Who framed Roger Rabbit?

A stunned Bob Hoskins looks at the beautiful 'toon' Jessica Rabbit to his right
A stunned Bob Hoskins looks at the beautiful 'toon' Jessica Rabbit to his right

Image via parade.condenast.com

One of my fondest childhood cartoons is not your usual Sleeping Beauty, or even the 90s classic Fairly Odd Parents (although both are undeniably fantastic), I actually have fond memories of watching the 1988 classic Who framed Roger Rabbit on an old video tape over and over.

Who framed Roger Rabbit is a fantasy comedy film, part live action, part animated ‘toons’. Starring the late Bob Hoskins alongside Christopher Lloyd as well as Donald Duck, Betty Boop and Tweety Bird. In the 1947 alternate reality cartoon characters are living beings and spend their time recording TV shows just as human actors do (see below).


Bob Hoskins stars as Eddie Valiant; a heavy drinker who resents toons since his brother, Teddy, was killed when a toon dropped a piano on them. He is reluctantly hired to investigate rumours that Jessica Rabbit is having an affair with Acme. Roger Rabbit, Jessica’s partner, is distraught when he sees Valiant’s photographs of Jessica playing ‘patty-cake’ with Acme. He runs away which makes him prime suspect when Acme is found murdered the following day.

The rest of the film follow Eddie, Roger and Jessica trying to find the real killer along with Acme’s will which is believed to leave Toontown to the toons – otherwise it will be sold to Cloverleaf Industries. All while trying to steer clear of Jude Doom (Christopher Lloyd) and his toon disolving‘Dip’.

It’s an interesting mixture of comedy and action; entertaining as a child but equally as interesting when watching a decade later (especially seeing as you now understand the adult references).

Produced by Walt Disney Studios in Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, the live action for Who framed Roger Rabbit was of course filmed without the cartoons and took seven months. To overcome the issue of toons realistically interacting with live action props, the makers of the film used motion control machines operated to move the props in the desired way. Sometimes the same effect was achieved using string.

Full sized rubber models of Roger Rabbit were used during filming so that the actors could understand how large their co-star was. Betsy Brantley stood in for Jessica Rabbit during filming, you can see her in Jessica’s performance scene in the picture below. She was removed in post-production using a split-screen device and then animation was drawn on top.

A young woman (Betsy) stands in the spotlight in a dim bar, performing as Jessica Rabbit, her male co-stars stare in awe

Image via www.tested.com

Animation was led by Richard Williams and married with the live action in post-production. The process took 14 months and was done using cels (transparent sheets on which are hand-drawn animations are drawn) and optical compositing. The animators would draw on animation paper over black and white prints of the live action scenes.

This film is a classic and a must see; a comedy that never tires and my favourite performance from the late Bob Hoskins.

Audrey Hepburn’s on screen wardrobe

Collage of three photos of Audrey Hepburn wearing her infamous little black dress, one from the side, one portrait and one full length from the front.
Collage of three photos of Audrey Hepburn wearing her infamous little black dress, one from the side, one portrait and one full length from the front.

Images via vintagehandbook.wordpress.com, chicvintagebrides.com and davidlatta.org

Audrey Hepburn has long been a favourite actress of mine; my love of vintage film paired with my adoration of fashion and costume in film makes Hepburn, one of Hollywood’s most glamorous starlets an obvious icon.

Not only a pretty face Hepburn was a humanitarian and an appointed Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for were work with UNNICEF and posthumously awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitatian Award.

Hepburn is an inspiration for many reasons, but she is remembered by most as an icon of classic film, alongside greats such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Her striking appearance meant that she was adored by designers and in her film career she wore some stunning costume.

Her most infamous piece is by far the original ‘little black dress’ she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as Holly Golightly. The floor length Italian satin sheath gown was designed by Hubert de Givenchy who worked with Hepburn on several films. The dress is gathered at the waist and includes a cut out detail back, interestingly the dress was originally designed shorter but was considered to show too much leg and was the lower half was redesigned by costume designer Edith Head.

Although the dress is undeniably iconic and has been reproduced and reimagined a hundred times over, the accessories are arguably just as infamous. The dress was paired with extravagant jewellery, a glittering tiara and several heavy strings of pearls worn around the neck. Hepburn also wore a long pair of black gloves in which she held an oversized cigarette holder.

The ‘little black dress’ was sold at auction in 2006 for £467,200, several times its estimate. This was the highest price ever paid for a dress in film until Marilyn Monroe’s infamous Seven Year Itch ‘subway dress’ was sold for over $4 million.

I couldn’t discuss Hepburn Hepburn’s on screen wardrobe without mentioning her costume in Funny Face. Hepburn portrays ‘Jo’, a shy book shop clerk, whisked along by fashion editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) as an amateur model.

Again Hepburn gowns were custom designed by Givenchy, she is quoted as saying “His [Givenchy] are the only clothes in which I am myself”. Givenchy designed several exquisite gowns for the film but two of my favourites are the strapless red chiffon gown that Hepburn wears running down the steps of the Louvre and the beautiful 1950s wedding dress with a boat neckline and huge ballerina skirt. Hepburn wears the wedding dress in a lovely scene with Fred Astaire, where the pair sing He loves and she loves.

Audrey Hepburn strikes a dramatic jumping pose wearing an all black outfit

Image via www.lemonandlace.com

Arguably less impressive but probably more Hepburn’s style is the black outfit she wears as Jo, visiting French jazz bars. A simple black turtle neck paired with cropped black trousers have never looked so chic. They perfectly define Hepburn’s sleek gamine figure.

This week in history 31st March – 5th April

A black and white photograph of Sherlock Homes, watson and Beryl Stapleton look intently through a magnifying glass that Holmes holds towards the floor
A black and white photograph of Sherlock Homes, watson and Beryl Stapleton look intently through a magnifying glass that Holmes holds towards the floor

Image via derekwinnert.com

This week marks the 1939 release of of 20th Century Fox’s The Hound of the Baskervilles on March 31st. The Sherlock Holmes adaptation starred Richard Greene as Sir Henry Baskerville, Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson and Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes.

The film was a hit and Rathbone and Bruce wet on to star in a total of 14 films based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective novels. Rathbone and Bruce were also hired to play Holmes and Watson on the radio series “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”.

In 1975 The Hound of the Baskervilles was resored and re-released to theatres. It was a success and was even covered in the national evening news.

On March 31st 54 years after the release of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1993, Brandon Bruce Lee was unfortunately killed on set while filming The Crow. 

The 28 year old actor was the son of martial arts film star Bruce Lee and had appeared in a handful of action films. He landed the lead role of Eric Draven in the film adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic book series The Crow. 

Lee died when he was accidentally shot while filming. A revolver containing dummy cartridges created by the props crew was used in a scene. Unintentionally, the percussion primer was left in place on one of these bullets and when the gun was discharged and the bullet unknowingly moved into the barrel.

When this revolver was later fired at Lee from a short distance, the dummy cartridges were replaced with blanks and when these were fired the dummy bullet already in the barrel was fired fatally striking Lee in the abdomen.

Video footage of Lee’s death was used as evidence in the following investigation then later destroyed as part of the lawsuit settlement after the shooting was ruled an accident.

The Bechdel Test Applied

A black and white comic strip featuring two female characters going to see a film

Two weeks ago I looked at The Bechdel Test. A set of standards which aim to determine whether works of fiction are gender biased. The three requirements are as follows: the work must feature at least two named female characters, who talk to each other about something besides a male character.

Let’s apply the Bechdel test to a few of the nominees for this year’s Oscars Best Film Award.

Firstly, American Hustle. Two of the main characters are women, Sydney Prosser or Edith (Amy Adams) and Rosalyn Rosenfeld (Jennifer Lawrence). Both are strong female characters although Jennifer Lawrence’s role is mostly as Irving Rosenfeld’s wife. They do talk to each other in a scene in the second half of the film, in a conflict where they argue over Irving. They also briefly mention their favourite nail polishes, so technically this does pass the test, but not with flying colours.

12 Years a Slave is another nominee, including a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o who plays Patsy in the film. There are a few female characters in the film, Anne Northup (Kelsey Scott), Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson) is Edwin Epps’ (Michael fassbender) wife, and then Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o). Patsey and Mistress Epps feature in scenes together but only speak when Mistress Epps offers every slave some biscuits save Patsey “there’ll be none for you”.

There is also a scene in the film where Patsey has afternoon tea with Phebe (Deneen Tyler) but the audience does not witness any conversation between the two until Solomon turns up and then Solomon discusses Master Edwin Epps with Phebe and his affection for Patsey. So 12 Years a Slave, this year’s Oscar Best Film winner, does not pass the Bechdel test.

Of the nine Best Film nominees, four pass the test, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska and Philomena. The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave do not feature two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. Gravity is exempt as it starts only two main characters, Ryan Stone – the female lead and Matt Kowalski. It’s interesting to note that all of the five nominated best directors were also men.

This reflects film on a larger scale too, for the last ten years, films that have failed the test have earned on average a higher gross.

Events, offers and releases 24/03/14

A bedraggled but fierce Russel Crowe runs towards camera as Noah

First up is the latest Marvel instalment in the form of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, starring Chris Evans (Steve Rogers) alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Cobie Smulders.

It’s the second Captain America instalment in the series of Marvel films following the first back in 2011 which ended showing Rogers waking up in the 21st century after he had been unconscious and frozen for seven decades after crashing a plane into a glacier at the climax of the first film. Although Rogers featured in The Avengers his struggle to adapt to modern surroundings was only touched on.

The Winter Soldier sees Rogers battling ‘a new threat from old history’ known as the Winter Soldier. Out on Friday March 28th, it’s a must see for any Marvel fan or anybody looking for some high quality action. See the trailer below.

If you’re looking for something lighter at the cinema, The Muppets Most Wanted is also released this Friday. Alongside Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy star several famous faces; Rickey Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey.

The Muppets are on a grand world tour but find themselves caught up in a European jewel-heist masterminded by a Kermit lookalike. Check out the below trailer if you fancy some puppet comedy-action.

If you’re in the London area and love classic films then why not take a trip to Shaker & Company in Hamstead Road. Tonight they’re hosting a Cocktail Cinema Club and showing Casablanca. The event runs from 5-11pm and you can buy two pizzas and two cocktails for £20