Pour yourselves a victory drink, ladies and gentlemen — this is the end of the package films! After this, it’s smooth sailing into the nostalgia of the ‘golden age’ of Disney feature films. For now, settle in for the final package film of the 1940’s, comprised of two stories from classic literature, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Wind in the Willows. But just what do these two things have in common?! I don’t know – we’ll find out!
The Film: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
- The original title was “Two Fabulous Characters.”
- Bing Crosby is in it!
- So is Basil Rathbone!!
- In Ichabod, Brom Bones became the inspiration for Gaston in the much-later Beauty and the Beast.
- There’s a Disney legend that says one animator left working on Wind in the Willows to join the army, and four years later, he returned to work on the exact same sequence — just goes to show how much time went into these films, and how difficult the schedules were due to the war.
- Katrina in Ichabod was closely modeled after Slue Foot Sue in Melody Time, and also Grace Martin in Make Mine Music. Although this isn’t a ‘true’ instance of Ye Olde Disney Re-Animated Cells (a la Jungle Book/Robin Hood), it’s darn close and it confirms how expensive animation was.
- Angus McBadger complains about Toad spending too much money; this is apparently a sneaky dig at Roy O. Disney who liked to rant about how his brother Walt was spending too carelessly.
- The Headless Horseman in Ichabod is — to this day — still cited in complaints from parents to Disney as being “too scary.” That’s some serious street cred.
- In 1938, after the release of Snow White, several animators urged Disney to grab the rights for the 1908 children’s novel The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Disney was skeptical and thought it would be “too corny” but he got the rights anyhow. They began working on it, but put everything on hold in 1941 due to America’s involvement in WWII.
“The Wind in the Willows”
- Well this is a super jolly tune for what’s inevitably going to be a strange and slightly scary journey…
- (after the naming of several “best British literary characters”) “Wait why wasn’t Sherlock Holmes on this list?? This sequence is narrated by Basil Rathbone and Sherlock wasn’t even mentioned.
- Hang on, the mail man is human, but everyone else is a rat or a mole or a badger or a toad?
- No, there’s more humans. I’m confused.
- Badger’s accent is terrible. It’s like, “Hey, man, thanks for doing the dialect coaching for this film… but… you’re fired. This is inexcusably awful. It’s offensively bad.”
- Toad is definitely insane. I think I read that there was a scene that got cut where he’s in a sanatorium. I can see why.
- The Fella: “Say! Do you know a daft aristocrat addicted to fads, impulse purchases, and risky living? Here’s one solution you may not have tried: HOUSE ARREST!”
- Cyril Proudbottom is such a hobbit name. This horse is properly doofy in accordance with the name, but it’s definitely a hobbit name first and foremost.
- “The witness may testify in his own words.” That is to say, rhyming couplets.
- The Fella: “They sent him to the TOWER?” Me: “This can’t be the real Tower. Where’s the graffiti on the walls? ‘Ralegh was here!'”
- These weasels are waaaAAAAAaaasted! though this is not the first instance of extreme drunkenness in a Disney film. #Pinocchio #Dumbo #SaludosAmigos #ThreeCaballeros #thelistgoeson
- INFINITE DAGGER THROWING! Roll 5d6 for your attack!
- And all is well… except Toad’s back on the wagon! Or rather, the peculiar airplane. Not the wagon. He already had a wagon. ROLL CREDITS.
- Bing Crosby is all “That’s nice, England, now oVER HERE IN AMERICAAAAA…”
- Ichabod, go home. That book is blank. You are reading a blank journal.
- Wait wait wait hold on. Ichabod is reading… and walking… and they’re all popping out of windows to gossip… in a little town… it’s a quiet village… hang on, THIS IS ACTUALLY BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
- Katrina is a baaaaabe. A ridiculously gorgeous woman for this level of country bumpkintude around her.
- Equally strange is how no one can really decide if Ichabod is hot or weird looking.
- Brom has fallen down a well! Brom, roll for fortitude.
- The trapdoor trick Brom pulls while Ichabod is dancing with Katrina is very It’s a Wonderful Life. “Whatsa matter, Othello? Jealous?”
- Somebody at this party replaced the regular pepper with cayenne without bothering to think if anyone might be allergic to it. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.
- The borrowed horse Ichabod has is definitely Cyril Proudbottom’s grandfather, George Proudbottom. Or they’re the same horse.
- The chase scene is bizarrely scary for how comical the actual action is… but then it just all ends so abruptly… No warning, no real closure or ease-down-out-of-it at all.
- Apparently the thing these two stories have in common is chase scenes. That’s what I got out of this.
Commedia Bonus: 20! Including picnic location swap with Katrina and the suitors, chase scenes, slapstick combat, Ichabod’s bottomless stomach/hingeless jaw/ability to defy gravity and anatomy with his physical contortions and stretches.