Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 American fantasy-comedy-mystery film directed by Robert Zemeckis and released by Touchstone Pictures. The film combines live action and animation, and is based on Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, depicting a world in which cartoon characters interact directly with human beings. Who Framed Roger Rabbit stars Bob Hoskins as a private detective who investigates a murder involving the famous cartoon character, Roger Rabbit. Charles Fleischer co-stars as the titular character's voice, Christopher Lloyd as the villain, Kathleen Turner as the voice of Roger's cartoon wife, and Joanna Cassidy as the detective's girlfriend.
|Directed by Robert Zemeckis|
Richard Williams (animation)
Produced by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Jeffrey Price
Peter S. Seaman
Based on Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf
Starring Bob Hoskins
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography by Dean Cundey
Editing by Arthur Schmidt
Studio Amblin Entertainment
Walt Disney Feature Animation
Silver Screen Partners III
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures
Release date June 22, 1988
Running time 104 minutes
Country United States
Budget $70 million
Gross revenue $329,803,958
Walt Disney Pictures purchased the film rights to the story in 1981. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote two drafts of the script before Disney brought Steven Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment to help finance the film. Zemeckis was hired to direct the live-action scenes with Richard Williams overseeing animation sequences. Production was moved from Los Angeles to Elstree Studios in England to accommodate Williams and his group of animators. While filming, the production budget began to rapidly expand and the shooting schedule lapsed longer than expected. However, the film was released with financial success and critical acclaim. Who Framed Roger Rabbit brought a re-emerging interest from the golden age of American animation and became the forefront for the modern era, especially the Disney Renaissance. It also left behind an impact that included a media franchise and the unproduced prequel, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit.
The story is a murder mystery set in 1947, in a surreal world where cartoon characters, commonly called "toons", are living beings who act out cartoons in the same way that human actors make live-action productions. Toons interact freely with humans and live in an area near Hollywood called Toontown. R. K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) is the human owner of Maroon Cartoon studios; Roger Rabbit is a fun-loving toon rabbit, one of Maroon's stars; Roger's wife Jessica is a gorgeous toon woman; and Baby Herman is Roger's costar, a 50-year-old toon who looks like an infant. Marvin Acme (Kaye) is the prank-loving owner of Toontown and the Acme Corporation.
The trouble begins when Maroon hires private detective Eddie Valiant (Hoskins) to investigate rumors that Jessica is having an affair. Eddie and his brother Teddy used to be friends of the toon community, but Eddie has hated them, and has been drinking heavily, since his brother Teddy was killed by a toon a few years earlier. When he shows Roger photographs of Jessica "cheating" on him by playing patty-cake with Acme, Roger becomes distraught and runs away. This makes him the main suspect when Acme is found murdered the next day. At the crime scene, Eddie meets Judge Doom (Lloyd) and his Toon Patrol of weasel henchmen. Although toons are impervious to physical abuse, Doom has discovered that they can be killed by dissolving in a mixture of paint thinners he calls "The Dip".
Baby Herman insists (correctly) that Acme's will, which is missing, bequeaths Toontown to the toons. If the will is not found by midnight, Toontown will be sold to Cloverleaf Industries, which recently bought the Pacific Electric system of trolley cars. After noticing the will in one of the patty-cake photographs, and after Roger shows up at his office protesting his innocence, Eddie investigates the case with help from his girlfriend Dolores (Cassidy) while hiding Roger from the Toon Patrol. Jessica tells Eddie that Maroon blackmailed her into compromising Acme, and Eddie learns that Maroon is selling his studio to Cloverleaf. Maroon explains to Eddie that Cloverleaf will not buy his studio unless they can also buy Acme's gag-making factory. His plan was to use the photos to blackmail Acme into selling. Before he can say more, he is shot dead by an unseen assassin and Eddie sees Jessica fleeing the scene. Believing she is the killer, Eddie pursues her into Toontown. When he finds her, she explains that Doom killed Maroon and Acme in an attempt to take over Toontown.
Eddie, Jessica, and Roger are captured by Doom and his weasels and held at the Acme Factory, where Doom reveals his plan: Since he owns Cloverleaf and Acme's will has yet to turn up, he will take control of Toontown and destroy it to make room for a freeway, then force people to use it by dismantling the trolley fleet. He has also built a mobile Dip sprayer with which he intends to wipe out the toon population. With Roger and Jessica tied up, Eddie performs a vaudeville act that makes the weasels literally die of laughter. In the climactic struggle between Eddie and Doom, Doom survives being run over by a steamroller, proving that he is a toon. He admits that he killed Teddy, and Eddie dissolves him in Dip by opening the drain on the Dip machine. As toons and the police arrive, Eddie discovers that an apparently blank piece of paper on which Roger wrote a love poem to Jessica is actually Acme's will written in disappearing/reappearing ink. Eddie gives Roger a big kiss, and the toons celebrate their victory.
List of Who Framed Roger Rabbit characters
- Bob Hoskins as Eddie Valiant, an alcoholic private investigator who holds a grudge against Toons. Five years earlier, a Toon killed Eddie's brother by dropping a piano on his head. Producer Steven Spielberg's first choice for Eddie Valiant was Harrison Ford, but Ford's price was too high. Bill Murray was also considered for the role, however due to his method of receiving offers for roles he missed out.
* Charles Fleischer provides the voice of Roger Rabbit, an A-list Toon working for Maroon Cartoons. Roger is framed for the murder of Marvin Acme. To facilitate Hoskins' performance, Fleischer dressed in a Roger bunny suit and "stood in" behind camera for most scenes. Animation director Richard Williams explained Roger Rabbit was a combination of "Tex Avery's cashew nut-shaped head, the swatch of red hair...like Droopy's, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit's overalls, Porky Pig's bow tie and Mickey Mouse's gloves." Fleischer also provides the voices of Benny the Cab and two members of Doom's Weasel Gang, Psycho and Greasy. Lou Hirsch, who supplied the voice for Baby Herman, was the original choice for Benny the Cab, but was replaced by Fleischer.
* Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom, the sadistic judge of Toontown District Superior Court and the primary antagonist of the film. It is eventually revealed that Doom is a Toon and is responsible for the deaths of Eddie's brother, Marvin Acme, and R. K. Maroon. Doom is killed when Eddie opens the drain on the Dip-spraying vehicle, releasing a torrent of dip that causes Doom to melt away. Lloyd was cast because he previously worked with director Robert Zemeckis and Amblin Entertainment in Back to the Future. Lloyd avoided blinking his eyes in order to perfectly portray the character.
* Kathleen Turner provides the voice of Jessica Rabbit, Roger Rabbit's stunningly beautiful Toon wife. She loves Roger because, as she says, "he makes me laugh." Amy Irving supplied the singing voice, while Betsy Brantley served as the stand-in.
* Joanna Cassidy as Dolores, Eddie's on-off girlfriend who works as a waitress and helps Eddie solve the case against Judge Doom.
* Alan Tilvern as R.K. Maroon, the short-tempered owner of "Maroon Cartoon" studios. Maroon hires Eddie to find out what is bothering Roger in his poor acting performances. He is eventually murdered by Judge Doom. This was Tilvern's final theatrical performance before his death.
* Stubby Kaye as Marvin Acme, prankster-like owner of the Acme Corporation. The scandal of Acme's patty-cake affair with Jessica Rabbit leads to his death.
* Lou Hirsch provides the voice of Baby Herman, Roger's middle-aged, cigar-chomping co-star in Maroon Cartoons. Williams said Baby Herman was a mixture of "Elmer Fudd and Tweety crashed together". April Winchell provides the voice of Mrs. Herman and the "baby noises".
Richard LeParmentier has a small role as Lt. Santino. Joel Silver makes a cameo appearance as the frustrated director at the beginning of the film. Archive sound of Frank Sinatra performing "Witchcraft" was used for the Singing Sword. In addition to Charles Fleischer, The Weasel gang voices were provided by David L. Lander, Fred Newman and June Foray. Mel Blanc provided the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig and Sylvester. This is the last film in which Blanc voiced these characters before his death in 1989, except for Daffy Duck in 1988 in Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. Joe Alaskey voiced Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn. Other voice work was provided by Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse, Tony Pope as The Big Bad Wolf and Goofy, Russi Taylor as the Birds and Minnie Mouse, Cherry Davis as Woody Woodpecker, Tony Anselmo as Donald Duck and Mae Questel as Betty Boop.
It is often noted that, despite her performance and trademark, sultry voice, Kathleen Turner is not listed in the closing credits as providing the speaking voice for Jessica Rabbit; however, Amy Irving is credited for her performance of Why Don't You Do Right?, as is Betsy Brantley for her performance model.
Walt Disney Pictures purchased the film rights to Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? shortly after its publication in 1981. Ron W. Miller, then president of The Walt Disney Company saw it as a perfect opportunity to produce a blockbuster. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman were hired to write the script, penning two drafts. Robert Zemeckis offered his services as director in 1982, but Disney acknowledged that his previous films (I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Used Cars) were box office bombs, and thus let him go. The project was revamped in 1985 by Michael Eisner, the then-new CEO of Disney. Amblin Entertainment, which consisted of Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, were approached to produce Who Framed Roger Rabbit alongside Disney. The original budget was projected at $50 million, which Disney felt was too expensive.
Roger Rabbit was finally greenlit when the budget went down to $29.9 million, which at the time, still made it the most expensive animated film ever greenlit. Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg argued that the hybrid of live action and animation would "save" Disney's animation department. Spielberg's contract included an extensive amount of creative control and a large percentage of the box office profits. Disney kept all merchandising rights. Spielberg convinced Warner Bros., Fleischer Studios, King Features Syndicate, Felix the Cat Productions, Turner Entertainment, and Universal Pictures/Walter Lantz Productions to "lend" their characters to appear in the film with (in some cases) stipulations on how those characters were portrayed; for example, Disney's Donald Duck and Warner's Daffy Duck appear as equally-talented dueling pianists, and Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny also share a scene. (Besides this agreement, Warner Bros. and the various other companies were not involved or participated in the production of Roger Rabbit.) However, Spielberg was not able to acquire the rights to use Popeye, Tom and Jerry, or the Terrytoons (except Mighty Mouse) for appearances from their respective owners (King Features, Turner, and Viacom). Terry Gilliam was offered the chance to direct, but he found the project too technically challenging. ("Pure laziness on my part," he later admitted, "I completely regret that decision.") Robert Zemeckis was hired to direct in 1985, based on the success of Romancing the Stone and Back to the Future. Richard Williams was hired to direct the animated sequences.
Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman were brought aboard to continue writing the script once Spielberg and Zemeckis were hired. For inspiration, the two writers studied the work of Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Cartoons from the Golden Age of American animation, especially Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. Chinatown influenced the storyline. The subplot involving "Cloverleaf" was the planned story for the third chapter of a Chinatown trilogy (the trilogy was abandoned following the failure of 1990's The Two Jakes). Price and Seaman said that "the Red Car plot, suburb expansion, urban and political corruption really did happen," Price stated. "In Los Angeles, during the 1940s, car and tire companies teamed up against the Pacific Electric Railway system and bought them out of business. Where the freeway runs in Los Angeles is where the Red Car used to be." In Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the Toons were comic strip characters rather than movie stars.
During the writing process, Price and Seaman were unsure of whom to include as antagonist. They wrote scripts that had either Jessica Rabbit or Baby Herman as the villain, but they made their final decision with newly-created character Judge Doom. Doom was supposed to have an animated vulture sit on his shoulder, but this was deleted for technical challenges. Doom's five-man "Weasel Gang" (Stupid, Smart Ass, Greasy, Wheezy and Psycho) satirizes the Seven Dwarfs (Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey) who appeared in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Further references included The "Ink and Paint Club" resembling the Harlem Cotton Club, while Zemeckis compared Judge Doom's invention of "The Dip" to eliminate all the Toons as Hitler's Final Solution Benny the Cab was first conceived to be a Volkswagen Beetle instead of a Taxicab. Before finally agreeing on Who Framed Roger Rabbit as the film's title, working titles included Murder in Toontown, Toons, Dead Toons Don't Pay Bills, The Toontown Trial, Trouble in Toontown and Eddie Goes To Toontown.
Animation director Richard Williams admitted he was "openly disdainful of the Disney bureaucracy" and refused to work in Los Angeles. To accommodate him and his animators, production was moved to Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. Disney and Spielberg also told Williams that in return for doing Roger Rabbit, they would help distribute his uncompleted film The Thief and the Cobbler. Supervising animators included Dale Baer, James Baxter, David Bowers, Andreas Deja, Chris Jenkins, Phil Nibbelink, Nik Ranieri and Simon Wells. The animation production, headed by associate producer Don Hahn, was split between Richard Williams' London studio and a studio in Los Angeles supervised by Dale Baer. The production budget continued to escalate while the shooting schedule lapsed longer than expected. When the budget was reaching $40 million, Disney president Michael Eisner heavily considered shutting down production, but Jeffrey Katzenberg talked him out of it. Despite the escalating budget, Disney moved forward on production because they were enthusiastic to work with Spielberg.
Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) threatens Roger Rabbit before introducing him to "The Dip". Mime artists, puppeteers, mannequins and robotic arms were commonly used during filming to help the actors interact with "open air and imaginative cartoon characters".
VistaVision cameras installed with motion control technology were used for the photography of the live-action scenes which would be composited with animation. Mime artists, puppeteers, mannequins and robotic arms were commonly used during filming to help the actors interact with "open air and imaginative cartoon characters". Many of the live-action props held by cartoon characters were shot on set and manipulated by strings, similar to a marionette. Filming began on December 5, 1986 and lasted for 7½ months at Elstree Studios, with an additional four weeks in Los Angeles and at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for blue screen effects of Toontown. Post-production lasted for one year, and during this time ILM finished the color compositing. Jessica's dress in the night club scene, for instance, had flashing sequins, an effect created by filtering light through a plastic bag scratched with steel wool. Regular Zemeckis collaborator Alan Silvestri composed the film score with the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO). Zemeckis joked that "the British could not keep up with Silvestri's jazz tempo". The music themes written for Jessica Rabbit were entirely improvised by the LSO. The work of Carl Stalling heavily influenced Silvestri's work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Michael Eisner, then CEO of The Walt Disney Company, complained Who Framed Roger Rabbit was too risqué with sexual innuendos. Eisner and Zemeckis disagreed over elements with the film, but since Zemeckis had final cut privilege, he refused to make alterations. Jeffrey Katzenberg felt it was appropriate to release the film under their Touchstone Pictures banner instead of the traditional Walt Disney banner. Who Framed Roger Rabbit opened on June 22, 1988 in America, grossing $11,226,239 in 1,045 theaters during its opening weekend. The film went on to gross $156.45 million in North America and $173.35 million internationally, coming to a worldwide total of $329.8 million. At the time of release, Roger Rabbit was the twentieth highest-grossing film of all time. The film was also the second highest grossing film of 1988, behind only Rain Man. As of 2010, it is currently the 35th highest grossing animated film of all time.
Home video releases
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was first released on VHS in October, 1989. A laserdisc edition was also released. A DVD version was first available on September 28, 1999. On March 25, 2003, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released it as a part of the "Vista Series" line in a two-disc collection with many extra features including a documentary: "Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit", a deleted scene: "The Pig Head Sequence", three cartoon shorts: "Tummy Trouble", "Rollercoaster Rabbit", and "Trail Mix-Up", as well as a booklet and interactive games.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a critical success and received positive reviews. Roger Ebert gave a positive review, predicting it would carry "the type of word of mouth that money can't buy. This movie is not only great entertainment but a breakthrough in craftsmanship." Janet Maslin of The New York Times commented that "although this isn't the first time that cartoon characters have shared the screen with live actors, it's the first time they've done it on their own terms and make it look real." Desson Thomson of The Washington Post considered Roger Rabbit to be "a definitive collaboration of pure talent. Zemeckis had Walt Disney Pictures' enthusiastic backing, producer Steven Spielberg's pull, Warner Bros.'s blessing, British animator Richard Williams' ink and paint, Mel Blanc's voice, Jeffrey Price's and Peter S. Seaman's witty, frenetic screenplay, George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic, and Bob Hoskins' comical performance as the burliest, shaggiest private eye."
However, Richard Corliss, writing for Time, gave a mixed review. "The opening cartoon works just fine, but too fine. The opening scene upstages the movie that emerges from it," he said. Corliss was mainly annoyed by the homages towards the Golden Age of American animation. Animation legend Chuck Jones made a rather scathing attack of the film in his book Chuck Jones Conversations. Among his complaints, Jones accused Robert Zemeckis of robbing Richard Williams of any creative input and ruining the piano duel that both he and Williams storyboarded.
Today, 43 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes indicated 98% of reviewers enjoyed the film, earning an average score of 8.2/10. The consensus reads: "Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an innovative and entertaining film that features a groundbreaking mix of live action and animation, with a touching and original story to boot." By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 83, based on 15 reviews.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit marks the first (and so far, only) animated/live action film to win four Academy Awards, also became the first animated film to win multiple Academy Awards since Pinocchio in 1940. It won Academy Awards for Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Film Editing. Nominations included Art Direction, Cinematography and Sound. Richard Williams received a Special Achievement Award "for animation direction and creation of the cartoon characters". Roger Rabbit won the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film, as well as Best Direction for Zemeckis and Special Visual Effects. Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd and Joanna Cassidy were nominated for their performances, while Alan Silvestri and the screenwriters received nominations. The film was nominated for four categories at the 42nd British Academy Film Awards and won an award for its visual effects. Roger Rabbit was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), while Hoskins was also nominated for his performance. The film also won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and Kids' Choice Award for Favorite Movie.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit marks the first (and so far, the only) time in animation history that Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny have appeared on screen together.
The success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit rekindled an interest in the golden Age of American animation, and sparked the modern animation scene. In 1991, Walt Disney Imagineering began to develop Mickey's Toontown for Disneyland, based on the Toontown that appeared in the film. The attraction also features a ride called Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. Three theatrical short cartoons were also produced. Tummy Trouble played in front of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Roller Coaster Rabbit was shown with Dick Tracy and Trail Mix-Up was included with A Far Off Place, all of which were Walt Disney's first theatrical shorts since Goofy's Freeway Trouble in 1965. The film also inspired a short-lived comic book and video game spin-offs, including a PC game, the Japanese version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (which features Roger instead of Bugs) and a 1989 game released on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
With the film's Laserdisc release, Variety first reported in March 1994 that observers uncovered several scenes of subliminal antics from the animators that supposedly featured brief nudity of the Jessica Rabbit character. While undetectable when played at the usual rate of 24 film frames per second, the Laserdisc player allowed the viewer to advance frame-by-frame to uncover these visuals. Whether or not they were actually intended to depict the nudity of the character remains unknown. Many retailers said that within minutes of the Laserdisc debut, their entire inventory was sold out. The run was fueled by media reports about the controversy, including stories on CNN and various newspapers. A Disney exec responded to Variety that "people need to get a life than to notice stuff like that. We were never aware of it, it was just a stupid gimmick the animators pulled on us and we didn't notice it. At the same time, people also need to develop a sense of humor with these things." Another frequently debated scene includes one where Baby Herman extends his middle finger as he passes under a woman's dress and re-emerges with drool on his lip.
Gary K. Wolf, author of the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, filed a lawsuit in 2001 against The Walt Disney Company. Wolf claimed he was owed royalties based on the value of "gross receipts" and merchandising sales. In 2002, the trial court in the case ruled that these only referred to actual cash receipts Disney collected and denied Wolf's claim. In its January 2004 ruling, the California Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that expert testimony introduced by Wolf regarding the customary use of "gross receipts" in the entertainment business could support a broader reading of the term. The ruling vacated the trial court's order in favor of Disney and remanded the case for further proceedings. In a March 2005 hearing, Wolf estimated he was owed $7 million. Disney's attorneys not only disputed the claim but said Wolf actually owed Disney $500,000–$1 million because of an accounting error discovered in preparing for the lawsuit.
With the critical and financial success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Walt Disney Pictures and Steven Spielberg felt it was obvious to plan a second installment. Nat Mauldin wrote a prequel titled Roger Rabbit: The Toon Platoon, set in 1941. Similar to the previous film, Toon Platoon featured many cameo appearances with characters from the golden Age of American animation. It began with Roger Rabbit's early years, living on a farm in the Midwestern United States. With human Richie Davenport, Roger travels west to seek his mother, in the process meeting Jessica Krupnick (his future wife), a struggling Hollywood actress. Jessica is kidnapped and forced to make pro-Nazi Germany broadcasts, thus Roger and Ritchie must save her by going into Nazi-occupied Europe. After their triumph, Roger and Ritchie are given a Hollywood Boulevard parade, and Roger is finally reunited with his mother, and father: Bugs Bunny. The film would have gone direct-to-video.
Mauldin later retitled the script Who Discovered Roger Rabbit. Spielberg left the project when deciding he could not satirize Nazis after directing Schindler's List. Michael Eisner commissioned a rewrite in 1997 with Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver. Although they kept Roger's search for his mother, Stoner and Oliver changed the story to Roger’s inadvertent rise to stardom on Broadway and Hollywood. Disney was impressed and Alan Menken was hired to write five songs for the film and offered his services as executive producer. One of the songs, "This Only Happens in the Movies", was recorded in 2008 on the debut album of Broadway actress Kerry Butler. Eric Goldberg was set to be the new animation director, and began to redesign Roger's new character appearance.
Spielberg had no interest with the project because he was establishing DreamWorks, although Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy decided to stay on as producers. Test footage for Who Discovered Roger Rabbit was shot sometime in 1998 at the Disney animation unit in Lake Buena Vista, Florida; the results were an unwieldy mix of CGI, traditional animation and live-action that did not please Disney. A second test had the Toons completely converted to CGI; but this was dropped as the film's projected budget escalated well past $100 million. Eisner felt it was best to cancel the film. In March 2003, producer Don Hahn said "don't expect a Roger Rabbit sequel anytime soon. Animation today is completely conquered by computers, and traditional animation just isn't the forefront anymore."
In December 2007, Marshall admitted he was still "open" to the idea, and in April 2009, Zemeckis revealed he was still interested. It is said that the original writers, Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman are currently writing a new script for the project. It is also said that the cartoon characters will be in traditional 2D, while the rest will be in performance capture. However, in 2010, Zemeckis said that the sequel will remain 2D and live-action sequences will be filmed, just like in the original film. Also in 2010, Don Hahn, who was the film's original associate producer, confirmed the sequel's development in an interview with Empire magazine. He stated, "Yeah, I couldn’t possibly comment. I deny completely, but yeah… if you’re a fan, pretty soon you’re going to be super happy.”
One of the themes in the film pertains to the dismantling of public transportation systems by private companies who would profit from an automobile transportation system and freeway infrastructure. Near the end of the film, Judge Doom reveals his plot to destroy Toon Town to make way for the new freeway system. This is an indirect historical reference to the dismantling of public transportation trolley lines by National City Lines during the 1930s in what is also known as the Great American streetcar scandal. The name of Doom's company, Cloverleaf Industries, is a reference to a common freeway-ramp configuration—an image of which was prominently displayed in the opening credit sequence of The Wonderful World of Disney. The assertion that a conspiracy caused the demise of electric urban street railways was the subject of a session at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board entitled Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Conspiracy Theories and Transportation, which concluded that such systems met their demise for reasons having nothing to do with a conspiracy, even as National City Lines, Inc. (NCL), was a front company — organized by GM's Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. in 1922, reorganized in 1936 into a holding company — for the express purpose of acquiring local transit systems throughout the United States. "Once [NCL] purchased a transit company, electric trolley service was immediately discontinued, the tracks quickly pulled up, the wires dismantled ...", and GM buses replaced the trolleys.