Whatever happened to…Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Whatever happened to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Does anyone else remember this classic Disney Film from 1949? It hardly ever gets mentioned even though it was based off of 2 pieces of classic American Literature, “The Wind in the Willows” & “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
This was Walt Disney’s 11 Animated Masterpiece and featured two short films in one. It had the classic Technicolor look of other Disney movies from that era. Later Disney separated the story of Ichabod Crane from the companion Mr. Toad film and sold and marketed it separately starting in 1958.
Here is a video preview:
Also here is a Wikipedia breakdown of both films in case you have never seen or heard of them.
The Wind in the Willows
The Adventures of Mr. Toad is based on Kenneth Grahame‘s The Wind in the Willows (narrated by Basil Rathbone). In this story, the charismatic J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq., is the happy-go-lucky, wealthy proprietor of Toad Hall. Toad believes in fun, adventure and travelling to “Nowhere in Particular”; He has built a great deal of debt from disregarding the financial responsibilities of his insatiable love for transportation vehicles, such as gypsy carts and (subsequently) the newfangled motor car. His friends Ratty (Water Rat), Moley (Mole) and Angus MacBadger, try to help him when his mania leads to the loss of the deed to Toad Hall, and a charge of car theft. Toad is thrown into prison due to the perjured testimony of Mr. Winkie the tavernkeeper. Later, Toad’s loyal horse Cyril Proudbottom pays a visit and assists him in escaping. Toad makes good his escape and manages to get back to Ratty’s home on Christmas Eve. There Toad, Ratty and Moley are informed by MacBadger that evil Winkie (who sold Toad the car), and several criminal weasels, have taken over Toad Hall. With his friends’ aid, Toad redeems his good name by recovering the deed to the estate from the very hands of its captors. Toad, touched by the loyalty and kindness of his friends, promises to reform; but is shown (at Ratty, Moley and MacBadger’s New Year celebrations) relapsing by recklessly flying a 1908 biplane along with Cyril at the end of the story.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, based on Washington Irving‘s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (narrated by Bing Crosby). The gangly and lanky Ichabod Crane is the new schoolmaster in Sleepy Hollow. His somewhat odd behavior makes him the ridicule of the rambunctious and robust town bully Brom Bones. Despite his odd appearance, Ichabod quickly proves to be a ladies’ man charming all the eligible local ladies. Finally, however, Ichabod discovers the local town beauty, Katrina Van Tassel. Katrina is the beautiful young daughter of Baltus Van Tassel, the wealthiest farmer in the area, and Brom’s intended. Katrina is a coquette by nature, but sees Ichabod as an opportunity to break from the monotony of Brom scaring away every other potential suitor. Ichabod has his eye on the Van Tassel wealth, and is infatuated by Katrina’s beauty and grace as well. After a number of comically unsuccessful efforts by Brom to dispose of Ichabod, including a scene at the Van Tassel’s Halloween party where he tries to switch his short overweight dance partner Tilda with Katrina, the situation changes when Brom decides to take advantage of Ichabod’s strong belief in superstitions. Brom musically tells the tale of the Headless Horseman to frighten the teacher. That Halloween night, Crane’s lonely ride home becomes exceedingly frightening because of his exposure to the possibility of encountering the ghost. The atmosphere of fear increases in intensity, until it breaks the tension at a false alarm, whereupon Ichabod and his horse laugh hysterically in relief. Immediately, the true Headless Horseman appears, laughing maniacally, riding a large black horse that bears a strong resemblance to the one owned by Brom. Then follows a spectacular chase scene wherein the visually impressive Horseman pursues Ichabod with wild abandon, only to be deterred when Ichabod crosses a bridge near the local Dutch graveyard (the bridge being the point beyond which the horseman cannot go, according to the tale). The Horseman then hurls his own severed head (shown to actually be a fiery Jack-o-lantern), at Ichabod. The jack-o-lantern is seemingly hurled right at us, bursts into flames as it strikes, and everything is lost to darkness. The next morning, the only things found by the bridge are a shattered pumpkin and Ichabod’s hat. Brom shortly thereafter marries Katrina. It is later rumored that Ichabod married a rich, plump widow with many children (who all resemble Ichabod to an amazing degree), in the next county. But the simple, common denizens of Sleepy Hollow firmly deny this; they all know that Ichabod was spirited away on Halloween Night by the ghoulish Headless Horseman.
Even though these movies were before my time. I remember seeing the Legend of Sleepy Hollow when I was younger (Not sure if it was on a Disney Sunday night special or on VHS somewhere) and riding on Mr Toad’s ride at Walt Disney World. Which is no longer there and will be a topic in a later article.
This is a true Disney classic in a time when Walt Disney was struggling. He would later release Cinderella which would turn things around for him and start his decent on other animated films we know and love.
You can find this film everywhere even on some Tube releated sites (wink) or to purchase on DVD for your Disney Collection. When my little one gets a little older we are going to make this a Halloween tradition to watch this movie and the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.
I hope that through these articles I am able to spark a distant memory of Disney when you were younger. Disney was apart of my life growing up and I like remembering bits and pieces of the past. They made me into the Disney Nerd I am today. See you next time!