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Sony Family Wonder presents
Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971)

"Here comes Peter Cottontail/Hoppin' down the bunny trail/Hippity-hoppin' Easter's on its way."
- Danny Kaye

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: February 18, 2002

Stars: Danny Kaye, Casey Kasem, Vincent Price
Other Stars: Joan Gardner, Paul Frees, Iris Rainer, Greg Thomas, Jeff Thomas
Director: Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass

Manufacturer: IFPI
MPAA Rating: G
Run Time: 00h:50m:46s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 074645418797
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- B+B+C B

DVD Review

Producers and directors Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass are responsible for a legacy of timeless holiday classics, with their animated Christmas specials becoming an annual ritual on television. Coming from a background in television production and advertising, the pair founded Videocraft Interational in 1955, which changed its name to Rankin/Bass in 1961. Their first television special, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer utilized a stop-motion animation style, Animagic, that has become their trademark, appearing in specials like The Year Without a Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. They also produced a number of cel animated works, such as 1969s' Frosty the Snowman, another Christmas favorite. But do you recall, the most famous reindeer, er, rabbit of all? Until recently, I had forgotten about Here Comes Peter Cottontail, one of only two Rankin/Bass Easter specials, but one which ranks with its other more well known features as an example of the Animagic process, and finally joins other restored classics on DVD. Easter is fast approaching, and work is underway in April Valley, where rabbits are busy making Easter chocolates, and bonnets for the festive occasion. After years of service, the time has come for a new chief Easter Bunny to be appointed, and Peter Cottontail is the intended heir to the title, despite his habit of fibbing. Opposition comes in the form of Irontail, a rabbit who hates kids after one ran over is tail. Peter agrees to a contest that will decide the future of Easter, whose winner has to deliver the most eggs on Easter. Peter, sure he can easily win the competition holds a party for all his friends, but sets his alarm clock to ensure an early start to his delivery. Irontail is out to foil his chances, by rigging the clock's alarm so it doesn't ring, and as a result Peter oversleeps and loses the contest. Easter is cancelled, and ashamed of his loss, Peter leaves April Valley and sets out on his own, vowing to make up for his mistake somehow. When he runs into Seymour S. Sassafrass, his chance for redemption arrives, since Sassafrass owns a time machine—the Yestermorrowbile—that could take Peter back to Easter so he can deliver the eggs as he was supposed to. Piloted by a French inchworm named Antoine, the pair head off through time, but their journey is full of mishaps as Irontail tries to thwart Peter's efforts. It's a trip through the holidays as Peter learns how to become the Easter bunny he is supposed to be. The story is based on Priscilla and Otto Friedrich's novel The Easter Bunny That Overslept. The Animagic is splendid in this special, and the voice talents of Danny Kaye (who sings the songs and voices Sassafrass, Colonel Bunny and Antoine), Vincent Price (Irontail) and the unmistakable Casey Kasem as Peter, make this fun adventure most enjoyable. Here Comes Peter Cottontail also features another collection of great songs written by Frosty the Snowman composers Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins. This is a fine, overlooked, family classic, which is most welcomed in my collection.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original full-screen aspect ratio, the image quality of this restored version is quite good, while exhibiting some signs of aging. There is a fair amount of grain present, and colors are occasionally a little off and tend to bleed a bit, though are nicely vibrant. Interlacing artifacts are present in most of the panning shots. Print defects are minimal. While I wouldn't call this pristine, this is probably the best it has looked in decades, and I'm generally happy with it.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Mono audio does show its age, being fairly brash and sibilant, and tending to distort quite frequently. I suspect this is primarily a flaw in the source material, but doesn't enhance the presentation much. Serviceable, but far from perfect.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 5 cues and remote access
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Festival of Family Classics: Puss In Boots
  2. Here Comes Peter Cottontail sing-along songs
Extras Review: Here Comes Peter Cottontail contains an added cel animated feature from the Rinkin/Bass Festival of Family Classics TV series, which covered many classic literary tales. In this 22m:34s adaptation of Charles Perrault's Puss in Boots, Jaques and his family cat, Tabby, embark on a magical adventure, when they buy a pair of lucky boots which transform Tabby into a walking, talking cat. A Sing-along section features four songs from Here Comes Peter Cottontail, including the title track, If I Could Only Get Back To Yesterday, Be Mine Today and The Puzzle Of Life. Each features the musical segment from the show windowboxed with large easily readable subtitles below, and a bouncing thematic cue to follow along with. A commercial for Pillsbury's cookie dough is also included, along with a store coupon which expires 5/31/02.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Although I'm a little disappointed with the audio restoration, I am quite happy with this delightful Animagic classic. Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a wonderful story, and with the added value materials here, deserves a place in any family video library along with the other specials from the Rankin/Bass library.

 


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