Who Framed Roger Rabbit is, of course, a classic. The live-action/animation hybrid began life as a (much darker) novel by Gary K. Wolf, Who Censored Roger Rabbit, and had a long journey to the screen (they snapped up the rights shortly after the novel was published) before director Robert Zemeckis ultimately struck box-office gold. Animator Darrell Van Citters was once set to helm the flick, and courtesy of this article from The Dissolve we can get a look at what this lost version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit might have been.
Once upon a time, in the early days of the Disney Channel, there was a show called Disney Showcase, which may or may not exist in the haziest areas of my memory. It’s through a VHS to YouTube segment of this show, as found and restored by Garrett Gilchrist, that you can check out this lost, very different early version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Check it out:
Even here, you can see how the animators were working hard to get the curious live action and animation hybrid right. And yes, that’s Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens as the voice of Roger. Keep in mind, at the time of this footage, Reubens’ Pee-wee Herman character was far from the household name he would become later in the 1980s. It’s also worth noting that in the early ’80s, Disney was still very much in a more exploratory period, and much happier to greenlight edgier, darker projects for a few years. We can speculate whether or not this version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit would have had any of those sensibilities, as the book it was adapted from was considerably darker than the film we ultimately saw on screen in 1988.
Maybe some day more of these early Who Framed Roger Rabbit animation and footage tests will surface, and even in better quality.