10 Things You Didn’t Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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In honor of the 1988 mostly-animated classic, we’ve dug up some of the most obscure Roger Rabbit trivia tidbits the world has to offer.

I won’t hear any argument: Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the greatest movie ever made. Even if you’re one of those idiots who thinks some shit like, I dunno, Citizen Kane is better, Roger Rabbit still has the additional appeal of being a jaw-dropping feat of practical effects movie magic as well as an unparalleled union of animated icons who’d never officially met before. Orson Welles just made a movie about a guy who wrote newspapers or something. Whatever, I assure you I’m right.

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I know a lot about the movie. Probably more than you do. Don’t feel challenged by that! I didn’t watch another movie until about 1991 and I sacrificed what could’ve been a healthy sex life obtaining all the following information. This knowledge came at a price, but I’m giving it to you for FREE. (Maybe buy the Roger Rabbit Blu-ray through our Amazon link or buy our full-length commentary should you choose to repay me.) Oh, I’m aware there are several other articles out there that know how to rewrite a Wikipedia page and proclaim to show you things “you didn’t know” but I assure you I’m about to show you some stuff you’ve probably never seen before. Let’s begin.

1. Jessica Rabbit’s CroTch Isn’t the Only Thing Censored From the Film

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Jessica Rabbit’s vajayjay is visible in a few frames of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I know you know this. I also hate that it’s the only thing Cracked-reading millennials know about Who Framed Roger Rabbit. But don’t get too excited. Even though it’s well known the scene has been altered, I think the legend that the animators did it intentionally is little more than myth (due to the area’s Barbie & Ken presentation). I’d argue that it’s more about what they didn’t draw than what they did, but as I mentioned earlier, I have no idea what a vagina looks like. Now, I could go on about how you can only see officially see this unaltered on the Laser Disc, or how the VHS release added panties and the DVD elongated the dress, but you’d probably rather just see the Hustler shot in high-res pictures, right? Go ahead, click here and here. See ya in five minutes.

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What you might not know about is the other little details that have been censored since the film’s theatrical release, and they get waaaaaay harder to defend as we go. Such as, say, Baby Herman flipping the bird as he takes a peek up a lady’s dress! More on middle fingers in a second, but yeah, as recently as the Blu-ray release you can see that Baby Herman’s middle finger has been painted over digitally.

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Even though I shrugged of Jessica’s crotch controversy as something animators left out rather than something a prankster cartoonist decided to add, there’s no justification on earth as to why they’d need to show Betty Boop’s nipples. Oh yes, this timeless ditzy icon’s headlights can briefly be seen as she adjusts her dress in the original cut of the film, and if anyone still cared about the character, I imagine we’d all be up in arms. Click here if you’d like to see a full image, ya perverts. Hope you like gray areola! My sincere apologies for this paragraph. I assure you we’ll give Boop a little more respect later.)

2. Bugs FlipS Mickey the Bird

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One of the reasons I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit the material is much racier than what most would expect from Mickey, Bugs, Woody Woodpecker, and their animated pals. Roger Rabbit prominently features guns, nutshots, drinking, smoking, sex… but hey, that’s the 1940s! Back then, Errol Flynn was a dashing hero on screen and a drunk, drug addicted, womanizer in the real world, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit is very much about what cartoon stars do in their downtime.

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However, Disney wasn’t as respectful to the period’s canon as I’m being, as the notoriously skittish company started demanding the filmmakers cut the more salacious moments from Roger Rabbit before it had even hit theaters (and even after that if you’ve read above.) The House of Mouse was (somewhat justifiably) super pushy about the depiction of their characters, and according to legend, the animators decided to take their revenge with little more than a single frame of animation. Blink and you’ll miss Bugs Bunny flipping Mickey the ol’ boid.

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Seems pretty consistent to their characters to me

Now… I’ve read differing accounts as to which company was behaving dickishly, whether it was Warner Bros. or Disney demanding equal screen time for Mickey and Bugs down to the millisecond second, but let’s be clear: Bugs is the one with his middle finger in the air and in the same frame Mickey is the one looking shocked. Looks like a “fuck you” to Disney to me! Whatever the case, the ink and paint prank was the was the work of animator Dave Spafford and very intentional according to this article, which you should totally read if you wanna know more about the stuff he failed to sneak in.

3. Betty Boop is Voiced by Her Original Voice Actor

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When last we wrote about Betty Boop, it was regarding a tangential relationship to an obscure Aladdin reference. But second time’s a charm, (or third time, if you count the part above where we showed her nipple up there), and I’ll at least show her a little more respect and remind you that Betty used to be a helluva lot more than the character on your girlfriend’s rear view air freshener.

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Betty Boop: Miraculously still a thing at Universal Studios

Max Fleisher unveiled Betty Boop in 1930 and although she’s remained an iconic, lite sex symbol for almost a century, her initial appearances relegated her to the role of a largely nameless, ditzy flapper character who played sidekick to Paramount’s more established cartoon stars (none of whom you’ve ever heard of, BTW.) As such, Fleisher didn’t see the need for a consistent voice actor for Boop’s first dozen or so appearances until discovering vaudeville impressionist Mae Questel.

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From Left: Questal, Bimbo, Boop, and Fleisher

Mae Questel voiced Betty Boop in ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY cartoons starting in 1931, and although Boop made scant appearances voiced by other actors after her theatrical series folded in 1939, Questel reprised her role in 1988 one final time for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, before her death the following year. More than anything I want you to know that adorably high-pitched voice lamenting the plight of black-and-white Toons in the Ink and Paint club came from the pipes of an 80-year-old woman. To help us transition to our next entry, Questel was also the original voice of Olive Oyl in another Fleisher cartoon series who’s main nautical character just so happened to debut in a Betty Boop cartoon? Any guesses?!

4. Popeye Was Supposed to Be in the Movie

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It’s difficult to overstate how much pull and power Stephen Spielberg had in the 1980s. From ET to Indiana Jones, to Star Wars and Back to the Future, his name was attached to several billion dollars of box office revenue. Every studio wanted to be in the Spielberg Beeswax, and the appearance of so many popular intellectual property in Roger Rabbit can be directly attributed to his negotiation clout, including the infamous tale of landing Looney Tunes characters from Warner Bros. for the ridiculously low cost of $5,000 dollars.

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But there were of course some studio holdouts, like say, Mighty Mouse and/or Tom & Jerry. However, the most notably absent cartoon character in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is undoubtedly Popeye the Sailor. Sadly, Popeye is the most famous to not appear in the film, which is all the more tragic once you know he was supposed to be there and even made it as far as the storyboarding stage.

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the most expensive movie ever made at the time, so there are plenty of ideas that hit the cutting room floor for various reasons, many budgetary, but a big one involved scenes and gags revolving around characters that could be problematic to obtain. Like this one you’re seeing now! Taking place at Marvin Acme’s funeral (you deserve to have his death spoiled at this point), Popeye and Bluto were to act as pallbearers in the scene and it largely hinged on a fight that breaks out between a shitload of beloved animated IP.

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The thought of Popeye punching Goofy and Elmer Fudd is enough to get this animation nerd physically aroused, but it would’ve also been a very expensive sequence (the movie rarely has more than two animated characters in any given scene) and it largely depended on Paramount (and King Features), a competing studio, playing ball.  Casper the Friendly Ghost was also supposed to appear as tag during the funeral sequence, though I’m aware no one really cares about Casper. This is Popeye’s entry!

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Wanna hear what Roger sounds like voiced by Pee-Wee Herman or what he looks like in a lost DuckTales cartoon? Head on over to the NEXT PAGE.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT
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By our full-length commentary on Bandcamp

15 thoughts on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit

  1. Disney did air that shitastic Sports Goofy (why was that his name?) during the 94 world cup while the soccer craze was at its peak here in the States. I remember being a kid and assuming that the voice actor was Alan Young, just sick or dying or something.

      1. Pretty sure it was Disney channel, either that or ABC was running it. It was made originally in what, 1987 or something? When the states got the world cup seven years later Disney just played it off like it was a brand new special. Fuggin’ “Sports Goofy” jesus christ.

  2. The only thing better then Chris talking about Cartoons is Chris Talking about Roger Rabbit (also one of my favorite movies). I didn’t know about any of this stuff before, great article.

  3. This is probably way to nit picky, but if Jessica Rabbit is a “human” cartoon than how come the grandma-character in the movie’s Rodger Rabbit cartoon is a real person? (who gets her skirt looked up).

    Great article Chris love how you’ve taken your late 2000’s vendetta against people complaining about article page lengths to the extreme by making a list, 2 different articles you MAGNIFICENT B-word you.

    1. First of all, the woman whose skirt gets looked up is just some random dame on the set.

      Second, you have no idea what a Maroon Cartoon contract looks like, let alone how hard life was for a Toon in the 1940s, so who are you to judge this poor animated woman just because she requires live-action stand-in legs for certain scenes? What if she was pregnant, man? IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?

      Third, thank you. It was all too easy to write over 4K words about Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I apologize for the final entry. A) It’s more than enough words to be its own article and it would’ve been its own page anyway, B) it’s an article I’ve always wanted to write, and C) I couldn’t think of a better 10th entry. Remember, I’m not a professional, just a fan.

  4. The Weasels entry I personally found really interesting, and also I can only assume that if you set a deadline for yourself Chris, then the article for entry 10 must already be done, or you did this in order to force yourself to finish by then.

  5. This is fucking amazing!!! I learned so much from this and I would like to consider myself someone who keeps up on this kind of thing (ie reads cartoon brew,and follows some animators on twitter which admittedly isn’t much ) I can’t believe popeye didn’t make it in, he would fit in so well with the universe especially with Betty being set up. The unmade video is insane, I’m glad they went with the character design they did for roger but honestly i like that Jessica a little more, she has a bit more sass and a little less sex appeal which I guess fits with the singer persona but whatever. Great article Chris, if Cartoon Christmas is no longer a thing I would love to see more of this sort of passion driven project.

  6. As someone who absolutely loves both Roger Rabbit AND the Fleischer Popeye cartoons, it pains me to think of how close we were go having him in the movie! I’d known he was cut, but never saw those storyboards before. Fantastic stuff!

    Also, the third Roger Rabbit book came out two or three years ago. It’s…better than the others maybe? But man, this is one movie that was way WAY better than the book!

  7. Good job, Chris. Popeye would have been a great cameo in the film. Also, I would love a print of that official art (with the water towers). It ‘s damn good.

  8. As a fellow millennial like you (sadly Chris, we’re both considered ones as the designation starts in 1980 to now… For some reason) I loved WFRR as a kid myself. It’s still a movie I regularly revisit on occasion. Hyper-cyber-fuck the NES game!

    And I knew most of these (the Pop-Eye one, Pee-Wee one and Cameos being the only ones I didn’t know.), but THE FACT THAT ROGER RABBIT HAS NOT BEEN REVISITED KILLS ME INSIDE!!!

    In today’s nostalgia-laden culture, the fact that ‘ol Roger hasn’t had a sequel movie yet is so depressing. But now, it would feel so lame, and between Zemekis and Spielberg being old bitches, I don’t think we’ll ever see another movie like this. And that makes me sad…

  9. Hey, they were 2 good roger rabbit videogames (sorta).

    Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle was originally a roger rabbit game for the famicom disk system in japan.

    And there was a GOOD roger rabbit on GB by CAPCOM!

  10. ” Questel reprised her role in 1988 one final time for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, before her death the following year.” She died in 1998 not 1989.

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