REVIEW REWIND: The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949)
Continuing our viewing of the Disney animated feature films in chronological order, we come to the last film of the 1940s with The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
Like most of the films of the forties, this film is a package film featuring two animated films. The first is The Wind In The Willows based on the book by Kenneth Grahame and features the adventures of one Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. Narrated by Basil Rathbone, the story starts with Angus MacBadger urging Mr. Toad's friends Ratty and Moley to get him to give up his latest mania of riding his horse cart all over the countryside. But, before they can do that, Toad turns his attention to motor cars. Toad then is accused of stealing a car, but it turns out that he traded his car for the deed to his manor. He is still sent to jail, but Toad escapes to clear his name.
The next film is Ichabod Crane or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow based on the book by Washington Irving. The story revolves around Ichabod Crane, the new teacher coming to Sleepy Hollow. He is tall and lanky, yet a real ladies man. One day, Katrina Van Tassel catches his eye and does what he can to court her. His rival in this is the town strongman Brom Bones. Bones does not understand what Katrina sees in Ichabod. Then, at a party, Brom tells the story of the Headless Horseman to get into Ichabod's head. This leads to Ichabod coming face to face with the legendary horseman.
For me, this film works much better as a package film than Fun and Fancy Free. I liked that the two stories are very different from each other, including being from two different countries. Even the feel of the films were different. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has all the wonderful Mary Blair inspired backgrounds and layouts. It's a visual treat. Also, the music, sung by Bing Crosby who also narrates, is a lot of fun.
In my opinion, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is more successful, that does not mean that The Wind In The Willows is not without its charm. The character designs and animation are wonderful. And "The Merrily Song" is a lot of fun.
Next, we head into the Silver Age of Disney animation with Cinderella.