colonel Bunny is about to crown Peter the new Chief Easter Bunny and proposes a contest to see who delivers the most eggs and wins in order to be the new Chief Easter Bunny, so the Constitution of April Valley states. Peter, eager to prove his worth accepts the challenge, though the Colonel refuses. Although Peter promises the Colonel that he won't fail, he stays up late partying with his friends. Though he tells his rooster to wake him up at 5:30 AM, Irontail sneaks into his house and feeds magic bubblegum to it, causing the crows to float so far away that Peter can't hear them, resulting in sleeping through and losing the contest.
Even though 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 and begins passing laws that will doubtlessly make Easter 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. The next morning, he meets Seymour S. Sassafras, an eccentric and friendly peddler and inventor who supplies April Valley with the dyes it uses to color its Easter eggs with, which he gets from the vegetables he grows in his Garden of Surprises from red, white, and blue cabbages and purple corn to striped tomatoes and orange string beans.
Proving to be very compassionate and understanding, Sassafras let Peter use his time machine called the Yestemorrowbile, which can transport anyone to yesterday or tomorrow. With the help of its pilot, a French caterpillar named Antoine, Peter will be able to go back to Easter and deliver his eggs, win the contest, and defeat Irontail. Unfortunately, Irontail finds out about Peter's plan and sends his spider to sabotage the Yestemorrowbile'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. On the Fourth of July, he lies to two boys when he tries to sell his eggs as fireworks. On Halloween, he meets Madame Esmeralda the witch and gives her a Halloween egg. When she calls the other inhabitants of Halloween together, Irontail sends his pet bat Montresor out to steal and smash Peter's eggs. Fortunately, Peter and Antoine recover all of the eggs.
Unfortunately, Peter cannot go back to Halloween to give out the rest of his eggs since Antoine has to land the Yestermorrowbile to keep up with the repairs. On Christmas Eve, Peter, who continues to fail to sell his "Christmas eggs" while dressed as Santa Claus, meets Bonnie Bonnet who left April Valley years ago, all alone in a hat shop, crying because no one will buy her at Christmas. Peter makes a deal with the hat shop owner, trading her his Christmas eggs for Bonnie. However, Irontail steals the eggs and Peter and Bonnie go after him, accidentally leaving Antoine behind. After demanding Irontail return the eggs to Peter, Santa returns the eggs to Peter without Peter thanking him. On Valentine's Day, Peter meets Donna, a lovely girl bunny who immediately takes an interest in one of his Valentine eggs. However, Irontail finds the eggs and casts an evil spell on them, turning them all green, inside and out.
In the end, Peter finally manages to give the green eggs away on St. Patrick's Day, since they are the appropriate color. As a result, he is crowned Chief Easter Bunny, Antoine returns as a butterfly, and Irontail is now the April Valley janitor.
- Note: 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.
|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|
- 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 (uncredited) - Ichiro Komuro/Kyoko Kita
- Animation (uncredited) - Hiroshi Tabata/Takeo Nakamura
- Musical Directer - 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)
- 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