The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Released: 1949

Rated: G

Length: 68 min.

Age: 5 +

Scary Factor: lots of shooting guns; battle for Toad Hall extremely violent, flying knives and axes; much slapstick humour

Bad Behaviour: weasels depicted as dead drunk in Toad Hall sequence

Dangerous Behaviour: at one point Toad is blissfully inhaling car exhaust (!?!), to show how much he loves automobiles

Interests: animal stories, automobiles, ghosts, ghost stories

Next: read the originals- The Wind in the Willows  by Kenneth Graham, and the short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

This film is made up of two famous tales – the first is Mr. Toad’s tale, excerpted from the Kenneth Grahame novel The Wind in the Willows, and the second is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a short story by Washington Irving. It’s a real old world-new world pairing, the British tale narrated by Basil Rathbone (swashbuckling baddie from Errol Flynn movies and later famous as Sherlock Holmes), and the famous American short story jazzily narrated by Bing Crosby.

Mr. Toad – This story is much, much altered from the book. Most significant alteration is that Toad is not guilty of car theft! In the book he is guilty of that and jailbreak too, but such criminality was too problematic for Disney in 1949. Violence, however, was not a problem; the battle to regain Toad Hall is full of it. Knives and axes are flung at characters, and at one point “Winky” is about to behead poor old Mole!

It is interesting that the American view of Toad might be more sympathetic than the British view. (Providing that he hasn’t broken any laws!) In the revised ending here Toad is not chastened at all, but adopts a new mania (airplanes). The narrator concludes the story with “Don’t you envy him a little bit? I do.”

As there are other, really excellent animated versions of The Wind in the Willows out there, I’d tend to advise against bothering with this one… although Eric Blore as the voice of Toad is very, very good. (Eric Blore was a comic character actor, best known for roles in Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers films of the 1930s.)

The Headless Horseman tale is more faithful to the original, even including Ichabod’s mysterious disappearance/possible demise at the end. Irving’s short story suggests that Ichabod’s rival Brom may have done the schoolmaster in. This is dodged in the movie version, which leans more on the supernatural explanation. (For those who wish it, the possibility that Ichabod escaped to live another day is also offered.) The chase sequence with the horseman is quite suspenseful and scary, but still in a goofy way.

In conclusion: Quite dated, both in the music but also in the stories, which are rife with weaponry and violence not seen in more modern cartoons. The story of Toad is much bowdlerized and better versions can be found elsewhere. The Headless Horseman is better – a terrific story for Hallowe’en.

DVD extras: Two shorts are included, both as dated as the feature. In Susie the Little Blue Coupe (7 min.) the title character is abused and neglected, soon loses “her self respect” and is seen driving away from a bar, weaving and hiccupping. Lonesome Ghosts (8 min.) is a Ghostbuster story starring Mickey, Donald and Goofy in lots of slapstick mayhem. With weapons.

(This title on amazon.)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. anilbalan
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 11:11:40

    Looks great!

    http://anilbalan.com/

    Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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