THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
Written By Erdman Penner, Winston Hibbler, Joe Rinaldi,
Ted Sears, Homer Brightman and Harry Reeves
Composed By Oliver Wallace
Produced By Walt Disney
Edited By John O. Young
Directed By Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi and James Algar
So we went from a bunch of shorts in 'Make Mine Music' to just two in 'Fun And Fancy Free' to a bunch of shorts in 'Melody Time' to just two again with the movie we're taking a look at today-the only exception for this time being that the stories they picked were much more out of the norm since they weren't really fairy tales but rather just classic stories. Both of them have their funny upbeat moments, but both have this very underlying dark tone throughout the whole film and even the setting for the narrators is a little off being set in this dark dark library-you don't even see the narrator, it's just these books sorta floating and the stained glass window with a candle in it. When I was a kid, I loved it and I still love it as an adult...but can these two shorts still scare up some fun after seventy years? Let's find out, this is 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad'!
THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD: Two animated adaptations of classic literature make up this Disney film. In "The Wind in the Willows," wealthy Mr. Toad yearns for all the newest fads setting out to get an automobile in any way he can...and in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," gangling schoolmaster Ichabod Crane falls for the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel but soon fears from a local legend called the Headless Horseman while caught in a love triangle with Katrina and Brom Bones.
First up, we have 'The Wind In The Willows' which when you get down to it is another very strange book...the weird part is not that animals are walking and talking, it's the fact that everybody else in the world is human and also the fact that they're to scale-the rat is literally the size of a rat, that just looks so odd! But the rest of the story seems to follow pretty closely to the book with Mr. Toad being the extremist all over anything that's new and hot-as the Brits call it, 'mania'-resulting in him making a really stupid deal while handing over a toad-haul in exchange for a motorcar with a man named Mr. Winky who I'm sure is some sort of ethnic stereotype that eventually tells a different story in court of the fact that Mr. Toad stole the car resulting in Mr. Toad being thrown in jail with only his friends being able to save him...speaking of which, Moley and Ratty are a lot of fun along with Mr. Toad himself being enjoyably crazy and even the horse Cyril Proudbottom gets a few good one-liners like when explaining to the judge how the only way a gentleman gets anything being the honest way with the judge not knowing what the honest way is-that scene just cracks me up every time!
Finally, you have 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow' which in terms of story layout even to the original book is so odd to me and yet I really love it because of that with most of the short just being Ichabod Crane and how he interacts with the people in the town including having both a bully and a girlfriend while being caught in a love triangle who I'm pretty sure in terms of their designs went on to inspire Gaston from 'Beauty And The Beast' and Cinderella from...well, 'Cinderella'-heck, I'm not surprised since the very next animated film that Disney would ever produce after this movie is 'Cinderella'! Most of the story is done through mime-yeah, Bing Crosby narrates the story but people don't really talk for the most part and yet so much character still comes out of them including the fact that something I never noticed as a kid being Ichabod himself being a dick. When you look at what he wants to do, he wants to marry Katrina and mainly get her money-I mean, he's already fantasizing about her father being out of the picture!
I think a lot of people when they look back think of Ichabod Crane as this innocent that gets killed by the Headless Horseman, but no-he was actually sort of a bastard which for Disney is kinda interesting with the fact it's one of the few times where you actually have sort of a jerk being your lead. In fact, you could make the argument that Brom Bones though being a bully is much more of a good guy-I mean, he doesn't do anything really wrong or at least not as wrong as Ichabod and for all we know maybe he'd make a better boyfriend to Katrina...who knows? But of course, the part that everyone remembers is the built up appearance of the Headless Horseman...oh lord, that laugh is cool and I think it's one of those rare times that a lot of kids found themselves both scared and laughing at the same time making the climax a lot of fun in that way being sorta like 'Evil Dead 2'-in fact, I'd be shocked if director Sam Raimi didn't take a lot of the atmosphere and tone directly from this cartoon! It's just your classic ghost story with a classic ghost story ending...
Overall, the two shorts that make up 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad' seem to actually go pretty well together taking advantage of the fact that it's cinematic resulting in getting a lot of fun camera angles while also sticking true to their stories and taking some creative liberties. Whenever anyone thinks of 'The Wind In The Willows' or 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow', these are usually the first two versions that come in mind and that's probably not so bad-it's of course good to read the originals, but these are pretty good adaptations. Heavy on the dark but also big on the laughs, I am proud to give 'The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad' a rating of a 9 out of 10...either one is great on its own, but they work just as good back-to-back.