Copyright 1997 by George Zadorozny.

A great man named Romeo Muller wrote the celebrated animated Christmas films "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town," among many others.

Romeo also wrote a trio of wonderful Eastertime films. They are:

  • Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971; narrated by Danny Kaye)
  • The Easter Bunny Is Comin to Town (1977; narrated by Fred Astaire)
  • Peter and the Magic Egg (1983; narrated by Ray Bolger)

"Here Comes Peter Cottontail" tells the story of how the old Easter Bunny chose Peter to be his successor. But by trickery that exploits Peter's weaknesses, the villainous Irontail (voiced magnificently by Vincent Price) becomes the new Easter Bunny instead. Irontail's twisted edicts are untraditional indeed: "And from this time forward, all Easter eggs shall be colored the shade of mud, and new concrete! Instead of chocolate bunnies and chicks, I commission the candy sculptors to make tarantulas and octopuses! And I hereby declare an end to Easter bonnets. From now on there will only be Easter galoshes!" Peter's amazing attempt to redeem himself and defeat Irontail most imaginatively rounds out this sparkling tale, which manages to most nimbly encompass all the year's major holidays!

"The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town" recounts the origin of the Easter Bunny according to Romeo Muller, that is! This film is something of a companion piece to "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" (1970), also written by Romeo and also narrated by Fred Astaire.

Both films are delightful and edifying all at once a combination that is a hallmark of Romeo's films.

"Peter and the Magic Egg" is the most delicately magical of Romeo's Easter trio. In it, Uncle Amos, an egg with a Pennsylvanian Dutch accent (voiced by the immortal Ray Bolger) tells the story of the terrible Tobias Tinwhiskers, who not only mechanized his farm, but also had himself turned into a robot, intent on driving his unmechanized neighbour farmers out of business. How Mother Nature intervened to save one farm via the gift of a magical boy named Peter Paas, and how Tobias wreaked his vengeance on Peter, and how all is resolved most astonishingly, is told in the rest of this superb tale. (The name Peter Paas is a surefire clue that the Paas egg-coloring company sponsored this film. But take heart Romeo in no way allowed that sponsorship to undo the artistic integrity of this story. It is splendid, poetic, and sublime.)

George Zadorozny



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