The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town
|The Easter Bunny Is Comin' To Town|
Cover of the DVD version
|Written by||Romeo Muller|
|Directed by||Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Narrated by||Fred Astaire|
|Theme music composer||Maury Laws|
|Country of origin||United States
Arthur Rankin Jr.
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Home Video
(current rights holder)
|Original release||April 6, 1977|
|Followed by||Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)|
The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town is a 1977 stop motion animated Easter television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, and featuring the voice of Fred Astaire as the narrator. It originally premiered on ABC on April 6, 1977 at 8 p.m.
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S.D. Kluger (from Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town and once again voiced by Fred Astaire) returns as a train engineer, but still a mailman to answer questions about the Easter Bunny in the children's letters.
The story begins in the small town of Kidville, run by all orphaned children (Including S.D. Kluger when he was a kid) and located on the other side of Big Rock Mountain. The children enjoy the simple life, despite being bothered by Gadzooks the Bear (Allen Swift) who hates everything to do with the holidays. One Easter morning, they find an orphaned baby rabbit, raise him as their own, and name him Sunny when they notice how much he likes the warm sun. Sunny (Skip Hinnant), now one year old, makes plans with the children to sell what they make in exchange for what they need, including their eggs, with help from three chickens called the Hendrew Sisters (Jill Choder and Karen Dahle).
Sunny sets off to deliver his eggs. Along the way, he meets a friendly hobo named Hallelujah Jones (Ron Marshall), who suggests to him that he could sell his eggs in a town called Town. However, upon climbing Big Rock Mountain, Sunny runs into Gadzooks who steals his eggs. After escaping, Sunny makes it to Town which is a dreary, dismal place where if any children are born, the whole family has to move away, and beans are eaten for every meal. The ruthless Dowager Duchess Lily Longtooth (Meg Sargent) is the de facto ruler of the town through her regency over her seven-year-old nephew, King Bruce the Frail (James Spies). Bruce complains about wanting to be a normal child, despite his aunt's objections.
Saddened by this, Sunny heads back to Kidville and explains the problem. Hallelujah and the children dip the eggs in various bowls of paint as a way of tricking Gadzooks. He lies to the bear, saying he is on his way to sell colored stones as paperweights. Gadzooks, befuddled by Sunny's lie, lets him go, demanding he bring him eggs. Sunny makes it into Town again, passing out his eggs to all the townspeople, including King Bruce, who crowns him the Easter Bunny, Royal Knight of the Rainbow Eggs and he and Sunny initiate a traditional ritual of eating the eggs. However, Lily, disappointed in her nephew, chases Sunny out, outlaws eggs, and sends him to bed without supper. After Bruce tells Sunny that he knew his supper would be more beans, anyway, Sunny promises to bring him very special beans next Easter.
The following year, Sunny, Hallelujah, and Herbert the Baker (Michael McGovern) make the first Easter jelly beans. However, upon their way to Town to deliver them, Gadzooks, still angered by Sunny's lie, and thinking his eggs are colored stones again, flings them far, far away. All hope seems lost until all the other children hunt the eggs up in bushes and trees, and Sunny decides that he'll always hide them.
Next Easter, Sunny sets out, only to get caught by Gadzooks, who chases him to Kidville, where everybody has all pitched in to make him a brand new Easter outfit made by the Kidville tailors. Touched by their gesture of kindness, Gadzooks becomes their friend.
Meanwhile back in Town, the townspeople become interested in the Easter eggs Sunny hides, King Bruce and his servants enjoy eating the jelly beans, and the children are loved by all the townspeople. But Lily, outraged, sends her guards out to arrest them, but Sunny and the children leave just in time, and promise to return next year.
Next Easter, Sunny has the candy maker come up with a secret weapon of his own for their next visit. Hallelujah suggests Sunny should do something for Bruce so he can stand up to Lily, which Sunny agrees to and goes to the Kidville seamstress and pillow makers for this idea. On their next visit to Town, after causing the guards to trip on the rolling Easter eggs, Sunny hops into a paper bag, where the guards discover that they captured a chocolate bunny, thus being let into Town where Sunny brings Bruce stuffed animals to give him courage every night when he is lonely. Just as Bruce is about to give Sunny permission to come to Town whenever he wants, Lily arrives to stop him. Bruce tells her that he outranks her, but finds it difficult. Afterwards, Lily tells her guards do anything they can to stop Sunny from coming to Town.
The following year, Sunny and friends plan to have Gadzooks help them bring all the Easter treats to Town. However, Lily's guards cause the bear to trip and break his leg. Everyone is saddened that Gadzooks can't help, but Hallelujah suggests that they build a railroad over Big Rock Candy Mountain from Kidville to Town (so named to "sweeten the deal" and get workers to lay the rails). After the railroad is built, Sunny and his friends go to the trainyard to hire a train to carry all the goods. In a scenario paralleling The Little Engine that Could, the big engines in the roundhouse are too important to help, and a switch engine named Chugs (Bob McFadden), all rusty after being put down for years, is the only engine willing to take the task. Sunny and his friends hire Chuggs and give him a new paint job. Meanwhile, Lily orders her guards to do anything they can to stop the train from getting to Town. They spread melted butter on the rails, causing Chugs to slip, but Hallelujah pours jelly beans on the butter, providing extra traction and allowing them to escape, thus causing Lily's plan to fail. Soon after, they all make it to Town, where everyone is happily celebrating. But Lily is upset, thinking Bruce will banish her forever. However, he and Sunny give her an Easter flower named after her, called a lily. Lily, overjoyed and proud of her nephew, decides to join in the celebration.
- Fred Astaire – S.D. Kluger
- Skip Hinnant – Sunny
- Gia Anderson – Child
- George Brennan – Child
- Stacy Carey – Child
- Jill Choder – Chicken #1, Chicken #2
- Karen Dahle – Linda the Schoolteacher, Chicken #3
- Laura Dean – Child
- Ron Marshall – Hallelujah Jones, green engine, brown engine, Town guard
- Bob McFadden – Chugs, Old Man
- Michael McGovern – Herbert the Baker
- Meg Sargent – Lily Longtooth
- James Spies – King Bruce
- Allen Swift – Gadzooks, Newsreel announcer, blue engine, red engine, Town guard
- Producers/Directors – Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass
- Associate Producer – Masaki Iizuka
- Writer – Romeo Muller
- Music/Lyrics – Maury Laws, Jules Bass
- Design – Paul Coker Jr.
- Animagic Supervisor – Akikazu Kono
- Sound Recorders – John Curcio, Dave Iveland
- Sound Effects – Tom Clark
- Music Arranger/Conductor – Bernard Hoffer
- The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town- Fred Astaire
- Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?- The Hendrews Sisters
- Someone's Gotta Be First- Skip Hinnant
- You Think Nobody Loves You, But They Do- Ron Marshall and the Hendrews Sisters
- The Big Rock Candy Mountain- Ron Marshall
- Train-Yard Blues- Bob McFadden and the Hendrews Sisters
- All You Have to do is Think "Can Do"- Fred Astaire and the Cast
- The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town was Fred Astaire's second time playing S.D. Kluger in a Rankin/Bass holiday special. He was also the narrator of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (1970). The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town is also a semi-sequel to the same special, Santa Claus is only mentioned once in the special and as such, it shares many similarities with the earlier special (Sunny as Kris Kringle, the Kidville kids as the Kringles, King Bruce as Jessica, Hallelujah Jones as Topper, Gadzooks as the Winter Warlock, and Lily Longtooth as Burgermeister Meisterburger). It was also Astaire's second time starring in a production about the holiday, following the 1948 MGM musical Easter Parade.
- This was the third Rankin/Bass special about Easter. The first two were Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971), narrated by Danny Kaye, and The First Easter Rabbit (1976), narrated by Burl Ives.
- Warner Home Video released The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town on DVD in 2008. The release included a bonus feature called "The Easter Bunny is Comin’ to Town: The Magic of Stop Motion."
- Easter Bunny is Comin' to DVD Animation Magazine. Nov. 19, 2007. Accessed March 30, 2013.