James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney
Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Eric Blore, J. Pat O'Malley, John McLeish, Colin Campbell, Campbell Grant
Washington Irving (story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"), Kenneth Grahame (story, "The Wind in the Willows"), Erdman Penner, Winston Hibler, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves
In the tradition of grand animated classics, Disney's 11th animated masterpiece, The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad, presents two unforgettable children's classics. Through award winning Disney animation wizardry, The Wind In The Willows and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow come together in one fabulous adventure - in its original theatrical format.
Hang on for the wild motorcar ride of J. Thaddeus Toad as he drives his friends Mole, Rat and Angus McBadger into a worried frenzy! Then meet the spindly Ichabod Crane, who dreams of sweeping beautiful Katrina Van Tassel off her feet, despite opposition from town bully Brom Bones, who also has his eye on Katrina. The comic rivalry introduces Ichabod to the legend of the Headless Horseman, resulting in a heart-thumping climax!
Wonderfully narrated by Basil Rathbone and Bing Crosby, The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad brims with high-spirited adventure, brilliant animation and captivating music you'll want to share with your family again and again.
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0
Runtime: 68 min.
Release Date: 8/12/2014
Available As Part of a Two-Movie Collection
• The Reluctant Dragon Documentary
• Sneak Peeks
• Bonus DVD
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad [Blu-Ray] (1949)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 11, 2014)
After a few glorious films that didn't inspire the requisite box office income, Walt Disney scaled back his animation department’s ambitions in the mid-to-late 1940s. The studio ran low on money and though these more basic titles didn't offer great movie-making, they did help Disney get back on their financial feet.
To be sure, the animation in these films seems fine but it simply falls far short of the levels set in classics like Pinocchio or Bambi. The main difference between the "meat and potatoes" movies and the more elaborate productions that preceded them, however, came from the nature of the storytelling within them. The movies generally regarded as Disney's best work delivered full narratives, whereas the "M&P" titles provide collections of different tales. Most of these pack in a slew of brief segments, but a couple split into two "long shorts". 1947's Fun and Fancy Free did this, as does 1949's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Ichabod ended the “meat and potatoes” era; it was Disney's final “multiple narrative” film until 1977's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. However, the latter didn’t start life as an anthology; it simply gathered three previously released shorts into one package.
One should view the anthologies for what they are: modest efforts that can't be expected to match up with the finer offerings from Disney. Some are pretty good (Fun and Fancy Free), some are fairly lame (The Three Caballeros), but most are simply… okay. They provide moderate entertainment for an hour or so, and that's that. None of the projects present the depth, complexity and magic of the studio's stronger films, but they all can be seen as intermittently fun programs.
Happily, Ichabod stands as one of the better of the compilation films; in fact, it may well be my favorite of the lot. As previously mentioned, the 68-minute movie splits into two separate tales. We start with an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows that focuses on a certain J. Thaddeus Toad. This 34-minute feature condenses the book into one quick story that offers a fairly hectic but entertaining experience.
In a way, "Mr. Toad" reminded me a lot of 1951's Alice in Wonderland. Both films share a certain anarchic energy about them, and they become two of the few older (pre-Nineties) Disney pictures that made me laugh. While I find many of those movies entertaining and charming, they rarely seem funny. That’s not a problem with "Mr. Toad", which includes quite a few genuinely amusing segments, such as when the "auto-mania" strikes Toad. Scenes like that feel well-executed and amusing.
At times "Mr. Toad" comes across like a rushed story, but I generally find it to be satisfying and entertaining. If anything, the brisk pacing suits the tale's "wild ride" and helps make it that much more energetic and frantic. "Mr. Toad" surprised me in that it offered a very fun and delightful experience.
I also like 31-minute "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", but not nearly as much, partly because of the manner in which the tale gets told. As with "Bongo" on Fun and Fancy Free, "Sleepy Hollow" features no voices other than those provided by a narrator; here we hear Bing Crosby as our storyteller. Der Bingle does a good job with the part, but I must admit I'm not especially wild about the format; it worked pretty well with "Bongo" because the characters displayed a lot of visual charm, but "Sleepy Hollow" lacks similar presence.
In fact, "Sleepy Hollow" offers some of the least-likable characters to be found in a Disney tale, at least as they're depicted here. Our protagonist Ichabod Crane is nothing more than a selfish jerk who uses his completely-inexplicable appeal to women to get what he wants, while erstwhile foe Brom Bones is a burly bully who thinks might makes right. In the middle of a love triangle is sexy young Katrina Van Tassel, a buxom hottie who clearly likes to utilize her ample charms to get attention.
Surprisingly, though he strongly reminds me of the evil Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Brom comes across as the more acceptable of the
two male characters here. Ichabod really seems like an objectionable personality, and since Brom ends up suffering because of Icky's behavior, I feel a bit more compassion for him. (Not a lot, mind you, but a bit.)
Despite this roster of less-than-pleasant participants, "Sleepy Hollow" makes for a generally entertaining experience. It drags at times, and I could live without Bing's crooning, though I can't quibble with the latter element too much; after all, what's the point of hiring Bing is he won't sing? In any case, I think "Sleepy Hollow" seems less entertaining than the thoroughly terrific "Mr. Toad", but it works pretty well in its own right.
Overall, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad serves as a moderately satisfying piece of vintage Disney animation. Though the program doesn't match up with the studio's better fare, it offers enough solid entertainment to merit a look.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus B
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a satisfying presentation.
Sharpness seemed pleasing. Only the slightest amount of softness crept in on rare occasion, so the majority of the film offered nice delineation and accuracy. I witnessed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and the movie lacked edge haloes. Print flaws stayed minimal; I noticed a small speck or two but nothing more than that.
Colors looked strong. The cartoons delivered a bright, broad palette that came across as lively and full. Blacks were dark and dense while shadows showed nice smoothness and delineation. This wasn’t quite an “A”-level presentation but it seemed pretty terrific.
I encountered more mixed feelings toward the film's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Don’t expect much from the soundscape, though "Sleepy Hollow" presented a more aggressive mix than did "Mr. Toad". All of the dialogue and most of the effects stayed in the middle speaker; most of the time, we heard only music from the side channels in a modest stereo mix that added a little breadth to the track.
The surrounds contributed light reinforcement of the score during "Mr. Toad" but this became more prominent during "Sleepy Hollow". The music seemed more prominent in the back speakers, and some effects - particularly during Ichabod's late-night traipse through the Hollow - echoed in the rears. None of this became especially involving, but the elements broadened the sonic horizons a bit.
Dialogue sounded intelligible enough, though not especially warm; the lines remained fine for their era but they could be a little brittle. Effects fell into the same category, as they failed to demonstrate much heft but they appeared clean enough.
Music fared best of all, as the score showed some richness and depth; it didn't come across as terrifically well-reproduced, but the songs were fairly smooth and clear. All in all, the audio seemed quite listenable and adequate for its era.
How does this Blu-ray compare with the original DVD from 2000? Music remained similar; the lossless mix might’ve had a little more kick but its era-related limitations kept it from much improvement. Visuals offered more obvious growth, however, as the Blu-ray looked substantially sharper, cleaner and bolder than the unappealing DVD.
One minor change came from the DVD, as the Blu-ray appeared to lose a little image around the edges. The cropping didn’t seem severe, but it did exist.
The Blu-ray includes one significant bonus: the 1941 documentary The Reluctant Dragon. When I saw Dragon listed as an extra here, I figured the disc would simply include the cartoon of the same name, so I felt pleased to get the entire one-hour, 13-minute, 36-second program with Robert Benchley.
For my extensive thoughts on Dragon, please click here. To summarize, the documentary doesn’t exactly give us an in-depth look at the creation of Disney animation, but it remains fun and enjoyable. The addition of some exclusive shorts makes it even more of a winner.
The Blu-ray presents Dragon in surprisingly strong fashion as well. The 2003 DVD on which it originally appeared came with a lot of issues, but the Blu-ray looked quite good, and it came with more than adequate Dolby Digital monaural audio. I’d probably have purchased a Blu-ray with Dragon on its own, so its inclusion here as an extra adds a ton of value to the set.
The disc opens with ads for Sleeping Beauty and Legend of the Neverbeast. Sneak Peeks adds a promo for Disneynature: Bears. No trailer for Ichabod appears here.
A second disc delivers a DVD copy of Ichabod. This comes with a “Legend of Sleepy Hollow Storybook” but no other extras, which means we lose the vintage shorts found on the original DVD.
As with the other "package" films made by Disney in the 1940s, Fun and Fancy Free will probably be more popular with collectors than with general audiences, but it’s still a lot of fun. Both of the film's two cartoons and charming and entertaining, and the program as a whole works nicely. The Blu-ray provides strong visuals and decent audio as well as one notable supplement. I like the movie well enough and feel pleased with this attractive Blu-ray.
Note that The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad can be purchased solely as part of a two-movie set. The Blu-ray also includes 1947’s Fun and Fancy Free.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD