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Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Forget the big-name actors in movies like Around the World in 80 DaysMurder on the Orient Express and Mars Attacks!

Here’s the real all-star cast: Mickey, Bugs, Donald, Daffy, Goofy, Yosemite Sam, Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker, Droopy and more, along with a long-eared newcomer named Roger. . .

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? not only boasted the most impressive cartoon lineup in movie history, it was a groundbreaking achievement in mixing those toon actors with live-action stars like Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd. It also happened to be more fun than you can shake a portable hole at.

rogerrabbit_021Like any good movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? begins with a short cartoon – Somethin’s Cookin’. Manic bunny Roger Rabbit is left in charge of adorable Baby Herman, who gets into one dangerous situation after another.

Roger risks life and furry limb to protect his charge, but when a refrigerator falls on his head and a flock of bluebirds circle his noggin, it’s the last straw.

Live-action human director Raoul J. Raoul shouts, “Cut!” and a now foul-mouthed and cigar-smoking Baby Herman complains that Roger’s blowing his lines (he was supposed to see stars, not birds), and Roger is threatened with being fired.

It’s Hollywood, 1947, and in an upstairs office at Maroon Cartoons, studio honcho R.K. Maroon hires detective Eddie Valiant on a job.

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Roger’s been distracted by his shapely cartoon wife Jessica, and Maroon thinks she’s been “playing pattycake” with gag tycoon Marvin Acme.

Eddie hates toons (one killed his brother), but he needs the cash. Over at the Ink and Paint Club – where Betty Boop is a cigarette girl and Donald and Daffy Duck wage a war of duelling pianos – Eddie gets photos of Jessica’s pattycake affair.

Roger is crushed by the photos, and the next morning Marvin Acme turns up dead.

Naturally, Roger is the chief suspect, and creepy lawman Judge Doom promises to find him and throw him in the “Dip” – a combination of turpentine, acetone and benzene, the only way to kill a toon.

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A panicked Roger forces Eddie to take his case, and the two set out to unravel a complex plot involving L.A’s planned freeway system, a mysterious will, and the neighbouring world of Toontown, home to cartoon characters great and small.

Simply put, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was unlike any film the world had ever seen.

Not only was the technique first rate – cartoons cast shadows, carried real silver trays, spat real water, etc. – but the story, based on Gary K. Wolf’s novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, was a unique blend of 1940s film noir with the classic cartoons of the same decade.

The film itself was the result of an unprecedented collaborative effort. Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) got directing credit, but Richard Williams’ animation direction (which won a special Oscar) was just as vital.

Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman adapted the novel to the screen, adding non-stop gags, one-liners and inside jokes, while executive producer Steven Spielberg personally helped arrange the teaming of Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, MGM and Universal cartoon characters, a potential legal nightmare.

rogerrabbit_025Of course, none of this mattered to the kids in the cinemas, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? knew it.

The movie never let its innovation spoil its fun.

Fast, funny and filled with recognisable faces, the film was a young moviegoer’s dream come true, and it was family entertainment in the best sense of the word.

As the critics praised the movie’s genius, children of all ages made Who Framed Roger Rabbit? one of the biggest hits of the year.

Roger himself became a Disney cartoon star in his own right, appearing in shorts before movies like Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and Dick Tracy (1990), staking a claim to join his A-list co-stars in the Toontown Hall of Fame.

Eddie Valiant
Bob Hoskins
Judge Doom

Christopher Lloyd
Dolores

Joanna Cassidy
Roger Rabbit

Charles Fleischer
Benny the Cab

Charles Fleischer
Greasy

Charles Fleischer
Psycho

Charles Fleischer
Marvin Acme

Stubby Kaye
R.K. Maroon

Alan Tilvern
Lt. Santino

Richard Le Parmentier
Baby Herman

Lou Hirsch
Jessica Rabbit

Kathleen Turner
Jessica Rabbit (singing)

Amy Irving
Raoul J. Raoul

Joel Silver
Augie

Paul Springer
Angelo

Richard Ridings
Stretch

Mike Edmonds
Soldier

Lindsay Holiday
Editor

Morgan Deare
Bongo the Gorilla

Morgan Deare
Teddy Valiant

Eugene Guirterrez
Mrs. Herman

April Winchell
Betty Boop

Mae Questel
Bugs Bunny

Mel Blanc
Daffy Duck

Mel Blanc
Porky Pig

Mel Blanc
Sylvester

Mel Blanc
Tweety

Mel Blanc
Donald Duck

Tony Anselmo
Yosemite Sam

Joe Alaskey
Mickey Mouse 

Wayne Allwine
Minnie Mouse

Russi Taylor
Goofy

Tony Pope
Pinocchio

Peter Westy
Woody Woodpecker

Cherry Davis
Lena Hyena

June Foray
Droopy

Richard Williams
Singing Sword

Frank Sinatra

Director
Robert Zemeckis