The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

adventures of ichabod and mr toad poster 1949 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic Disney, The Headless Horseman

Dull Mr. Toad, very short

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s): Comedy/Horror/Animated/Family

Release Date(s): October 5, 1949

MPAA Rating: G

adventures of ichabod and mr toad horse

We’re here to stall until the Headless Horseman

Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. has car fever and will do anything to satisfy it.  When he’s accused of stealing a car, his friends Ratty, Moley, and MacBadger question if it could be possible.  With Toad Hall in danger, Mr. Toad, Ratty, Moley, and MacBadger must find the truth.  Ichabod Crane sees the lovely Katrina van Tassel as a perfect mate.  When Brom Bones challenges Ichabod, a late night Halloween party could bring out the legendary Headless Horseman.

Directed by Jack Kinney, Clyde Geronimi, and James Algar, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is the eleventh Disney Animated Feature following Melody Time in 1948.  The film adapts stories from Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows and Washington Irving’s 1820 short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.  It is the last of Disney’s package films which developed during the 1940s and World War II.

When I was little the Headless Horseman the Wolfman were my nightmare creatures.  A friend’s record of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and this movie helped cement my fear.  While I do love the Ichabod portion of the film, I’ve never been a fan of The Wind in the Willows.

adventures of ichabod and mr toad disney headless horseman

Ghost story or elaborate hoax?

To clarify, there is nothing really wrong with the Mr. Toad portion of the film.  The acting of Toad is strong and the story is something that is probably a little hard for kids to connect to (aka pre-car and car fever), but children do know about the desire to have the newest thing so that maintains its appeal.  I just feel the pacing and telling of the story is somewhat lacking, and I’ve never found the Toad character very likable.

The Ichabod Crane portion of the film, however, is one of my favorite Disney shorts.  The story must expand Irving’s story by increasing the courting and party sequences, but Disney maintains the fun.  The short portion that adapts Ichabod’s night is both true to the story and terrifying (with a lot of jokes built in as well).  As a kid, I didn’t get the nuances of the story (and that it all could be a fake), and that is part of the fun of Halloween and the holiday.

adventures of ichabod and mr toad headless horseman disney

Nope…not terrifying at all

The animation is strong for both sequences of the film.  It is classic Disney and the character designs are great.  I like how Mr. Toad, his friends, and characters like Winky look (even if the story doesn’t do much for me).  The Ichabod story has the great character design of Ichabod with his big flappy feet, hands, and head make him memorable, but he still blends in with the other character designs of the story like the muscle bound Brom, the petite Katrina, and the man-hungry “full bodied” girl at the party…they are radically different, but they still look like they can exist together.

With great voice work (including the narration of Bing Crosby for Ichabod), a solid story, and great visuals, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is a good entry in the early Disney canon.  The movie has both Christmas (in Mr. Toad) and Halloween (in Ichabod) so it has a lot of holiday appeal (I often watch the Ichabod portion at Halloween).  Disney was in a tricky spot at this point, but even its so-so films are have appeal in how Disney continued to innovate.  Disney returned to full length features with its next film Cinderella in 1950.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response