In the 1940s, Walt Disney Animation Studios was not doing very well financially. For the past seven years, the company had been most devoted to making films known as "package films" which were generally many shorts films compiled together to make a full-length feature. The reason behind this is because their last full-length film that wasn't a package film, "Bambi" lost the studio lots of money due to the film not making money in Europe because of the ongoing Second World War. As for their package films, most of them range from being okay to decent. However, "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" is an exception. This film cleverly adapts two classic novels and treats them in a very faithful manner. For this review, I am judging both segments as their own separate piece as I think it would be the fair thing to do.
The first segment is "The Wind in the Willows" (narrated by Basil Rathbone) which follows on the wealthy and rambunctious J. Thaddeus Toad. He is obsessed with the many fads and his crazy adventures have brought him to the brink of bankruptcy much to the dismay of his friends Moley, Ratty and MacBadger. After Toad's attention is turned to getting the latest invention of a motorcar, he is determined to get the new device only to find himself arrested for car theft. During a trial, it is revealed that he had traded the car for his own estate Toad Hall. Not wanting to give more details away, I will now discuss the second segment of the movie which is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (narrated by Bing Crosby). In 1790, a strange but charming man named Ichabod Crane moves to the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York to become the towns new schoolteacher. While he does win the hearts of the women in the town, he also gets the jealousy of the town hero Brom Bones. Ichabod then falls in love with the daughter of the richest man in town named Katrina and vows to try to get her to marry him in order to get her fathers money. What happens next is him and Brom competing for the hand of Katrina and the famous climax involving the Headless Horseman.
Out of the many package films that Disney has released, this one was clearly the best. What works about this film where the others failed is the fact that the two stories have shown to actually work together. The balance of a story with a happy and uplifting tone combined with the story featuring the dark sinister tone set the mood up perfectly resulting in a very enjoyable movie. Both stories have funny and memorable moments and are very good adaptations in their own right. The animation is top notch as always for Disney's earlier films. The colors are just right and match the moods of the movies perfectly. As for the characters, I love how memorable and funny they can be. I think more laughs came from me during "The Wind in the Willows" segment mainly because of the character of Cyril. I also love the entire climax from the "Sleepy Hollow" segment which can easily be considered a Halloween classic.
"The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" is not one of Disney's best films, but I think it has plenty of memorable moments that I can highly recommend it. The two stories are fantastic, the animation is beautiful and the characters are memorable in the right ways. It's usually rare for two different stories are paired together and work perfectly, but in this case, it definitely works.