03 October 2006

Ink Blots XXXII - The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

What theme could you make for October other than Monster Month? Well, here it is.

During World War II, Disney made a series of lower cost anthology features including Melody Time, and Make Mine Music. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad marks the return toward full length animated features, preparing the way for Cinderella. This film contains just two 30+ minute films focusing on "famous characters in literature."

First up is Mr. Toad from the Wind in the Willows. J. Thaddeus Toad is introduced as are his friends Badger, Rat, and Mole. Mr. Toad loves riding his horse and carriage around, until he finds a new "mania"- the motor car. His buddies lock up Mr. Toad until he gets the lust for the motor car out of his system. You see, Mr. Toad is running up huge debt with his hobbies. Next we see, Mr. Toad is arrested, accused of stealing a motor car. Did he do it? That is what the rest of the film seeks to discover through various courtroom shenanigans, jailbreaks, and a showdown with Winky and the weasels. One of the greatest things about this film is that it served as inspiration for the awesome Disneyland attraction Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

The second story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, tells the tale of Ichabod Crane the Colonial schoolteacher and his courtship of the beautiful Katrina. This adventure is narrated by none other than Bing Crosby. The characters themselves for the most part remain silent. Things are going great for "Icky" until after a Halloween party when he come face-to-face, or rather face-to-neck-hole with the Headless Horseman. It is during this scene that the film really justifies its existence. As Ichabod rides down the path through Sleepy Hollow, he is confronted by various shrieks, creaks, and moans, and the animation helps to add to the chilling mood.

Watching these two segments did not really leave me feeling like I had just been entertained by a full length movie. While the stories were both fine, they were not spectacular by any means. Only the encounter with the Headless Horseman was really great, establishing the Headless one as a truly frightening monster. Still, there was not anything in this film that I hated. Thus these adventures take home a C+.

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