The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)    1 Stars


The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Director: James Algar, Clyde Geronomi, Jack Kinney

Cast: Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Eric Blore

Synopsis:  Two animated adaptions of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Wind in the Willows.”

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Disney’s combination of a couple of literary classics — one British, one American — forms an uneven double feature while upholding the studio’s impeccable standards of animation.

The first story, a severely truncated excerpt from The Wind in the Willows, follows the exploits of a slightly nutty Mr. Toad who gallivants around the countryside in a yellow gypsy cart pulled by a singing nag from ‘oop north’ called Cyril. Not quite sure Toad can be held up as a role model for kids as he gets high inhaling exhaust fumes from passing cars and runs up enormous debts in his pursuit of a life of excitement. And we can only wonder whether his impersonation of a motor car was the forerunner of the Crazy Frog motorbike routine that swept the British nation in 2005. The story drags a little, although it will probably be engaging enough for younger children, and it’s worth sticking with to see the tussle for the deed to Toad Hall that takes place between Toad and his friends and the wicked Winkie and his weasel pals.

The second entry, based on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a much livelier affair with some terrific animation and a consistently humorous storyline. Ichabod Crane makes an unlikely leading man, falling foul of Brom Bones, ringleader of the Sleepy Hollow boys at Ye Olde Schnooker and Schnapps Shoppe, as he attempts to win the hand of the fair Katrina. Ichabod is wonderfully drawn, especially his facial features, and there’s a hilarious dance sequence between him and Bones. I also liked Ichabod’s tired old nag, sitting obliviously with his backside parked on a gravestone as Ichabod frantically tries to work him up to a gallop. Good stuff.

(Reviewed 25th September 2005)