The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Article #972 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-12-2003
Posting Date: 4-10-2004
Directed by James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, et al.
Featuring the Voices of Basil Rathbone, Bing Crosby, Eric Blore

Two stories are told. The first is about a toad whose wild exploits land him in trouble with the police. The second is about a schoolmaster who ends up competing with the town bully for the hand of a beautiful woman.

This was made during the forties, when Disney was reckoning somewhat with the unpredictability of making animated features, where a single feature could take an enormous amount of time which could then be lost if the movie failed to make a profit. One of his solutions was to make some features which actually consisted of several stories at once. I’m not sure what inspired him to combine “The Wind in the Willows” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, other than that they were both adapted from works of literature. I remember reading “The Wind in the Willows” as a child, but I don’t really recall this particular toad adventure, and though it is occasionally entertaining, it certainly isn’t representative of the book as a whole. In fact, this never really comes to life; there are reasons these characters never became Disney favorites. The Ichabod sequence comes off much better, though it too reduces many of the events to slapstick comedy; even the scary headless horseman sequence (the best part of the movie and the part most of interest to horror fans) suffers a little bit from the overuse of gags. Nonetheless, the headless horseman himself is never played for laughs, and the ambiguous ending is retained. Overall, I’d have to say that this was a pretty minor effort from Disney.


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