The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a 1949 American animated package film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film consists of two segments—the first of which is based on the 1908 children's novel The Wind in the Willows by Scottish author Kenneth Grahame, and the second is based on the 1820 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", called Ichabod Crane in the film, by American author Washington Irving.
Wind in the Willows
One summer day, MacBadger asks Toad's friends Ratty (a water rat) and Moley (a mole) to persuade Toad to give up his latest mania of recklessly driving about the countryside in a horse and gypsy cart, which could accumulate a great deal of financial liability in damaged property. Ratty and Moley confront Toad, but are unable to change his mind. Toad then sees a motor car for the first time and becomes entranced by the new machine, having been taken over by "motor-mania."
To cure Toad's new mania, Ratty and Moley put Toad under house arrest. However, Toad escapes and is later arrested and charged with car theft. At his trial, Toad represents himself and calls his horse Cyril Proudbottom as his first witness. Cyril testifies that the car which Toad was accused of stealing had already been stolen by a gang of weasels. Toad had entered a tavern where the car was parked and offered to buy the car from the weasels. However, since Toad had no money, he instead offered to trade Toad Hall for the car. The prosecutor and judge show disbelief toward the statement, so Toad then calls the bartender Mr. Winky as a witness to the agreement; however, when told by Toad to explain what actually happened, Winky falsely testifies that Toad had tried to sell him the stolen car. Toad is found guilty on the spot and sentenced to 20 years in the Tower of London. As the months passed by, Toad's friends make every effort to appeal his case, but to no avail.
On Christmas Eve, Cyril visits Toad in disguise as his grandmother and helps him escape by giving him a disguise of his own. Toad quickly runs to a railway station and hijacks a train and drives out of the station heading toward the river bank without getting caught by the police on another train. Meanwhile, MacBadger discovers that Winky is the leader of the weasel gang, and that they have indeed taken over Toad Hall; Winky himself is in possession of the deed. Knowing that the deed bearing Toad and Winky's signature would prove Toad's innocence, the four friends sneak into Toad Hall and take the document after a grueling chase around the estate.
The film then ends on New Year's Day with Toad exonerated and regaining his house while it is implied that Winky and his minions have been arrested and imprisoned. As MacBadger, Ratty, and Moley celebrate the New Year with a toast to Toad, who they believe has completely reformed, Toad and Cyril recklessly fly past on a 1903 Wright Flyer; Toad has not truly reformed and has developed a mania for airplanes.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
In October 1790, Ichabod Crane, a lanky, gluttonous, superstitious yet charming dandy arrives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, a small village north of Tarrytown and New York City, New York, United States that is renowned for its ghostly hauntings, to be the town's new schoolmaster. Despite his odd behavior, appearance, and effeminate mannerisms, Ichabod soon wins the hearts of the village's women and forms good friendships with his students. Brom Bones, the roguish town hero, does his best to bully Ichabod. However, he is very good at ignoring these taunts and continues to interact with the townspeople. Ichabod then falls in love with Katrina van Tassel, the beautiful daughter and only child of Baltus van Tassel, who is the richest man in the village (unlike in most films, Katrina does not have spoken dialogue in this segment). Despite the fact that he is falling in love with her, Ichabod mainly desires to take her family's money for himself. Brom, who is also in love with her, proceeds to compete with the schoolmaster. Ichabod wins Katrina over at every opportunity, although, unbeknownst to him, Katrina, who thinks Brom is too sure of himself, is only using Ichabod to make Brom jealous and force him to try harder for her affections.
The two love rivals are invited to the van Tassel Halloween party where Brom tries to swap a plump woman for Katrina who is dancing with Ichabod but comically fails. While both men dine, Brom catches Ichabod accidentally knocking the salt shaker over and nervously tossing salt over his shoulder. Discovering that Ichabod is superstitious, he decides to sing the tale of the legendary Headless Horseman who was apparently killed by a cannonball in a recent conflict and travels one night each year while searching for a head to replace the one he had lost and that the only way to escape the ghost is to cross an old covered bridge over a brook. Everyone else, including Katrina, finds this amusing while Ichabod, on the other hand, starts to fear for his life.
On his way home from the party, Ichabod becomes paranoid by every animal noise he hears while riding through the dark woods, increasing his fear of the possibility of encountering the Horseman. While traveling through the old cemetery, Ichabod believes he hears the sound of a horse galloping toward him, but discovers the sound is being made by nearby cattails bumping on a log. Relieved, Ichabod begins to laugh with his horse. However, their laughter is cut short by the appearance of the real Headless Horseman riding a black horse (that is, suspiciously, identical to Brom's horse). After the ghost gives chase through the dark forest, Ichabod, remembering Brom's advice, crosses a covered bridge, which stops the ghost's pursuit. However, the horseman throws his flaming head, revealed to be a great big jack-o'-lantern, at a screaming Ichabod from a first-person camera view. Flames appear and the screen dissolves to black.
The next morning, Ichabod's hat is found at the bridge next to the Headless Horseman's shattered pumpkin, but Ichabod is nowhere to be found. Sometime later, Brom takes Katrina as his bride and they marry. Rumors begin to spread that Ichabod is still alive, married to a wealthy widow in a distant county with children who all look like him. However, the people of Sleepy Hollow insist that he has been "spirited away" by the Headless Horseman.
Why It Rocks
- The segments stay true to the original source materials well enough.
- Excellent voice acting.
- Beautiful animation like most other Disney films at the time.
- The musical score is really well done.
- The colors and backgrounds are lovely and appealing.
- The Merrily Song from The Wind in the Willows segment is very funny.
- The Headless Horseman song from The Legend if Sleepy Hollow is also catchy as well.
- Several funny scenes such as Mr. Toad imitating a motor car.
- The chase scene with Ichabod and the Headless Horseman from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was very thrilling and exciting.
- The Wind in the Willows segment has received it's own ride at Disneyland and formerly Walt Disney World called Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
- "What is the honest way" "Thought you wouldn't know that, guv'nor"
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment might be too scary and dark for younger audiences.