It’s been a long time since I last watched The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and I had pretty much forgotten about the Mr. Toad part of the film (though perhaps I never saw it…I don’t remember). While the Sleepy Hollow story is fun, I wasn’t as fond of Toad’s adventure.
The first segment is based on the classic and beloved story, The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame. I remember reading the book and loving it as a child. I haven’t read it since then, but I think I will find a copy and remedy that. The Disney adaptation takes a fair number of liberties with the text, mixing up the stories and adding characters and scenes not found in the book.
This turns the story, which actually has a good ending to the book, into a slapstick adventure with no real ending. This is disappointing because Grahame did such an excellent job in the original tales. It is, however, pretty much how Disney was producing its films at the time. While I didn’t hate this adaptation, it never moved beyond mediocre.
The segment featuring the lanky and nasally-blessed Ichabod, based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, was better than the first segment, but only just. Ichabod Crane is the new school teacher for the quaint little town of Sleepy Hollow. Due to his unusual appearance, some of the townsfolk make fun of him, but he somehow catches the eye of the local beauty, Katrina.
This film contains some scenes which are still memorable, especially the tale of the Headless Horsemen, and Ichabod’s encounter with him near the end of the story. I remember watching this when I was much younger, and it was a terrifying scene. Even now, it retains some of that scariness.
The narrators for the two parts are each well known for different reasons. Basil Rathbone was a radio, film, television, and theatrical star who won multiple awards across his over 50-year career. His voice was instantly recognizable to the audience in 1949, and he was very well known for portraying Sherlock Holmes in a number of films. Bing Crosby, who narrated and sang in the Sleepy Hollow segment, was known for his dulcet tones on many an album and radio show.
Together, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is above average, but certainly not the best Disney has produced. It is worth getting, however, especially for the Sleepy Hollow segment, which is a great one to play around Halloween.
Release Date: October 5, 1949 (USA)
MPAA Rating: G
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (mild social drinking)
Sexuality: 0 (but a little flirting and eyelash-batting)
Violence: 2 (slapstick, gunfights, flaming pumpkin flinging, attempted beheading)