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!
Distributed in 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit enthrall audiences with groundbreaking special effects and masterful storytelling. A box office hit grossing over $329,000,000 and winning much prodigious recognition, which includes four coveted Academy Awards. The critically acclaimed reception was considered very rare for an animated film during the 1980s. When moviegoers and film critics think of the crossover between real life and plastic celluloid - it is usually Jessica Rabbit that conjures in mind. In the original novel, Jessica is an immoral toon beauty who harbors loveless emotions for Roger. After all, it is Roger who commissioned a spell to make her fall in love with him and the effects lasted temporarily. The 1983 screen draft was more faithful to Gary K. Wolf’s work than the completed adaptation - instead of a cunning siren; Jessica is an ethical character who truly has her husband’s best interest at heart. [ x ]