Tag Archives: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

My Thoughts on: Casper (1995)

For the first time in perhaps, ever, I’ve decided to fully embrace the spirit of Halloween by watching (and reviewing) a number of “Halloween-ish” movies, many of which I haven’t watched in a long time (and some I haven’t watched at all). At the top of this list was Casper, a film I’ve watched many times over the years, but hadn’t seen in a while. I previously watched The Wicker Man and The Adventures of Ichabod Crane, but as I’ve already reviewed those films, I decided to start my coverage with Casper.

Casper, as the name implies, is based on the comic book character “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and expands on that character’s backstory. In this film, Casper lives at the condemned Whipstaff Manor (a gorgeous mansion that I would totally live at if it were real), along with his three ill-mannered (and disgusting) uncles: Stretch, Stinkie, and Fatso (I’ve never liked them). His lonely existence turns upside down when Kat (Christina Ricci) arrives with her father Dr. James Harvey (Bill Pullman) at the request of spoiled-brat-heiress Carrigan Crittenden (Cathy Moriarty), who wants the ghosts removed from the house so she can claim the “treasure” that supposedly lies inside.

For being 25 years old (yes, really!!) Casper holds up extremely well. The CGI is impressively convincing (especially when you consider this movie was made in 1995 with the appropriate level of technology). Casper, in particular, is very well done, even with an upgrade to the Blu-Ray format. I really enjoyed re-watching the scene where Casper makes breakfast for Kat. And the scene where human Casper dances with Kat is still one of my favorites.

The story of Casper is pretty entertaining too. It’s a cross between a comedy that borders on raunchy (with pretty much anything involving the Ghostly Trio) and a young teen comedy (for anything involving Kat and Casper). Except, of course, for the scenes that involve Casper’s death or that little detail where we find out Casper’s dad was locked up in an asylum when he was on the cusp of bringing his son back to life. There’s some definite mood whiplash in Casper, but it doesn’t distract from the quality of the film in the slightest.

Even knowing all that, I still forgot how emotional this movie is. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here or not, but I lost my grandmother this summer, and as a result the scene where Dr. Harvey reunites with Amelia (albeit briefly) hits me in a completely different way than it ever did before. This is also helped along by James Horner’s gorgeous score, which is truly one of the highlights of the film. “Casper’s Lullaby” (that haunting melody you hear when Amelia appears or is referenced) legitimately makes me cry every time I hear it. And, on a slightly petty note, I was reminded how much I HATE Amber (that snobby blonde who doesn’t like Kat), and it is so satisfying when she gets what’s coming to her from the Ghostly Trio.

There are, however, two plot points that have always bothered me about this film, and I want to mention them here. First, it is heavily implied that Amelia is now an angel in Heaven. If that’s the case, how in the world do the Ghostly Trio know her, never mind have access to her? Amelia crossed over and didn’t become a ghost, so shouldn’t it be impossible for them to contact her period? Also, how unfair is it that Amelia appears to Casper and Dr. Harvey, but not Kat?? I kinda hope Kat never found out about this meeting because how would you feel if your untimely departed mother came back to Earth for one night and didn’t come see you?? Though, now that I think about it, maybe she didn’t have to because Kat had already made peace with her mother’s passing? It still bothers me though.

Other random notes:

-I love ALL of the stained glass in Whipstaff Manor, if I were independently wealthy I would totally build a house based on Whipstaff (secret passages and all).

-Carrigan’s comeuppance at the end of the film is so, so, SO satisfying. I’m positively gleeful when she gets tricked into crossing over.

-One other Carrigan note: it’s kinda scary how quickly she warms up to the idea of killing Dibs (she definitely has issues). Also, what kind of name is Carrigan??

-I’m pretty sure Dibs dies in this movie (the lawyer last seen being thrown out a window). After all, after he’s thrown through the window he’s never seen or heard from again.

In conclusion, I had a great time watching Casper again, and it will definitely be a regular part of my Halloween viewing lineup from here on out.

Let me know what you think about Casper in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Katrina” (1949)

In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane is the awkward yet likable enough school teacher in the village of Sleepy Hollow. He leads a contented life teaching the children while shamelessly flirting with most of the women in town when, one day…he happens to notice the beautiful Katrina van Tassel. Katrina is described as the most beautiful woman in town and she has every unmarried man in Sleepy Hollow wrapped around her finger (without even trying). Naturally Ichabod promptly falls head over heels for the young heiress (though the narrator states he’s equally interested in her fortune as much as her looks), but the short song about Katrina indicates that she’s not as innocent as she looks:

 

Oo oo oo oo
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
Once you have met that little coquette Katrina
You won’t forget Katrina
But nobody yet has ever upset Katrina
That cute coquette Katrina
You can do more with Margaret or Helena
Or Anne or Angelina
But Katrina will kiss and run
To her a romance is fun
With always another one to start
And then when you’ve met that little coquette Katrina
You’ve lost your heart

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Katrina is described as “that little coquette,” meaning she loves to flirt. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a later line forebodes that Ichabod’s quest for Katrina’s hand will end badly: “but Katrina will kiss and run/To her a romance is fun/With always another one to start…” I take this line to mean that Katrina has no problem playing with men’s feelings and doesn’t take declarations of love seriously, which can be hurtful if the person expressing those feelings is genuine. And believe me Katrina is taking full advantage of men’s feelings for her, like having them assemble a picnic or carrying all of her packages. It IS funny though to see how quickly Ichabod is smitten by Katrina: one look and he puts a chicken on his head and starts eating his hat!

What do you think of “Katrina”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Headless Horseman” (1949)

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Headless Horseman” (1949)

 

In Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (sometimes billed as The Adventures of Ichabod), the story follows lanky schoolmaster Ichabod Crane as he attempts to woo the beautiful (and very rich) Katrina van Tassel, to the increasing chagrin of Brom Bones, the town hero. In truth, Katrina is only paying attention to Ichabod to make Brom work harder to secure her affections, but neither man knows this.

 

Things come to a head when a Halloween party is held at the van Tassel residence. After being upstaged by Ichabod most of the evening, Brom notices that Ichabod is superstitious (he throws salt over his shoulder after spilling some) and decides to use this knowledge to his advantage. He gathers the company around and begins to sing the story of the Headless Horseman, a terrifying ghost reputed to wander Sleepy Hollow.

Just gather ’round
and I’ll elucidate
on what goes on outside when it gets late.
Long about midnight,
The ghosts and banshees,
They get together for their nightly jamboree. 
There’s things with horns and saucer eyes
some with fangs about this size.

Oh When the spooks have a midnight jamboree,
they break it up with fiendish glee.
Ghosts are bad,
but the one that’s cursed
is the Headless Horseman,
he’s the worst.

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Ichabod pays rapt attention to the song, his terror growing with every verse. “Headless Horseman” is considered one of the darkest songs ever created for a Disney film (right up there with “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame). According to Brom (performed by Bing Crosby), the Headless Horseman rides one night each year to search for a new head. However, if you can cross the bridge at the end of the Hollow, you’ll be safe from the Horseman’s power.

Now, if you doubt this tale is so,
I met that spook just a year ago.
Now, I didn’t stop for a second look,
but made for the bridge that spans the brook.
For once you cross that bridge, my friends,

The ghost is through, his power ends.

So, when you’re riding home tonight,
make for the bridge with all your might.
He’ll be down in the Hollow there.
He needs your head.
Look out! Beware!

Of course we’re meant to find Ichabod’s terror funny because, so far as we know, Brom is making this story up. After all, there’s no such thing as ghosts…or is there? Given how Ichabod’s encounter with the Horseman plays out, it seems possible that Brom might have been telling the truth after all (but that’s a story for another time).

Personally, I don’t remember being scared by this song as a kid (though I don’t think I saw this particular film very often), but I can see how it would be scary for some. Brom can look quite menacing when he chooses and he brings all his talent to bear on scaring Ichabod before he leaves the party. If I heard a song like that, I’d be nervous about riding home in the dark too.

What do you think of the song “Headless Horseman”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Katrina” (1949)

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

The Wind in the Willows “The Merrily Song” (1949)

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) is one of those early Disney films that has sadly fallen by the wayside. It came about in the years immediately after World War II when Disney found themselves with a pile of animated segments that were too long to be theatrical shorts but too short to be full length features. As a result, Disney created a series of “package films,” films that consisted of two or more animated segments. Previous installments included: Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), Make Mine Music (1946), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Melody Time (1948) and also The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

mr-toad

The first segment in this package film adapts Kenneth Grahame’s classic story “The Wind in the Willows” and is narrated by Basil Rathbone. The story follows the misadventures of one J. Thaddeus Toad (Eric Blore), a country squire who is spending his fortune on every fad he comes across. When we first meet him, he’s engaged in his latest mania: driving a gypsy cart across the countryside with his new friend, a Cockney-speaking horse named Cyril Proudbottom (J. Pat O’Malley) and together they are singing the insane “Merrily Song.”

Mr. Toad: Tally Ho! Tally Ho! Tally Ho!
Are we on our way to Nottingham, to Brittingham; to Buckingham
Or any hammy hamlet by the sea? NO!
Cyril: Are we on our way to Devonshire; to Lancashire or Worcestershire?
I’m not so sure, we’ll have to wait and see!
Mr. Toad: NO! Are we on our way to Dover or going merrily over
The jolly road that goes to Plymouth, ho!

Mr. Toad and Cyril: NO! We’re merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
merrily on our way to nowhere in particular.
We’re merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
merrily on our way where the roads are perpendicular.

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Cyril: We’re always in a hurry.
Mr. Toad: We have no time to stall.
Mr. Toad and Cyril: We’ve got to be there, we’ve got to be there,
but where we can’t recall.

Whoo! We’re merrily, merrily, merrily,
merrily, merrily on our way, and we may
be going to Devonshire to Lancashire to Worcestershire.
We’re not so sure, but what do we care, we’re only sure we got to be THERE!
We’re merrily on our way to nowhere at all!

Mr. Toad’s enthusiasm is infectious, or at least it is to me, because every time I watch this scene I’ve got a big grin on my face by the end. And it’s easy to understand why Mr. Toad is so happy: who wouldn’t be excited getting to ramble about the countryside in any direction they wished to go? Never mind all the chaos and destruction he’s leaving in his wake, Mr. Toad can’t help but pursue his mad adventures.

I hope you enjoyed reading about and listening to “The Merrily Song” from The Wind in the Willows. Let me know what you thought about this scene in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

See also: Disney Soundtracks A-Z

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

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My Thoughts on: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

So yesterday was my birthday!! I had a wonderful day (though the visit from the family was too short) and got some great gifts. Among which, I finally got a copy of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), one of my favorite Disney films from childhood! Although, I should say the Ichabod Crane segment was my favorite. I’d never actually seen the entire feature (with The Wind in the Willows segment) until last night. But the story of Ichabod and the Headless Horseman, that I’d seen, and when I saw it on sale yesterday, I snatched it up!

The Story of Ichabod Crane is narrated by Bing Crosby (crooner extraordinare) and tells the story of how a lanky, gluttonous (and very superstitious) schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane came to Sleepy Hollow and fell in love with the gorgeous Katrina von Tassel, daughter and heiress of the richest man in the county.

Ichabod-mr-toad-disneyscreencaps_com-4493

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Ichabod” (1949)

But Ichabod isn’t the only suitor, the burly and fun-loving Brom Bones is in love with Katrina too! Poor Brom does everything he can think of to impress Katrina, but somehow it always backfires with Ichabod around.

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “Katrina” (1949)

Actually, Katrina does prefer Brom (you can tell by the way she looks at him), but she continues to flirt with Ichabod to make Brom jealous (because she wants to make sure that Brom really wants her, enough to fight for her that is). Then, on Halloween night, during a party at the von Tassel farm, Brom remembers that Ichabod is deeply superstitious and he decides to regale the guests with the story of the Headless Horseman, a specter said to haunt Sleepy Hollow.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “The Tale of the Headless Horseman” (1949)

The song “The Tale of the Headless Horseman” is regarded as one of the darkest Disney songs ever created, and nearly didn’t make the final cut of the film. According to the song, if you should encounter the Horseman, ride for the covered bridge, because the Horseman has no power past that point. By the end of the song, poor Ichabod is scared out of his mind as he rides for home. The hollow is full of crickets, frogs and owls, all seemingly whispering the name of “Ichabod.” The poor man (and his horse) become even more terrified when they think a horse is galloping towards them, but it turns out to only be cattails banging against a log. But just as they begin to laugh in relief…the REAL Headless Horseman appears!!

Ichabod-01

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow “The Horseman appears!!!” (1949)

This part scared me silly when I was little, and why not? This guy has a diabolical laugh, a big sword, and a black, red-eyed horse that’s every bit as scary as the rider! Ichabod makes a run for it, and after several scary-but-kinda-funny mishaps, he clears the bridge, so he should be safe! But the Horseman has one trick left to play: though he can’t cross the bridge, he sends a flaming Jack-o-lantern hurling at the schoolmaster! The next morning, all that remains of Ichabod is his hat (and the pumpkin). He’s never seen in Sleepy Hollow again. Shortly thereafterward, Katrina and Brom get married, and it’s common speculation that Brom was in disguise as the Headless Horseman. I’ve thought so for years, except there’s one detail that wrecks the theory: during the chase, Ichabod clearly peeks down where the Horseman’s head should be and finds nothing there. If it was Brom in disguise, shouldn’t he have seen Brom’s head?

Regardless of whether the Horseman was real or not, I enjoyed getting to see this story again after so long. It’s a little known Disney gem that I think you will enjoy.

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