Tag Archives: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

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

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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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).

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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.”

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

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!

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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 🙂

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

ichabodposter

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.

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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!!

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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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