Thank goodness we’ve finally reached our last package film (at least for another 51 years.) I’m glad Jon appreciated this film, because frankly, Ichabod bores me.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a forgotten film, but not as forgotten as Make Mine Music and the like.
The original title of the film was “Two Fabulous Characters.” I’m glad it changed. There’s more than two characters and I would hardly call Ichabod “fabulous.” Augh. Anyway. Moving on.
First up, Basil Rathbone (from Sherlock Holmes fame) introduces an odd array of British books and settles on The Wind in the Willows. (Basil would later be given a tribute in another Disney film – The Great Mouse Detective, having the main character named after himself.)
Now, I can’t really talk about this segment as a comparison to the novel. I’ve never read it. Walt got the rights to the film in 1938, so this film was 10+ years in the making (Although there was a pause because of the war.) Both shorts (Ichabod and Mr. Toad) were originally meant to be full length films. After Disney realized The Adventures of Mr. Toad wasn’t going to make it as a full feature, they wanted to pair it with Mickey and the Beanstalk, but it was too long. So Bongo got stuck there instead and Mr. Toad met up with Ichabod. Whatever. Carry on.
Mr. Toad lives in Toad Hall, but unfortunately he is quite irresponsible with his fortune. Because of this, Angus MacBadger is in charge of the estate. Angus calls Toad’s friends, Rat and Mole, over because Toad has gone insane. And yes, Rat was designed to look like Sherlock Holmes.
Now we get our fabulous introduction to Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad (probably my favorite forgotten Disney character.) He is merrily merrily merrily merrily merrily on his way to nowhere in particular with his dear friend Cyril Proudbottom and their canary yellow horse-drawn cart. From the very second Toad appears on screen, you instantly know his character. You know exactly how he will act. Toad gets obsessed with anything that presents itself in front of him. Hence why he wants a car. Toad is fantastically done.
Anyway, Toad waltzes into a pub and trades the deed to Toad Hall for a car. Unfortunately, the car was stolen. Toad gets put in jail. There’s a trial. He gets put back in jail. He escapes by dressing up like a woman.
So, Cyril (yes, the horse) is dressed up like a grandma and goes to visit Toad on Christmas. He brought a granny suit for Toad, too. Apparently, this plan works? The jail guards believe that a HUGE horse-sized granny went in and a small toad-sized granny came out? Oh okay. WHAT!?
Eventually it is found that Toad is innocent and he gets Toad Hall back, after an epic battle with lots of sharp weapons and paper airplanes. Hurrah.
I think most of this film would go over kids’ heads, but that’s okay because Toad is fabulous. Who cares about the plot?
So. Why does Sarah care about this segment? Three reasons, as a matter of fact.
1. The character of Mr. Toad. He’s memorable, he’s funny, he’s mad.
2. The use of both animals and humans in the film. Winkey, the barkeep, the police, lawyers, and some random background characters were all human whereas Angus, Cyril, Mr. Toad, Rat and Mole are animals. We’ve seen that before. Nothing remarkable about that. However, the worlds were perfectly integrated. The animals were much smaller than the humans (although not true to size) and they acted seamlessly. The cars, horse-drawn cart, etc. weren’t animal sized or adapted. It wasn’t awkward that there was a crossover. I don’t know why there were both humans and animals, but it worked well.
Sarah, it’s just a ride. Who cares? There’s one in Disneyland still (but the Disneyland one is different)
Well, I care.
You boarded a motorcar on one of two sides of a track. It was a dark ride, first taking you through Toad Hall. The car almost ran into several things. It was “wild,” so they say. The two tracks had different scenes…taking you through the courtroom, a gypsy camp, a train that almost hits you…(clearly, this has very little to do with the film) and then last but not least, IT TAKES YOU THROUGH HELL. Appropriate, NOPE. Did I love it? YES!
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was closed down forever in 1998. It was then replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Today, two tributes still stand in WDW for Mr. Toad:
A picture of Mr. Toad handing the deed to Toad Hall to Owl (located inside the Winnie the Pooh ride).
And a tombstone in the pet cemetery of the Haunted Mansion.
The Ichabod segment used to be played on Halloween night on the Disney Channel (when they actually played their own classic material.) Disney also segmented it further where they cut Ichabod out completely and just kept the part about the headless horseman. I would definitely prefer it this way. The first 2/3s of this film bore me to no end. Sorry, buddy, don’t care about you or your love life. In fact, he was kind of a jerk…only going to date women for their food.
The only thing I will say is that I agree with Jon….the Beauty and the Beast animators must have looked at Brom Bones and that creepy guy.
NEXT WEEK: CINDERELLA! (something I can care about again. YAY!)