Blogging Disney: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
What IS The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad? It's a two-part feature, like Fun and Fancy Free was. The film begins in a library, and the first narrator (Basil Rathbone, for you movie buffs) asks what the most fabulous character in English lit is. He rattles off a few before choosing an unlikely one: J. Thaddeus Toad (more widely known as plain old Toad) from the novel The Wind in the Willows.
The short feature starts. On the riverbank, Mole and Rat are just settling down to tea when they receive a letter from their friend MacBadger.
MacBadger's note tells Rat and Mole to hurry to Toad Hall, where MacBadger is busy putting Toad's finances together. Regrettably, MacBadger seems to have evolved human hands.
Maybe that's why Toad has him doing the writing.
When Rat and Mole arrive, MacBadger tells them that a "mania" has taken Toad again.
Question: These animals all have names that are their species. Does that mean there are two Rats or five Moles? This could get confusing, especially for mailmen.
Rat and Mole catch up with Toad, who's traipsing around the English countryside in a yellow "canary" cart, which is neither a bird nor full of birds.
Toad introduces them to his horse, who is not named Horse, but Cyril. This is getting confusing.
Rat (who looks like a mouse Sherlock Holmes with a serial killer 'stache) replies by berating Toad.
Toad refuses to listen to Rat and Mole. He leaves and is almost immediately driven off the shoulder by a motorcar. Motorcars become Toad's new mania, and Rat and Mole help him putt-putt-putt on his butt back to Toad Hall.
Interesting to note that the furniture in Toad Hall—or some of it—seems to be made for humans...but Toad's ancestors are all toads. Oddly not-to-scale furniture? Now THAT's what I call a haunted mansion.
Toad escapes from Toad Hall and ends up in jail after stealing a motorcar. In court, he tries to call on the Monopoly Man's evil twin brother to testify that he actually traded the car for Toad Hall with a bunch of weasels, but the witness recants and the court judges Toad guilty. While spending time in the stony lonesome, Toad breaks down.
Cyril the horse comes to visit dressed as Toad's grandma, and brings Toad a washerwoman's outfit.
Question: How did the guards possibly let THIS one slide? If Cyril is masquerading as a human, there is no way Toad could be his grandson. If he's masquerading as a horse that likes to wear human clothes, same problem (although this could explain the whole badly-sized furniture problem in Toad's mansion).
Toad escapes and nearly faints on Rat's doorstep, where Mole and Rat are having Christmas dinner. MacBadger bursts in on the three and tells them that Toad Hall has a pest problem: weasels.
MacBadger says that Toad is actually innocent since Evilopoly Man and the weasels have the deed to Toad Hall. But, strangely, this reasoning leads him to conclude that they need to get the deed from Evilopoly Man to prove Toad innocent.
Wouldn't calling the police in to perform a sting operation do the trick? MacBadger has the hands of a human and the brains of a rubber duck.
The four launch a mission to take back Toad Hall through a secret tunnel.
The weasels appear to have guns. (Did you know that weasels are related to wolverines? It's true. No big deal.) Toad has a gun too, and he nearly blasts a weasel's head off before the attack even starts. Animals should not be given guns.
They try to retrieve the title deed from the sleeping Evilopoly Man. An investigative weasel interrupts Mole, Rat, Toad and MacBadger's snitchery and all hell breaks loose. Evilopoly Man and his henchmen try to get the deed back and it passes hands for several minutes while the weasels throw knives, axes, halberds and other things that are sharp at our daring quartet (quarto?).
But eventually, they escape with the deed and Toad is exonerated. Yay!
The first segment ends, and you know who narrates the second half? Bing Crosby! He begins to talk about a no less eccentric character from American literature: Ichabod Crane, from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Ichabod Crane has the physique of a dinner fork and the nose of a dinner fork with a nose. He's a schoolteacher who comes to the town of Sleepy Hollow with one intent; polite pillaging. See, Ichabod not only has a weakness for good cooking, his metabolism seems to be comparable to Galactus. He gets invited over to all the houses with good mistresses and dines on their food.
And for some reason, the ladies all love him. Although, if I was voiced by Bing Crosby (especially when I sing), the ladies would probably all love me too.
The antagonist of this short film is the good-lookin' Davy Crockett-impersonating Brom Bones, who can drink mugs full of beer and still curve dramatically in at the hips.
It seems Sleepy Hollow is cursed with only one attractive male and one attractive female. We'll get to her next.
Brom Bones pulls a few lighthearted pranks on the schoolteacher at first, but when Katrina Van Tassel, the rich, impossibly thin, Dutch bonnet-wearing heiress begins to notice Ichabod, Brom resorts to psychological warfare.
It's Halloween night and Van Tassel (Katrina's father) is hosting a party at his home. There's a dance, and like he does at everything, Ichabod totally skunks Brom.
This is kinda nice, you know? To see a nerd totally, effortlessly handing a jock's rear end to him on a silver platter. It turns out nerds were cool before nerds were cool. Ichabod's a hipster!
But Ichabod has one downfall: he's super superstitious. It's hinted at throughout the feature, but stated outright here. Brom knows this is the only way to get Ichabod off his catch, so when it's storytime, Brom begins to tell the tale of the Headless Horseman.
The Headless Horseman had his head cut off, became a ghost, and, like most ghosts, felt the need to make society pay for his misfortune. Once a year, he replaces his head with a new one, which he cuts off with his sword. And, of course, the night of the party just happens to be that night.
On the way home, Ichabod runs into the Headless Horseman, who chases him around in a scene that's really hilarious and not really frightening.
Ichabod hightails it out of Freaky Hollow, and is never heard from again. Common theme in both these stories: no sense of justice. What happens, happens.
Why Kids Should Watch This Flick: This movie has weasels. This movie has guns. This movie has headless people. A movie with any one of these things is simply fabulous, but with all three? These kinds of gems need to be passed on to future generations! Who cares if they destroyed the original material, probably while laughing maniacally and sprinkling lighter fluid on an original signed copy?
Who's ready for another princess movie? Next week, Scott's covering Cinderella!
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