“Not that surprisingly, given Richard Williams’ obsessive attention to detail and insistence that The Thief And The Cobbler be the most elaborate animated film ever made, deadlines became a problem. The film was animated at 24 frames per second (12 is more common), and every image was hand-drawn. The amount of work that went into a single sequence, the grand Vizier fanning a deck of cards, was astronomical—each card was individually painted. As one of the animators Kevin Schreck interviewed for [his Williams documentary] Persistence Of Vision put it, “It looked like people died making this film.” And people had: By this point, [veteran animators] Ken Harris, Emery Hawkins, and Grim Natwick were gone.”
Matthew Dessem concludes our Movie Of The Week discussion of Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a chronicle of the 30-year struggle of its animation director, Richard Williams, to create the last hand-drawn animated masterpiece. [Read more…]
Before Richard Williams directed the animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, there was an earlier attempt at Disney, from 1981 to 1983, to adapt Gary K. Wolf’s book “Who Censored Roger Rabbit.” Some of the scenes here are straight out of the novel. The director was Darrell Van Citters.
Disney 1981-1983. Animators: Mike Giamo, Chris Buck, Mike Gabriel. Paul Reubens as Roger Rabbit. Peter Renaday and Mike Gabriel as Eddie Valiant. Russi Taylor as Jessica. Unknown as Captain Cleaver. Screenwriters Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price. Producer Mark Sturdivant.
While Roger was a villain in the book, trying to solve his own murder, this Roger is a loveable goofball in white fur and red overalls - a prototype for the final film. Baby Herman is glimpsed only briefly, and Jessica Rabbit appears to be the villain of the piece. Still, this version clearly laid some groundwork for the Zemeckis/Williams production a few years later.
The prototype Roger Rabbit appears cheering in the stands in the featurette “Sport Goofy in Soccermania.”
P-p-please, Eddie! Don’t throw me out. Don’t you realize you’re making a big mistake? I didn’t kill anybody. I swear! The whole thing’s a set up. A scam, a frame job. Ow! Eddie, I could never hurt anybody. Ow! My whole purpose in life is to make… people… laugh!