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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 16: "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad"

(Originally published on 4/20/22)


The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Run time: 68 min.

Release Date: October 5, 1949

Where/when I first saw it: First time view

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Saturday morning

It’s no surprise to find the blu-ray for “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” is paired with “Fun and Fancy Free,” since these two represent the best of the “package films” era of the studio, at least the ones that don’t involve Donald Duck (“The Three Caballeros” is still my personal favorite of the bunch). The two films make more successful attempts at actual storytelling and don’t feel like “Fantasia” scraps meant to fill time between projects. “Ichabod and Toad” finds the studio getting back on track with a pair of stories that don’t lend themselves to too many musical numbers or wacky hijinks, but of course, there is a bit of that. There is also the lack of treacly, live-action sentiment that plagued “Song of the South” and “So Dear To My Heart” during this period.

Once again, the studio does its damndest to bring in the grown-ups by having Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby narrate the Frog and Ichabod stories, respectively (the title of the movie is actually backwards in terms of what gets presented first). Both are welcome additions and fit their stories well. Rathbone narrates “The Wind In the Willows,” which has a brisk pace, charming characters and feels just right in its half-hour time frame. The same goes for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which might test the patience for those waiting to see The Headless Horseman make an appearance. The film returns to the days when Disney movies weren’t afraid to get dark towards the end, which this one does, but not without a dose of slapstick to offset the scares (which also might put people off).

It all has a decidedly British feel to it, which might be an unconscious reaction to the all-American, patriotic flag waving that dominated the studio’s style during the WWII years, as well as all the American folktales that were prevalent during this “package films” era as well. If you watch the Disney films in order of their release dates (which I’m doing this year), “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad,” while not reaching classic Disney heights, brings a freshness to the studio’s work that had been missing for many years.


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