rabbit

I had breakfast with my movie buddy Scott this morning. We were talking about odd films that we saw years ago and can’t seem to find on TV, DVD, streaming or some bargain bin. One that I thought of was Get to Know Your Rabbit.

I had read something about it around 1970 and wanted to see it, but it never appeared in theaters. It’s about a corporate executive, Donald, who decides to get off the rat race wheel.  He wants to become a traveling tap dancing magician. His mentor is Mr. Delasandro. (And early lesson is to “get to know your rabbit.”

get-to-know-your-rabbit-6His old boss, Mr. Turnbull, wants him back and so follows him on the road. Turnbull becomes intrigued by the adventure and the two of them end up forming “Tap Dancing Magicians.” It’s a course/workshop for business people who are feeling the pressure and need some escape.

As you might have guessed, their course becomes very popular and Donald ironically finds himself feeling the same way he did when he originally quit his job.
It is an odd one. It is cultish. I know of a few other people who have seen it and like it. Great film? No. Interesting film? Yes, especially if you consider the people involved in making the film.

Director: Brian De Palma, coming off his 1968 underground comedies, Greetings and Hi, Mom!.
Starring: Tom Smothers as Donald Beeman. Yes, the Smothers Brother Tom.
John Astin (best known then as Gomez Addams  in TV’s The Addams Family, as his boss, Paul Turnbull
Katharine Ross coming off my all-time favorite, The Graduate, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (two films in which she broke my teenaged heart) is wonderfully and accurately billed in the credits as the Terrific-Looking Girl.
And Orson Welles plays the magical Mr. Delasandro.

It seems Warner Brothers studio and Tommy Smothers weren’t happy with De Palma’s direction and he was fired “due to creative differences.”

It took two years for it to be released (1972) and without any marketing it disappeared from theaters without a whimper.

I caught it at college in 72 or 73 in the student center film series paired with Welles’ Touch of Evil. (You figure out the programmer’s thinking on that double bill.)

Brian De Palma soured on the studio system after this experience, but went on to make lots of films. He is probably best known for a string of 1980s films: Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Scarface, Body Double, Wise Guys, The Untouchables and Casualties of War.

Welles continued to be Welles.

Ross made more films, but none as good as The Graduate or Butch. Tommy Smothers did not become a film star.

For years I looked for the film on TV or VHS or cable to no avail.  After today’s conversation, I did another search and was surprised to find that Get to Know Your Rabbit is on Amazon.com in all its glory AND that someone posted it in its entirety on YouTube. Better catch it before the copyright cops take it down. That’s my Friday Night at the Movies tonight. I hope it is close to what I remember from 1972.

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