The film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" was actually based on a novel, written by acclaimed crime author James Ellroy, who has also penned LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, and American Tabloid. Below is an excerpt from the original version of the book, before it was adapted for a children's movie.
10:48 PM. Dark. Late. Couldn’t sleep. Nerves shot to shit. Bad dreams. Visions of red eyes, a piano, my brother in a pool of blood. That was the last time I was in Toon Town. Until tonight.
I was at Porky’s Diner, scarfing late dinner of Franks and Beans. Porky came in. “Youbida youbda youbida There’s a call for you Mr. Vailiant.” Grabbed the phone. Lt. Jack Santino on the line, slipped me the skinny. 187 on South Arden, Mickey Park.
My voice into the receiver. “Forget it Jack. It’s Toon Town.”
Santino, apologetic, pleading. “Look Valiant, I know you don’t come around here anymore. We all loved Teddy but-”
Cut him off quick. “Don’t say his name.”
Silence. Dead air.
“Like I said,” Santino resuming. “We were all shocked by it.” Silence. Tick tick tick. Seconds, a minute.
My move. “What’s this about Santino?”
“This 187 Eddie. It’s pretty burtal.”
“So call Sid Reigle. He loves Gore jobs.”
“No. It has to be YOU. I think you’ll want to see this. You might take a...special interest.”
Clicks. Things making sense.
“You think this has something to do with Teddy?” I said.
“I thought you said we couldn’t say his name.”
“I said YOU couldn’t”
11:03 PM. Toon Town. An out of place Tudor mansion. Black and White cruisers out front. About 30 bluesuits crowded around. A group of Toon mice were playing dice in the gutter. As I pulled up, they grabbed the money and scurried.
Pop the glove box. Wild Turkey. Half pint. 2 shots quick. Warm tingles. Ready now to look.
I badged my way in. No one stopped me. A crowd was forming. Blue suits creating a barricade, keeping out peepers, pushers, pimps, prowlers, panty sniffers, goons, loons and fumin’ toons. Big wide eyes, jaws LITERALLY on the floor, trying to scope what’s hot.
Walk to the courtyard. The smell hit me first. Blood stench. Round the corner. Then I saw it.
Blood. Bone. Flesh. All a twisted mess. The shattered remains of a piano strewn about.
Dizzy. Flashbacks. 1942. My leg pinned under a baby grand. Teddy’s head split in half. Him, looking at me.
Now. Again. Toon perp written all over this mess. Same brand of baby grand. Crossed wires.
“See why I called you?” Santino stepping over black keys.
“See why I hate this fucking place?” I replied. “What do we got?”
Santino, cold and hard. “Piano dropped from about 80 feet. It was being held up by a big roper. We figured the victim walked onto this giant bull’s eye target, then the killer snipped the rope. We found oversized scissors over by the anvil shed. The tech boys’re dustin’ ‘em for prints”
My reply “Did the piano linger in the air for a few seconds before crashing down?”
Santino, right back at me. “Yup.” Silence. “You think it’s the same guy?”
“ I think a lot of things. I think Toon Town’s a shit hole filled with soulless animated goofs who should all go back to where they came from. I think whoever wanted this guy dead wanted it bad cuz you don’t drop a piano on a guy for chump change. And I think I’m too close to this.”
I eyedballed the corpse. Knotted flesh, river of blood Nice suit, what was left of it. Slashed up with piano wire. Giant wood shards protruding from the skin. Piano keys jammed in the mouth where the teeth should be. Dental identification impossible. The vic looked like he was smiling.
Satino, thinking out loud. “You see this kinda shit in the movies all the time, they never show what it’s really like.”
“Who’s the stiff?” I said.
“Dig this. Marvin. Acme.”
“The Toon mogul? Jesus fuck. The scandal sheets are gonna have a fucking field day with this.”
Black. White. Red all over.
2:15 PM. The Honeymoon Hotel. No sleep. My eyes burned. I checked my coat. Sap. Brass knuckles. .45 revolver. Tools for a strong arm job.
Roger eyed me. “Follow my lead. Go easy on him. He used to be my partner.”
No words. Just a nod.
Door open. Enter. Dig. Baby Herman sitting in a chair, right arm handcuffed to the chair leg, left hand cradling a giant cigar.
“Roger! My lagamorphic friend. It’s been a dog’s age.” This 37 year old boob fiend. A righteous perv in a bonnet and a diaper.
“It’s been a while Herman. How’s the wife?”
“She left me when she caught me feeding off another woman. What can I say, I’m a slave to y dinky. Who’s your friend here?”
“This is Eddie-”
“My names Eddie Valiant. But you can call me ‘Go Fuck Yourself,’”
“Geez, short fuse. Valiant. I know that name. Weren’t you that hero cop who’s brother-”
Quick smack across the eyes, Baby Herman caught air, shut up fast.
Roger: “My colleague will be...assisting me with y questions. Remember Herman. I’M your friend. HE’S not.”
Herman: “Jesus, ok.” Already sweating. “My stogie went out, can you help me with a light old friend?”
Roger lit the cigar. Baby Herman puffed. I breathed fumes.
Herman: “Thanks pal. So what’s this all about”
Roger: “Unions. Blackmail. Marvin Acme.”
Herman: “Yea. I heard it, uh...rained pianos on him.”
Roger: “Yea. And I’m A Number One bait for the blues cuz of beef I had with him.”
Herman: “Whattsa matta Roger? Did Acme stiff you on your contract, or did he stiff something else?”
Roger signaled. Two fingers on his bowtie. Hit him. I landed two body shots quick. Baby Herman coughed, spat boogers.
Roger: “I think you know what happened, so cut the act shitbird.”
Herman: “Fuck, Ok Roger. Just put a leash on your dog”
Hand over fist signal. Lay off him.
Roger: “A scandal rag, Pen and Ink, hired Eddie here to snap pics of the missus in a...compromising situation.”
Hand on tie. I kicked his knee caps. The chair rocked.
Roger: “And...given your connections to Sid Hudgens, and the tabloids, we believe you know who called the job.”
I Blurted out. “Who really wanted the pics?”
Herman, cool as a cucumber. “I did. I wanted to look at them and imagine Jessica as my own private wet nurse.”
I cracked. Brass knucks. Swift punches to the stomach and back. Roger waited too long to pull me off him.
Baby Herman spat his only tooth. “Alright, alright! I’ll tell ya. RK Maroon.”
My blood boiling. “Maroon? What’s he got to do with this?”
Herman: “He wanted dirt on Acme. Something about Acme blocking a vote to kick toons out of Toon Town to build trolleys. And he wanted to catch Jessica violating her contract. Two birds.”
Roger: “One big fuckin’ stone.”
Me, putting it together. “And they dangled me out as bait in case the shit hit the fan.”
Herman: “Exactly. What I didn’t count on was Acme getting snuffed. Was that really you Roger?”
Roger, calm, cold, precise. “I would say a rabbit is capable of if placed in the right circumstances.”
A bluff. Baby Herman bought it. Sweating. Something didn’t sit right with me.
“Why me? There’s a hundred private dicks out there to take the fall. Why me?”
Baby Herman, mumbling. I heard the word “Brother.”
“What the fuck did you just say?”
Herman: “Go fuck your dog, copper.”
I kicked the chair over. The 37 year old baby ate shit. I pulled out my .45, dumped 5 rounds onto the ground. They all cheered and walked outside. I saved one, the Mexican bullet. I placed him in the cylinder and spun it, the bullet crying “Ay carumba” as it spun.
I thumbed the hammer back.
Herman: “You won’t do it.”
Trigger pull. Click. Thumb it back again.
“DOES ACME HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH TEDDY?!”
Baby Herman sputtering. Pull. Click. Thumb it back again.
“ACME AND TEDDY BOTH GOT SNUFFED THE SAME WAY. ARE THEY CONNECTED?!’
Silence. Two clicks. 1 in 2 chance now. I thumbed back it back again. Baby Herman. He made a ca-ca in his dipey.
Herman: “Waahhhh. Ok. Just stop! I’ll tell you. Teddy was working for Maroon when he got snuffed. Same gig, photo work. Scoping out land developers in Toon Town. Told to blackmail some senator who was gonna be the deciding vote on the land development bill. That land is now being sold to the trolley company, which Acme was trying to stop. They probably wanted you cuz you were an easy fall guy.”
“Who killed Teddy?”
Herman: “How the fuck should I know?”
I pointed the gun at the ceiling and fired. The bullet flew out, hooting and hollering, and crashed through the ceiling. Plaster fell on our heads. I heard the bullet join his friends outside. I pulled out another, the Indian one, and loaded it and spun.
Herman: “I don’t know. But that senator that Teddy blackmailed is now a judge. Judge Doom!”
Bombshells dropping. Everything coming together. I pulled the hammer back.
“Who. Killed. Teddy?”
Roger: “Jesus Eddie! He doesn't know.”
I pulled myself off, fists and head throbbing.
Herman: “Fuckin shit Roger, you should learn how to control your dog.”
Roger: “I don’t know how.”
We started to leave. Baby Herman, trying to get the last laugh.
Herman: “Yea. You never could control anyone in your life.”
Roger heel turned, faced Herman down.
Roger: “What did you just say cocksucker?”
Herman: “I heard nobody payed Jessica to play pattycake with Acme. I heard you couldn’t make her laugh anymore, and she just wanted someone to show her some attention.”
I couldn’t grab him in time. Rabbit punches. Face. Body. Roger grabbing Baby Herman’s cigar, burning him on the wrists, under the cuffs. He picked up Baby Herman, shoved him against a wall, his forearm against his throat. Baby Herman literally turning blue. I grabbed Roger by the ears and pulled him off.
Roger seeing Red.
Baby Herman seeing stars.
Me seeing how it all came together.