Directors: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney
Release Date: October 5, 1949
‘The Wind in the Willows’ is the first of the two stories that make up the compilation feature ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad‘.
This story had originally been conceived in 1938 as a possible feature film, before it was shelved in 1942. The 1949 version is clearly truncated, and it shows. This story tells only an episode from ‘The wind in the Willows’ starring the enthusiastic Toad, whose love for chariots and cars causes a lot of trouble for himself and his quiet, all too British friends Water rat, Mole and Badger. The story is quite unfaithful to the book, giving a large role to one Cyril the horse and containing both a long scene at the court and a long sequence in which our four friends try to steal a document from a gang of weasels.
Although the English feel is retained, this version of ‘The Wind in the Willows’ completely lacks the poetry so typical for the book. Sure, Toad’s intoxicating character has been transferred to the screen very well, but the characters beside him never really come off. Moreover, the story is told too unevenly to be either exciting or endearing, and the interplay between animals and humans remains unconvincing. The backgrounds are uninspired, especially when compared to those in ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow‘, except for those in the winter train sequence. The weasels, which are animated excellently with broad comedy, anticipate those in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?‘ (1987).
Watch ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad’ yourself and tell me what you think: