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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.