(The Disneycember logo is shown, followed by scenes from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Doug (vo): So we went from a bunch of shorts to just two to a bunch of shorts to just two again. Only this time, there was a feeling that the stories they picked were much more out of the norm. These weren't really fairy tales, they were sort of classic stories. Both have their funny upbeat moments, but both had this very underlying dark tone throughout the whole thing. Even the setting for the narrator's is a little off. It's just this dark, dark library, you don't even see the narrator. It's just these books sort of floating and the stained glass window with a candle in it. When I was a kid, I loved it. As an adult, I still love it. But heck, let's talk about them individually.
Story and review of The Wind in the Willows (Mr. Toad) Edit
Doug (vo): You got The Wind in the Willows, which, when you get down to it, is another very strange book. Not that animals are walking and talking, that's not the weird part, it's that fact that everybody else in the world is human. And not just that, they're to scale. The rat is literally the size of a rat, that just looks so odd. But the rest of the story seems to follow pretty closely to the book. You got Toad who's an extremist with anything; anything that's new, anything that's hot, he's all over it. Mania, as the Brits like to call it. And he suddenly gets obsessed with motor cars. So he makes a really stupid deal with a guy named Weepy who...I don't know, I'm sure he's some sort of ethnic stereotype...in that he hands over Toad Hall in exchange for the car. But in court, Weepy tells a different story and says that Toad stole the car*, which gets him thrown in jail and only his friends are able to save him. Moley and Rat are a lot of fun, Toad is enjoyably crazy, and even that horse gets a few good one-liners.
Prosecutor: Then how did he get a motor car?!
Cyril Proudbottom: The only way a gentleman gets anything, the honest way.
Prosecutor: And what is the honest way?
Cyril Proudbottom: Ha-ha, I thought you wouldn't know that, guv'nor!
Doug (vo): (laughs) I fucking love that line.
- The character's real name is Winky and he said Toad tried to sell him a stolen car
Story and review of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Ichabod) Edit
Doug (vo): Next, you have The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which, in terms of story layout, even to the original book, is so odd to me, but I really love it because of that. Most of the short is just Ichabod Crane and how he interacts with the people in the town. He has a bully, he has a girlfriend, there's a little bit of a love triangle, and most of it is done through mime. You have Bing Crosby narrating it, but, for the most part, people don't really talk. And yet so much character still comes out of them, including the fact that, something I never noticed as a kid, Ichabod is kind of a dick. I mean, when you look at what he wants to do, he wants to marry this woman and mainly get her money. I mean, he's already fantasizing her father being out of the picture.
Ichabod: (thinking) Well, the old goat can't take it with him, and when he cuts out, that's when I cut in.
Doug (vo): I think a lot of people when they look back think of Ichabod Crane as just this innocent that gets killed by the Headless Horseman. But, no, he was actually sort of a bastard, which for Disney, is kind of interesting. It's one of the few times where you actually have sort of a jerk be your lead. In fact, you could make the argument that Brom Bones, though he's a bit of a bully, is much more of a good guy. I mean, he doesn't do anything really wrong or, at least, not as wrong as Ichabod, and for all we know, maybe he'd make a better boyfriend, who knows.
[Scene of Ichabod in the woods running away from the Headless Horseman]
Doug (vo): But, of course, the part everyone remembers is the built up appearance of the Headless Horseman.
[Exact scene plays out, with the Horseman laughing maniacally, leaving Ichabod and his horse scared out of their wits]
Doug (vo): By God, that laugh is cool. I think it's one of those rare times that a lot of kids found themselves both scared and laughing at the same time. The climax is a lot of fun that way, it's sort of like Evil Dead 2. In fact, I'd be shocked if director Sam Raimi didn't take a lot of the atmosphere and tone directly from this cartoon.
[Another scene plays where Ichabod collides into the Headless Horseman and looks down where his head should be. The Horseman laughs again and understandably, Ichabod is terrified.]
Doug (vo): It's just your classic ghost story with a classic ghost story ending.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): And the two seem to go actually pretty well together. Both take advantage of the fact that it's cinematic and they can get a lot of fun angles, and they also stick true to their stories as well as taking some creative liberties. Whenever anyone thinks Wind in the Willows or Sleepy Hollow, these are usually the first two versions that come in mind. And that's probably not so bad. It's good to read the originals, of course, but these are pretty good adaptations. It's heavy on the dark, but also big on the laughs. Either one is great on its own, but back to back, they work just as good.
[The scene where The Headless Horseman throws a flaming pumpkin at Ichabod is shown as we fade to black]
Singers: You can't reason with a headless maaaaaan...
Bing Crosby: Man, I'm getting out of here.