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With: (voices) Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone, Eric Blore, J. Pat O'Malley, John Ployardt, Colin Campbell, Campbell Grant, Claud Allister
Written by: Erdman Penner, Winston Hibler, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves, based on stories by Washington Irving, Kenneth Grahame
Directed by: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 68
Date: 10/05/1949

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Citizen Crane

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was made at a time when Walt Disney's initial ambitions had been dashed by WWII, finances, and various other factors and was forced to cut back on the massive resources he had used on his original five masterpieces (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi). The animation here is not quite as smooth, not quite as rich, and has a general lack of depth. In the first, J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. is a sucker for new fads and becomes taken with a new invention, the motor car (it's based on a children's novel published in 1908). In the second, new schoolteacher Ichabod Crane tries to woo the beautiful Katrina van Tassel, but his rival Brom Bones scares him off with a tale of the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the Headless Horseman.

I remember seeing the latter as a separate short in school, perhaps at Halloween time, and being entranced by it. What I remember, though, Ichabod's spooky ride home after the Halloween party, is relatively short, and not nearly as impressive as it seemed. Moreover, Ichabod is presented as a greedy glutton, mainly interested in Katrina's family farm (both for its food and its cash), whereas Brom, who seems like a bully, is actually the better match for her. Maybe some childhood memories are better left as memories. But that's not to say that the movie is a complete failure; it definitely has its Disney charms, and more than a few delightful moments. Maybe certain kids will still get a tingle watching it during the holidays.

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