THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad tells two stories a condensed version of Kenneth Grahames classic The Wind in the Willows (1908) and an adaptation of Washington Irvings classic horror story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820). Of the two, the Wind in the Willows adaptation Mr Toad comes out the best. The film does a good job of condensing The Wind in the Willows to just over half-an-hour in length. All the essentials of the story are covered and feel neither hurried nor excessively compacted. The segment is an immensely lively piece with crazed chases across the countryside and a standout sequence where the foursome venture into Toad Hall to get the deed back with Mole being winched down on a rope but his hat being blown away by the weasels snoring, and a madcap race to get the deed, which has been made into a paper dart, with they diving under the carpet and snatching a pair of bellows to try and stop it from falling into the fireplace. The character of Toad is a joyous lunatic indeed, Toad is one of the most deliriously manic characters that Disney had ever put to screen.
On the other hand, while Mr Toad is a delight, the Ichabod Crane segment comes out a more mixed piece. The comic scenes between Ichabod and Brahm Bones tend to too much of a mawkish cuteness. The build-up to the appearance of the Headless Horseman is good, with Ichabod being scared out of his wits by everything the rustling of the wind, tapping flora sounding like drumming hoofbeats, frogs appearing to croak his name, glow-worms in a tree hollow looking like the face of a ghost. The actual appearance of the Horseman as a demonic vision all in flaming red is genuinely fantastic, although the fieriness of this sequence is undercut by the intrusion of the slapstick comedy elsewhere.
The thrust of Ichabod Crane also comes across as mixed. The way the story is written, Ichabod Crane is meant to come across as a pompous windbag who gets what he deserves, while Brahm Bones is meant to be seen as a decent down-to-earth guy who eventually wins through and gets the girl. However, the way it is played on screen, Ichabod comes across as a bumbling, likeably clever nebbish while Brahm is seen as bad-tempered and bullying. This makes the eventual comeuppance of the story mixed, as it seems that the wrong characters end up getting their just desserts. Certainly, Ichabod Crane is a much more faithful adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow than the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow (1999) was.
Both Mr Toad and Ichabod Crane were released separately as short films by Disney The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1958) and The Wind in the Willows/The Madcap Adventures of Mr Toad (1975).
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