|Directed by:|| Jules Bass|
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
|Written by:||Romeo Muller|
|Music by:||Maury Laws|
|Narrated by:||Fred Astaire (as S. D. Kluger)|
|Release date:||April 6, 1977|
|Running time:||50 minutes|
|Related specials:||Santa Claus is Comin' to Town|
The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town is a 1977 Easter-themed stop-motion animated special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. Originally aired on ABC on April 6, 1977 at 8 p.m., its plot is
a rehash of very similar to that of Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, with Fred Astaire reprising his role as S. D. Kluger, the mailman who returns as the narrator.
S.D. Kluger returns as a train engineer, but still a mailman, to answer questions concerning the origins of the Easter Bunny while reading the children's letters.
The story begins in the small town of Kidville, run by all children located on the other side of Big Rock Mountain. The children enjoy the simple life, despite being bothered by Gadzooks the Bear who hates everything to do with the holidays. One Easter morning, they find an orphaned baby rabbit, raise him as their own, and name him Sunny when they notice how much he likes the warm sun. Sunny (voiced by Skip Hinnant), now one year old, makes plans with the children to get what they make to the outside world for what they need in exchange, including their eggs, with help from three chickens called the Hendrew Sisters. One year later, Sunny sets off to deliver his eggs. Along the way, he meets a friendly hobo named Hallelujah Jones, who suggests to him that he could sell his eggs in a town called Town. However, upon climbing Big Rock Mountain, Sunny runs into Gadzooks who steals his eggs. Sunny makes it to Town, which is a gloomy, dismal town and if any children are born there, the whole family has to move away, under the laws of seven-year-old King Bruce the Frail (voiced by James Spies) and his aunt, the Dowager Duchess Lily Longtooth, who actually rules the whole town. One of her laws is that beans are the only food everyone has to eat. Bruce complains about not wanting to be king and be a normal child, despite his aunt's objections.
Saddened by this, Sunny heads back to Kidville and explains his problem. Hallelujah dips the eggs in various bowls of paint as a way to trick Gadzooks. He lies to the bear, saying he is on his way to sell colored stones as paperweights. Gadzooks, befuddled by Sunny's lie, lets him go, demanding to bring him eggs. Sunny makes it into Town again, passing out his eggs to all the townspeople, including King Bruce, who crowns him the Easter Bunny, Royal Knight of the Rainbow Eggs and he and Sunny hold a traditional ritual of eating the eggs. However, Lily, disappointed in her nephew, chases Sunny out, outlaws eggs, and sends him to bed without supper. Sunny apologizes for his problem, which Bruce thought his supper would be more beans. Sunny, however, promises to bring him very special beans next Easter. The following year, Sunny and Hallelujah make the first Easter jelly beans. However, upon their way to Town to deliver them, Gadzooks, still angered by Sunny's lie, thinking his eggs are colored stones again, flings them far, far away. All hope seems lost until all the other children hunt the eggs up in bushes and trees, to which Sunny realizes that he'll always hide them. Next Easter, Sunny sets out, only to get caught by Gadzooks, who chases him to Kidville, where everybody has all pitched in to make him a brand new Easter outfit made by the Kidville tailors. This melts the bear's heart and he becomes friends with everyone after learning how to love himself before others can.
Meanwhile back in Town, the Town townspeople quickly grow interested in the Easter eggs Sunny hides, King Bruce and the other servants enjoy the jelly beans, and the children are loved by all the townspeople. But Lily, outraged at all the celebrating, sends her guards out to arrest them, but Sunny and the children promise to return next year. Next Easter, Sunny has the candy maker concoct a secret weapon of his own for their next visit to Town. Hallelujah suggests Sunny should do something for King Bruce to stand up to Lily. Sunny takes his idea to the Kidville seamstress and pillow makers. On their next visit to Town, after causing the guards to trip on the rolling Easter eggs, Sunny hops into a paper bag, where the guards discover that they captured a chocolate bunny, thus being let into Town where Sunny brings Bruce stuffed animals from the Kidville seamstresses and pillow makers to give him courage every night when he is lonely. Bruce wishes Sunny could come to Town next Easter, but Sunny explains that he might have to sneak in and can't bring too much. Just as Bruce is about to give him permission to come to Town whenever he wants, Lily arrives to stop him. Bruce, about to take a stand, denies Sunny's words of wisdom.
The following year, Sunny and friends plan to have Gadzooks help them bring all the Easter treats to Town. However, Lily's guards hold out a long rope, causing the bear to trip and break his leg. Everyone is saddened that Gadzooks can't help, but Hallelujah suggests that they build a railroad from Kidville to Town which leads over Big Rock Mountain. After the railroad is built, Sunny and his friends go to the trainyard to hire a train to carry all the goods. However, since the big engines in the roundhouse are too important to help, they find a small switch engine named Chugs, all rusty after being put down for years, hire him, and give him a new paint job. Meanwhile, Lily orders her guards to do anything they can to stop the train from getting to Town. They spread melted butter on the rails, causing Chugs to slip, but Hallelujah pours jelly beans on the butter, providing extra traction and causing them to escape, thus causing Lily's plan to fail. Soon after, they all make it to Town, where everyone is happy to be celebrating. But Lily is upset, thinking Bruce will banish her forever. However, he and Sunny give her an Easter flower named after her, called a lily. Lily, overjoyed and proud of her nephew, decides to join the celebration with Sunny and all the residents of Kidville and Town, including S.D. Kluger who concludes the special, singing a shortened version of "The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town Today."
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