The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Ichabodposter.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed by Jack Kinney
Clyde Geronimi
James Algar
Produced by Walt Disney
Written by Erdman Penner
Winston Hibler
Joe Rinaldi
Ted Sears
Homer Brightman
Harry Reeves
Based on The Wind in the Willows 
by Kenneth Grahame
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 
by Washington Irving
Starring Eric Blore
Pat O'Malley
Colin Campbell
John McLeish
Campbell Grant
Claude Allister
Leslie Denison
Edmond Stevens
The Rhythmaires
Narrated by Basil Rathbone
Bing Crosby
Music by Oliver Wallace
Edited by John O. Young
Production
company
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release dates
  • October 5, 1949 (1949-10-05)
Running time 68 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a 1949 animated package film produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film consists of two segments – the first is based on the 1908 children's novel The Wind in the Willows by British 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.

The film is the 11th Walt Disney theatrical animated feature and is the last of the studio's package film era of the 1940s, following Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, and Melody Time.

Beginning in 1955, the two portions of the film were separated, and televised as part of the Disneyland television series. They were later marketed and sold separately on home video.

Segments[edit]

As the film's animated segments are based on literary works, they are both introduced in live-action scenes set in a library as a framing device. The first segment is introduced and narrated by Basil Rathbone, and the second segment is introduced and narrated by Bing Crosby.

The Wind in the Willows[edit]

This segment is based on The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame, as told by Basil Rathbone. The story is set in and around London c. 1908 between 11 August and 1 January. The protagonist J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. is introduced as an "incurable adventurer" who "never counted the cost". Although he is the wealthy proprietor of the Toad Hall estate, Toad's adventures and "positive mania for fads" have given the townspeople a lot of trouble and brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. Toad's friend Angus MacBadger volunteers as Toad's bookkeeper to help Toad keep his estate which remains a source of pride in the community.

One day, MacBadger asks Toad's friends Ratty (a water rat) and Moley (a mole) to persuade Toad that he has to give up his latest mania of recklessly driving about the countryside in a horse and 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, taken over by "motor-mania."

To cure Toad's new mania, Ratty and Moley put Toad under house arrest to keep him out of trouble. However, Toad tries to escape, but is later arrested by police officers 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 by the police had already been stolen by a gang of weasels. Toad had entered a tavern where the car was illegally parked and offered to buy the car from the weasels. However, since Toad forgot his money, he decided to offer to trade Toad Hall for the car instead. Toad then calls the bartender Mr. Winky as a witness to the agreement. However, much to Toad's surprise, Winky claims that Toad had tried to sell him the stolen car. Toad is immediately found guilty and is sentenced to 20 years in the Tower of London at the Beast's castle and deemed mad so that he stays out of trouble. Toad's friends make their efforts to appeal his case, which are foiled by the Beast, who forewarns them that Toad's actions may result in facing capital punishment in the prison wagon once and for all.

That Christmas Eve, Cyril visits Toad in prison and helps him escape. Meanwhile, MacBadger discovers that Winky is the leader of the weasel gang, and that they have indeed taken over Toad Hall. The Daily News shows that 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.

In the final scenes, it is revealed that Toad was exonerated and regained possession of Toad Hall as he was temporarily insane at the time of the transaction. At their New Year celebration, Ratty, Moley, and MacBadger toast their friend Toad whom they believe to be completely reformed. Just then, Toad and Cyril fly past in a Bristol Boxkite, showing that Toad has only discovered the new mania of airplanes.

Ichabod Crane[edit]

The second segment is based on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving, as told by Bing Crosby, the voice of Ichabod Crane. Although the film introduces the story as Ichabod Crane, later individual releases retained the story's original title. (As a short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was originally published in The Sketch Book with other stories, not as a single volume as pictured in the film.)

In October 1790, Ichabod Crane, a lanky, gluttonous, superstitious yet charming man arrives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, a small village north of Tarrytown that is renowned for its ghostly hauntings, to be the town's new schoolmaster. Despite his odd behavior and awkward appearance, Ichabod soon wins the hearts of the village's women. Brom Bones, the oafish 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 eighteen-year-old 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 has no spoken dialogue in this segment). Despite falling in love with her, Ichabod secretly intends to take her family's money for himself. Brom, who is also in love with her, competes with the schoolmaster, and wants to ruin Ichabod's plans to ruin Katrina. 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 very disappointed in him.

At the van Tassel Halloween party, Brom tries to swap a plump woman he is dancing with for Katrina, who is dancing with Ichabod, but comically fails. He also tries to get Ichabod to fall into a cellar, which also comically fails. Later, as the night grows dark, Brom sees his chance when he notices Ichabod toss salt over his shoulder after spilling some during dinner. Using Ichabod's strong belief in superstitions to his advantage, Brom devises a clever plan by telling the story of the town's legendary Headless Horseman through song. The infamous horseman is said to be the ghost of a soldier whose head was lost in battle and every Halloween rises from the grave to seek a new head. Brom claims to have encountered the ghost the previous year and that after fleeing across a nearby old wooden bridge, the ghost disappeared. While Katrina finds Brom's song, and Ichabod's reaction to it, humorous, Ichabod takes it seriously and becomes scared by it.

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 towards 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, Ichabod, remembering Brom's advice, crosses a covered bridge, which stops the ghost's pursuit. However, it is too late, for the horseman throws his flaming head, revealed to be a jack-o'-lantern, at a screaming Ichabod.

The next morning, Ichabod's hat is found at the bridge next to a shattered pumpkin, but unfortunately, Ichabod is nowhere to be found. Sometime later, Brom takes Katrina as his bride. Rumors begin to spread that Ichabod is still alive, married a wealthy widow in a distant county with children who all look like him. However, the people of Sleepy Hollow realize that he had been "spirited away" by the Headless Horseman forever.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

In 1938, shortly after the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, James Bodrero and Campbell Grant pitched to Walt Disney the idea of making a feature film of Kenneth Grahame's 1908 children's book The Wind in the Willows.[1] Bodrero and Grant felt that Wind in the Willows, with its anthropomorphised animals, could only be produced using animation. Disney was skeptical, however, and felt it would be "corny"[1] but acquired the rights in June that year. The film was intended to be a single narrative feature film with the title of the same name.

By early 1941, a basic script was complete,[2] along with a song written by Frank Churchill called "We're Merrily on Our Way". Although it was intended to be a low-budget film (much like Dumbo), Disney hired many animators from the prestigious Bambi (which was nearly complete) and production began in May that year. Within six months, 33 minutes of the film had been animated.[3] However, the studio's ability to produce full-length feature films had been drastically diminished, because World War II had drafted many of their animators into the military and had cut off their foreign release market. Thus, in October 1941, Disney put the production of Wind in the Willows on hold.[3][4]

Then in December 1941, the United States became embroiled in the war after Pearl Harbor was attacked. The US government then asked the Disney studio to produce several propaganda films to help rally support for the war effort. During this time, much of Disney's feature output was made up of so-called "package films". Beginning with Saludos Amigos in 1942, Disney ceased making feature films with a single narrative due to the higher costs of such films, as well as the drain on the studio's resources caused by the war.

Walt Disney and his artists felt that the animation of the cartoony anthropomorphized animals in Wind in the Willows was far below the standards of a Disney animated feature. They then decided that Wind in the Willows would be better off being part of a package film.[3]

Walt Disney started up production again in 1945. Many scenes in Wind in the Willows such as Toad buying several cars before his allowance is cut off, Rat and Mole visiting McBadger in a Sanatorium, Toad making an elaborate escape from his bedroom and Toad tricking a washer woman into helping him escape from prison had not yet been animated.[5] Therefore, in order to condense the story for the package film, Disney cut these scenes and completed the remaining animation.[3]

Under the title Three Fabulous Characters they tried to pair it up with Mickey and the Beanstalk and The Gremlins.[6] However, after The Gremlins failed to materialize, the title was changed to Two Fabulous Characters. Then Mickey and the Beanstalk was cut from Fabulous Characters in favour of pairing it with Bongo under the title Fun and Fancy Free which was eventually released in 1947.

Meanwhile, in December 1946, Disney started production on a new animated feature film, an adaptation of Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".[7] However, the filmmakers found that the running time for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was not long enough to be a feature film and was more suited to be a package film.

Finally, in 1947, Walt Disney decided to pair The Wind in the Willows with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow under the new working title The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.[4] Well-known celebrities Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby were cast as narrators in order to provide mass audience appeal.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was the last of the "package" films, and Disney returned to single-narrative features with 1950's Cinderella, and Disney would continue, despite the package feature, to produce independent shorts on a regular basis until the mid-1950s.

Reception[edit]

The film has received positive reviews, garnering a 93% "Fresh" score among critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment has received particular praise for being both effectively scary but still suitable for children and families. The film has gained quite a large fanbase, mostly people who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s when the film was shown on television during the autumn months.

M. Faust of Common Sense Media gave the film five out of five stars, writing, "Two classic stories told in the best Disney style".[8]

Accolades[edit]

Subsequent usage and home video release[edit]

The Mr. Toad segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was first screened on television, in edited form, as part of the inaugural season of the Disneyland anthology series, on February 2, 1955, under the title The Wind in the Willows.[10] It was paired with an edited version of Disney's The Reluctant Dragon[10] due to the fact that both cartoons are based on stories by author Kenneth Grahame.[11] The Ichabod segment of the film had its television premiere during the following season of TV's Disneyland, on October 26, 1955, under the title The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.[12] Notably, for this airing of Sleepy Hollow and subsequent reruns, a new 14-minute animated prologue was added, recounting the life of Washington Irving, the story's author. This prologue has never been released on home video.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was released on its own to theaters as a 33-minute featurette in September 1963.[13] This was the same edit presented on the Disneyland television series, minus the 14-minute prologue and the Walt Disney live-action host segments. Similarly, in 1978, The Wind in the Willows segment of the original film was re-released to theaters under the new title The Madcap Adventures of Mr. Toad to accompany Disney's feature film Hot Lead and Cold Feet.[14]

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow had a subsequent television airing, in truncated form, as part of the 1982 TV special Disney's Halloween Treat.

Once it was split into two segments for airing on the Disneyland television series, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was not available for viewing in its original form for many years thereafter, but was instead screened as two individual items. When first released on home video, the segments retained their names from the Disneyland series (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows, respectively), having taken their names from the original stories.

Some of the scenes were cut when the segments were split up for home video release. For example:

  • The Wind in the Willows
    • Part of the introduction was cut because of the new music added.
    • The scene where MacBadger confronts the angry townspeople who are suing Toad.
    • The newspaper scene regarding Toad's disgrace was shortened by removing the newspaper articles of his friends' attempts to reopen his case.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    • The only thing that was cut was the introduction in the bookcases.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad received its first complete home video release in the UK in 1991 and in the US in 1992, when it was released by Walt Disney Home Video on laserdisc. A subsequent complete release on VHS followed in 1999 as the last title in the Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection line. In 2000, it appeared on DVD for the first time as part of the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection line.

The 1963 theatrical version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was released on VHS as part of the Walt Disney Mini Classics series on October 19, 1990. Part of the same Walt Disney Mini Classics line, the 1978 theatrical version of The Wind In The Willows was released on VHS on March 4, 1994. This same version of The Wind In The Willows was issued on DVD for the first time in 2009, as part of the fifth volume of the Walt Disney Animation Collection: Classic Short Films series.

"The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" was released on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD and in a 2-Movie collection with Fun and Fancy Free on August 12, 2014.[15] It was also released as solely on Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy combo and a stand alone DVD exclusively to Walmart stores.[16][17]

Mr. Toad, the Weasels, Ichabod, Katrina, the Headless Horseman and Tilda were featured as guests in House of Mouse, as audience members/attendees and in various spots. Here, Mr. Toad was voiced by Jeff Bennett. Toad, Ratty, Moley, Mac Badger, Cyril and two of the weasels also made an appearance in the Christmas featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol, as Scrooge's old employer Fezziwig, the two Charitable Gentlemen asking for donations for the poor, an attendee of Fezziwig's party, Donald Duck's horse and two grave diggers, respectively. Mr. Toad and Cyril Proudbottom also made cameo appearances in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, while the Toon Patrol's designs were based on the weasels from the film.

Merchandising[edit]

In 2000, the Walt Disney Gold Classic Collection, which is a collection of officially released Disney statue and pin merchandise (not to be confused with the Walt Disney Classics Collection, which was a video series of Disney animated features in the 1980s and early 1990s), released 3,500 limited edition statue sets of the two main Sleepy Hollow characters Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. The figures were originally sold for $695 together as a set.[citation needed] The pair have since been retired from the collection and its value has risen dramatically[dubious ] each year.[citation needed]

On August 29, 2010, Mr. Toad was released as an annual passholder vinylmation. On January 13, 2012, The Headless Horseman was the chaser in the Animation 2 vinylmation set.

Directing animators[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b website=
  2. ^ Wind in the Willows, Michael Barrier-comment
  3. ^ a b c d Barrier, Michael (1999) Hollywood Cartoons, Oxford University Press, UK
  4. ^ a b "The American Film Institute, catalog of motion pictures, Volume 1, Part 1, Feature films 1941-1950, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad"
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Gabler, Neal-(2006), Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination, Alfred A. Knopf Inc, New York City
  7. ^ Gabler, Neal-(2006), Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination, Alfred .A Knopf Inc, New York City
  8. ^ M. Faust. "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - Movie Review". Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ Golden Globe Awards http://www.goldenglobes.org/browse/film/25083
  10. ^ a b Television. (1955, February 2). Yonkers Herald Statesman, p. 18.
  11. ^ Today's Television Programs. (1955, August 3). Long Island Star-Journal, p. 25.
  12. ^ Tonight. . .don't miss Channel 7. (1955, October 26). The New York Times, p. 63.
  13. ^ Shorts Chart. (1963, September 23). BoxOffice, p. 10.
  14. ^ Feature Reviews. (1978, July 31). BoxOffice, p. 77.
  15. ^ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K7BCWLW/
  16. ^ http://www.walmart.com/ip/36931815
  17. ^ http://www.walmart.com/ip/36931812

External links[edit]