Here Comes Peter Cottontail
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|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||Danny Kaye
|Narrated by||Danny Kaye|
|Theme music composer||Steve Nelson
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Cinematography||Kizo Nagashima (Animagic Supervision)|
|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.
It was originally broadcast on ABC-TV, and in later years, appeared on CBS, Fox Family, The CW, and Cartoon Network. In 2006, 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. However, January Q. Irontail wants to be Chief Easter Bunny himself so he can ruin it for children after a child roller-skated over his tail and had to wear a prosthetic one made of iron. Irontail demands that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who wins since the Constitution of April Valley states that the Chief Easter Bunny should be the one who delivers the most eggs.
Arrogant Peter accepts Irontail's challenge, but stays up all night partying with his friends. Although he tells his rooster to wake him up at 5:30 in the morning, Irontail sneaks into his house and feeds the rooster magic bubblegum, sealing its beak and Peter sleeps on, not hearing the crows from the popping bubblegum bubbles. Though Irontail tries all day to deliver eggs with unsuccessful results, he is only able to deliver one egg. Therefore, Irontail becomes the new Chief Easter Bunny, passing laws to make Easter a disaster, such as having eggs painted 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, an eccentric peddler and inventor, who supplies April Valley with the colors to paint the eggs from his Garden of Surprises, from red, white, and blue cabbages and purple corn to striped tomatoes and orange stringbeans. Sassafras then lets Peter use his Yestermorrowbile, a time machine, piloted by a French caterpillar named Antoine to take Peter back to Easter, 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 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 selling them as firecrackers. When that fails, they crashland 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 the Bat 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 his eggs away on Thanksgiving, they go to Christmas Eve where Peter, dressed as Santa Claus, tries to sell his Christmas eggs on the streets. But the streets are deserted. Then Peter hears crying from a hat shop nearby where he meets Bonnie 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 crashes into Santa's sleigh where Santa demands to 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 girl bunny named Donna and Peter gives her a Valentine egg. However, Irontail finds the eggs and casts a spell on them, turning them all green, inside and out. Peter then vows to be more responsible and they land in the middle of St. Patrick's Day where he finally gets to give his green 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.
|Casey Kasem||Peter Cottontail|
|Danny Kaye||Seymour S. Sassafras / 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 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) – 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
- 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/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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