Cast & Crew
Two competing narrators, one English and one American, relate the stories of their countries' most fabulous characters: The first tale begins with Mole, a sweet but not very bright little animal, who is visiting his best friend, Water Rat, at his cozy den along an English riverbank. Mole and Rat are enjoying their afternoon tea when they are interrupted by a special delivery letter from Scottish financial advisor Angus MacBadger, who summons them to Toad Hall. The pair hurry to the hall, which is the grandest home on the riverbank, and belongs to their unconventional friend, J. Thaddeus Toad. Mole and Rat arrive as MacBadger is dismissing creditors who are demanding payment of Toad's debts, and MacBadger informs them that Toad's latest obsession is a yellow gypsy cart drawn by a horse named Cyril Proudbottom. Rat and Mole succeed in apprehending Toad as he and Cyril wreak havoc during their latest jaunt, but Toad is distracted from his friends's pleas for restraint when he sees a shiny motorcar. Toad quickly develops a mania for automobiles, and although his friends lock him in his bedroom, he escapes and acquires a car. Toad is then arrested for stealing the car, and acts as his own lawyer at his trial. Toad calls Cyril as a witness, and the horse describes how he and Toad bought the car from a dangerous gang of weasels drinking at a tavern presided over by Winky, the barman. Although Toad states that he traded Toad Hall for the car, the sly Winky lies on the stand, saying that Toad tried to sell him the stolen automobile. After Toad is convicted and sentenced to twenty years in prison, Cyril helps him to escape, and he flees to Rat's den. Rat, Mole and MacBadger then decide to help Toad retrieve the deed to Toad Hall from Winky and the weasels. After a daring encounter, the friends succeed in obtaining the deed, and later, Toad is exonerated of the charges against him. Although Toad promises to reform, he and Cyril soon develop a new mania for airplanes.
Another fabulous character from American literature, is schoolteacher Ichabod Crane, who lives in Sleepy Hollow, New York, in the late 1800s. An unusual, superstitious man, Ichabod becomes infatuated with beautiful heiress Katrina van Tassel. Ichabod's chief rival for Katrina's affections is bully Brom Bones, who is extremely annoyed by the attention Katrina bestows on the skinny Ichabod. At the van Tassels' annual Halloween frolic, Ichabod and Brom dance feverishly to capture Katrina's favor, and when it appears that Ichabod will win, Brom tells the chilling story of the Headless Horseman in order to scare his superstitious competitor. At the party's end, a subdued Ichabod rides home on his horse, and as Brom's story echoes in his head, the shadows and scary noises of the forest become all the more upsetting. Suddenly, Ichabod sees the Headless Horseman astride his fiery steed, riding madly behind him. Ichabod and his terrified nag race toward a covered bridge, which must be crossed in order to escape the fiend, but their fright turns them around and they run straight into the horseman. Finally turning his horse the right direction, Ichabod reaches the bridge, but the horseman throws a flaming pumpkin head at him. The next morning, all that can be found at the site of the mysterious proceedings is Ichabod's hat and a shattered pumpkin. After Katrina and Brom marry, rumors spread that the vanished Ichabod settled down elsewhere with a rich widow, but believers in the Headless Horseman legend persist in their conviction that the fiend spirited away the hapless schoolteacher.
Jack W. Bruner
Robert O. Cook
Don Da Gradi
Gene De Paul
Eva Jane Sinclair
C. O. Slyfield
John O. Young
Robert W. Youngquist
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)
He was born on September 5, 1912 in Santa Monica, California. He showed an interest in art and drawing at a very young age, so it came as no surprise when he graduated from Stanford University in 1934 with a degree in art. Soon after, he began work for Walt Disney Studios and did his first animation for the short Mickey's Elephant in 1936, and was one of the key animators for the studios' first, feature-length animated picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). His memorable creations of the seven dwarfs offered an emotional sweep and humorous detail to animated characters that audiences had never experienced before, and his career was set.
Thomas' work from this point on would be nothing short of the high watermarks in Disney animation that is justly cherished the world over: the title character in Pinocchio, (1940); Thumper teaching Bambi to skate in Bambi (1941); the wicked stepmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the terrific fight sequence between Captain Hook and Peter Pan in Peter Pan (1953); the Lady and Rover falling in love over a dish of spaghetti and meatballs in Lady and the Tramp (1955); the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty (1959); Baloo, Mowgli and Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967); and his final work of Bernard and Bianca in the underrated The Rescuers (1977).
Thomas retired from Disney in early 1978, ending a near 44-year relationship with the studio. With longtime friend, and fellow Disney collaborator Ollie Johnston, they went on to author many fine books about the art of animation, most notably Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life (Hyperian Press, 1978) and The Disney Villain (Hyperion Press, 1993). He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jeanette; sons Thomas, Doug and Gregg; daughter Ann Ayers; and three grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Frank Thomas (1912-2004)
This film is sometimes referred to as Ichabod and Mr. Toad by both contemporary and modern sources. Working titles for the picture, which at various times in its production history was to include other characters that do not appear in the completed film, were Wind in the Willows, The Magnificent Mr. Toad, Three Fabulous Characters and Two Fabulous Characters. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, producer Walt Disney purchased the rights to Kenneth Grahame's classic children's book in late June 1938, and 1941 news items note that the studio originally intended to produce the subject as a single, feature-length picture called Wind in the Willows. Due to a variety of factors, including a labor strike at the Disney Studio and the studio's work on war-related shorts during World War II, production plans on the feature were dropped until after the war.
A July 5, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Gracie Fields had been signed by the studio to sing in and narrate the "Wind in the Willows" segment of the film. A February 10, 1948 Hollywood Citizen-News news item stated that Charles Laughton was "wanted" for the "Wind in the Willows" segment. Neither Fields nor Laughton contributed to the final picture, however. According to a March 1, 1948 Hollywood Reporter news items, Bing Crosby's four sons-Phillip, Gary, Dennis and Lin-were signed by the studio to work on the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" segment. A March 1, 1948 New York Herald Tribune news item added that the boys were to be seen "in a Halloween scene, listening to their father's voice on the radio." Other news items noted that the younger Crosbys were to be filmed in August 1948 for the intended live-action sequence, and a March 1948 New York Times article stated that the Crosby family would receive five percent of the "gross revenue" from the picture, up to $200,000, in lieu of a straight salary. The Crosby children do not appear in the completed film, however, nor are there any live-action sequences. The March 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item also noted that the Washington Irving segment was "in line with Disney's plan to produce a slate of features based on American folklore, a program which he started with Melody Time" (see below). Although one modern source credits Ollie Wallace with supplying the voice of "Winky," other sources credit Alec Harford with the part. Other actors included in the cast by modern sources are Leslie Dennison (Judge/First weasel) and Edmond Stevens (Second weasel).
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, which won a Golden Globe for Best Color Cinematography, was the last of a number of "package features" produced by the studio in the 1940s. For more information on the "package features," which were comprised of two or more individual segments, see the entry below for Make Mine Music.
Although The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad has never been theatrically re-issued, as most other Disney animated productions have been, the two segments have been released separately under the titles "The Adventures of J. Thaddeus Toad," "The Madcap Adventures of Mr. Toad," "Wind in the Willows" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The shorts have been re-issued both on television and theatrically. Other filmed versions of Washington Irving's story include a 1908 Kalem Co. short (see AFI Catalog. Film Beginnings, 1895-1910; A.08532); a 1958, one-hour episode on the television show Shirley Temple's Storybook; and a 1986, one-hour installment in Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales & Legends television series. Other filmed versions of Kenneth Grahame's children's book, all entitled The Wind in the Willows, include an animated 1985 Rankin/Bass feature for which Charles Nelson Reilly, Roddy McDowall and José Ferrer supplied voice characterizations; another animated feature, also released in 1985, which was directed by Mark Hall; a 1997 Allied Filmmakers live-action production, which was directed by Terry Jones and starred Jones, Steve Coogan, Eric Idle, and John Cleese and the 1999 Paramount release, Sleepy Hollow, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
Released in United States Fall October 5, 1949
Released in United States March 1979
Re-released in United States on Video May 25, 1999
Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty MovieMarathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)
Re-released in United States on Video May 25, 1999 (50th Anniversary Version)
Released in United States Fall October 5, 1949