We’ve made it my friends. The end of the package films!!
And I’m glad to say this last one is the best, and it continues Disney’s great tradition of taking risks and doing things that are unexpected. Next we have:
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad was released in 1949 and did well at the box office but became a fixture of the 1980’s and 90’s airing on Disney channel around Halloween. Both of the stories of Ichabod Crane and Toad are pretty dark for Disney but then again Disney has often been pretty dark. The devil in Fantasia. Pleasure Island in Pinocchio. The haunted forest in Snow White.
One of my favorite critics on youtube, the Nostalgia Critic, has a great series Disneycember which is worth checking out and he has this video on why we so often scare children in movies. It has some foul language but his points are solid.
Return to Oz was too much for me but the other scenes and movies he mentions I remember being scared by and Ichabod and Mr Toad was one of the first to have that effect, especially in Ichabod’s story.
We start off in a library where we hear the first of our narrators, Basil Rathborne. He is going to take us into the trevails of Mr Toad. He says he is one of the greatest characters of British literature. As good as ‘Robin Hood, King Arthur, Oliver Twist- all subjects of later Disney movies!
Wind in the Willows
We start off with the story of Mr Toad. We meet his friends- badger, rat and mole who are trying to help Toad with his finances.
I’m sure it’s no accident that rat and mole look a lot like Sherlock Holmes and Watson which of course narrator Rathborne played for many years.
Toad has these obsessions or manias. Usually things that go fast and as soon as he see’s a motorcar he must have one.
Despite his friends locking him up in his room he makes a deal with some weasels to sell the car but ends up getting framed for stealing said car. He goes to court in a pretty intense and scary scene
He is framed by the weasels and their friend and goes to jail and loses Toad Hall. His friends are devastated but they do not give up hope to find a way to free their friend.
Jailbreaks, chases and even a little bit of Christmas time come into play and it is all very exciting and well done. It never loses the slightly odd dark, eccentric style that makes a Disney movie stand out.
Eventually Toad is vindicated and all is well…until the next obsession!
I kind of like that things aren’t made perfect in the end. That’s good for kids to see not all problems are tied up in a bow at the end and not everyone we love will behave the way we want them too. Sometimes you can’t help but be a little nuts!
Also a side note all of the characters of Wind and the Willows will appear in the short Mickey’s Christmas Carol in the Fuzziwig scenes and the merchants asking for donations.
It is also worth nothing Wind and the Willows did create one of the best Disneyland rides. In that ride Toad not only goes to jail but to Hell as well!
Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Icabod Crane)
The next segment is one of the first ghost stories I think I ever heard. It is narrated by Bing Crosby (who I just love!) and the characters actually don’t have much dialogue but the emotions are shown through narration and exaggerated gestures.
There is Ichabod Crane, the gangly school teacher. Katrina the pretty daughter of the richest man in town and Brom Bones the town bully. Brom would be eclipsed years later by Gaston but I can’t help but wonder if at least his character design was influential in Gaston’s design.
In the world of Disney villains Brom really isn’t that bad. He just wants to win the heart of Katrina just like Ichabod but he is by no means a real villain. That comes with the Headless Horseman!
It is interesting that Ichabod’s motives aren’t exactly pure with Katrina. He fantasizes about what he will do with all her money. In fact, he really doesn’t think about her and how beautiful she is much. There is not the instant love we see in nearly every early Disney fairy tale (but then again neither of these stories are actually fairy tales).
Brom is feeling jealous of all the attention Ichabod is getting from Katrina so knowing Ichabod is superstitious he starts telling the tale of the Headless Horseman. On his way home from the dance Ichabod sees:
Now that is pretty scary!!! Certainly scary enough for Ichabod who runs far away, marries some other rich person and Brom gets the girl. Kind of an odd ending but I like it!
What about you? Did you think either of these stories were good as a kid? Did you like ghost stories and to be scared?
The animation in both are smooth and the music is a lot of fun especially the Bing Crosby numbers. It is a fitting way to end out the package films with a bang!
So which of the 6- Saludos Amigos, Three Cabelleros, Make Mine Music, Fun Fancy Free, Melody Time and Ichabod and Mr Toad, sound the most interesting to you? Have my reviews made you curious to watch any of them? I must admit I am ready to go back to fairy tales and full length movies but it’s been fun to learn about a whole era of Disney animation and artistry. Thanks for reading!
And on to one of my favorites Cinderella!
Overall Grade- A