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The Adventures of
Ichabod and Mr. Toad

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Disney, DVD, 1949, Rated G, 68 min.

In the late 1940's Disney was facing financial crisis. The war had reduced profits and personal conflicts with Walt caused many of the company's top animators to leave. In response Disney released several quickly produced multi-story shorts to stay solvent. The last of which was the award winning, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

As a child I always looked forward to seeing the yearly broadcast of Ichabod from our local TV station until inexplicably, they stopped broadcasting it. It faded in my memory until the release of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow in 1999. While a much different movie, Sleepy Hollow brought back fond childhood recollections of Disney's skittish and loveable Ichabod Crane so it was with great joy that I laid down my money when I spotted this gem at the video store.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is two stories combined. Mr. Toad is based on Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. While enjoyable it isn't Halloween related so this review will stick mainly to the 31 minutes of Ichabod.

Ichabod is based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. The story is set in the tiny New England town of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane, the new schoolmaster, falls for the town beauty, Katrina Van Tassel. The town bully, Brom Bones, also desires the fair Katrina and decides that Ichabod is little too successful in his courting and needs "convincing" that Katrina is not for him. At the Van Tassel's Halloween party Brom makes one final attempt to scare Ichabod away by telling him the legend of the Headless Horseman. After the party Ichabod learns first hand that the story is true!

Perhaps a little unusual by today's standards, the characters have no voices of their own. The story is completely related to the viewer through the narrator. Bing Crosby does a fine job as the narrator and has several fine songs. Some may find his crooning corny and dated but both the Hauntmistress and myself found it to be just as charming as the animation itself.

One thing that struck me over and over again was how much I loved this movie as a child and how reprehensible the characters are to me as an adult. Don't get me wrong I still thoroughly enjoyed the film, when I wasn't thinking about the characters, but at times I just couldn't sit back, relax and enjoy them.

For example, take the character of Ichabod Crane. On the surface a loveable goof of a fellow with his lanky features, large nose, and effeminate ways. However, when you think about his behavior in the film you see that he is just a womanizer that takes advantage of his almost inexplicable sex appeal to the opposite sex for his own lazy means.

Then there is the beautiful Katrina Van Tassel, an attention hungry woman who uses her ample charms to get men to behave like well healed dogs. While this behavior is perhaps less offensive in the 21st century than Ichabod's, it is still not a role one generally wants their daughters to aspire to. 

Rounding out the trio of main characters is the big and burly Brom Bones. A harsh and rough hewn character who uses physical intimidation to remove competition for whatever he desires.

If this same cartoon was put out today, based on the characters, I'm not sure it would become the classic it is. This is not to say it has no redeeming qualities because it still is a wonderful story.

 The overall quality of the DVD was much less than I expected from a Disney production. There are numerous instances of hair and other foreign matter showing up on the images. Colors were less vibrant and lines less sharp than I remember as a child. While this didn't dramatically affect viewing the feature it was somewhat of a disappointment.

Most annoying were problems with the menus and special features. It was very difficult to get this DVD to play. On the box it says it is in a dual layer format and a slight pause is to be expected but a slight pause wasn't experienced. A flat out halt was more likely. Even with a recent DVD player in both TV and computer, problems were experienced with both systems to varying levels.

These problems aside, the main feature is well worth a rent for adults and a must rent for your children but I wouldn't buy the DVD unless you can be sure you will be able to see all of the scenes and special features on your player. The VHS version while missing some of the DVD's special features may be a more trouble free choice.

Ichabod riding into Sleepy Hollow Katrina and Ichabod dancing at the Van Tassel's Halloween party Brom relates the tale of the Headless Horseman The spooky woods surrounding Sleepy Hollow Ichabod encounters the Headless Horseman The Headless Horseman The next morning, did Ichabod survive his run-in with the Headless Horseman? Some say Ichabod is still alive others think the horseman claimed Ichabod's head as his own

DVD special features include a good amount of features, however few worked when viewed on my computer and even fewer worked when viewed through the TV. Where the problem was I can't be sure. The disc appeared undamaged, however it seemed that there were problems in the way Disney encoded the dual layers of the DVD.

If you get the special features to work there are the following features:

  • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride Destination Trivia Game - This worked on the computer but not my TV. In the game you guide Mr. Toad's car to Toad Hall by answering trivia questions about the story. This should be fun for very young children but might not carry the interest of older children very long. Once you successfully answer all the questions you get a "special gift". However, selecting play to see the gift crashed my DVD player so it is unknown what the special gift is.
  • Lonesome Ghosts Cartoon - Did not work on either the computer or the TV.
  • The Merrily Song Sing-Along - Did not work on either the computer or the TV.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Storybook - Did not work on the computer but was able to run for several pages on the TV. From what I could see this allowed you to read the story of Ichabod Crane or have it read to you. Would be a fun activity for parent and child if you get the feature to work.

Do you think we got this movie totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this movie in our forums!

 

QUICK FACTS

Studio

Disney

Genre

Animation

Rating

G

Length

68 Minutes

Color

Yes

Sound

Yes

http://www.disneyvideo.com/

Reviewed by: Hauntmaster 8/29/2003

 
   

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