Cloverleaf Industries is a fictional transit company appearing in the 1988 Touchstone Pictures film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It is inspired by the companies of the Great American streetcar scandal and the rise of the Southern California freeway system.
Cloverleaf is owned by the Judge Doom, the corrupt, evil, Toon-hating judge of Toontown. In 1947, Doom uses Cloverleaf to acquire the Pacific Electric Railway, a large interurban mass transit system utilizing electric streetcars ("Red Cars"), connecting cities in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Doom's intention is to dismantle Pacific Electric in order for his company to plan and construct a network of large highways called "freeways."
Doom murders Acme Corporation owner Marvin Acme (who also owns Toontown) and Maroon Cartoons owner R. K. Maroon in an attempt to take control of Toontown. Acme's will stipulates that the Toons are the heirs to Toontown, but the will is missing, and Toontown will be sold to Cloverleaf Industries if not found in time. Doom intends to take control of Toontown in order to destroy it, as Toontown stands directly in the path of his proposed freeway.
Doom reveals these plans while in a brawl with Eddie Valiant, where he is suddenly flattened by a steamroller. However, Doom survives, revealing himself to be a Toon and the murderer of Eddie's brother, Teddy. In the struggle, Valiant manages to gain victory over Doom by spraying him with "Dip," a mixture of chemicals developed by Doom himself as a way to kill Toons. 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. With the will in hand, Toontown is rightfully left to the Toons. It is unknown whether or not Cloverleaf continues to exist after Doom is killed.
Behind the scenes
Cloverleaf is based on the real-life National City Lines, a front company controlled by major American automotive and oil companies such as General Motors, which acquired streetcar and electric rail lines across the United States and replaced them with bus lines in order to monopolize the sales of buses. In the early 1950s, the opening of several new freeways in the Los Angeles area led to declining ridership, which led Pacific Electric to shut down several of its rail lines.
While Pacific Electric never fell into the hands of NCL, Pacific Electric's rail service was sold off in 1953 to Metropolitan Coach Lines, a company which, like NCL, wanted to convert all rail service to bus service as quickly as possible. More lines shut down in 1954 and 1955, as freeways such as Interstate 5 neared completion. In 1958, the State of California took control of Pacific Electric through its Public Utility Commission. On April 9, 1961, the Pacific Electric Railway's last remaining rail line, which ran from Los Angeles to Long Beach, carried its last passengers. It was subsequently replaced by a bus line.