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Movie Review: "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad" (1949)

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 1/6/1950

Theatrical Release: 1/6/1950

Film Synopsis

Mr. Toad (Basil Rathbone) is extremely wealthy and is the owner of the historic Toad Hall. His family has lived in the manor for generations, and the community looks to it as a symbol of success. However, Mr. Toad has been having a bit of a crisis. He has become obsessed, developing a mania of sorts, with a new horse and buggy. He purchased the horse and buggy spontaneously, he left his old friend Angus MacBadger (Campbell Grant) in charge of the books at Toad Hall, and he has been rampaging across town with his new purchase. He has built up a collection of bills for damages during his endeavors, but something new has caught his eye—a motor-car! Swapping out one mania for another, Mr. Toad's new obsession will certainly get him in more trouble than his last.

In another story, narrated by Bing Crosby, Ichabod Crane is new to the town of Sleepy Hollow. It is a small town, and Ichabod is fancied by most of the women there, despite the local ladies' man Brom Bones' best efforts. When the lovely Katrina comes to town, the two compete for her affection. Late one evening after a party at Katrina's manor, Ichabod is alone in the woods and begins to suspect that he is being followed by the legendary Headless Horseman.

The Pros and Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75 pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Mr. Toad's Addiction and Katrina (+4 pts)

Mr. Toad's Proof (-3 pts)

Toad Hall (+5 pts)

Mr. Toad's Ending (-2 pts)

Ichabod and The Headless Horseman (+6 pts)

Ichabod's Relevance (-3 pts)


Pro: Mr. Toad's Addiction and Katrina (+4 pts)

The filmmakers had a long way to go before reaching the climax of Mr. Toad's story. They made this road entertaining through their focus on Mr. Toad's mania. His mania was amusing, very self-destructive, and it delivered a few surprises along the way. The viewer was able to relate to Water Rat (Claud Allister) and Mole (Colin Campbell) because, like them, the viewer had no idea how far Mr. Toad would go to satisfy his mania, or where his mania would take him next. The mania was silly, it kept me guessing, and it most importantly kept me entertained as the story got closer and closer to its climax.

Then there was the competition over Katrina in Ichabod's story. I liked the back and forth between Ichabod and Brom Bones, and I liked how oblivious Katrina was to the extent of it. The filmmakers did not make Katrina out to be dumb, but rather, they showed Ichabod's sly way of dealing with the Brom Bones problem. It made for a number of silly and entertaining moments that I enjoyed watching, and it made it easy to get invested in Ichabod's pursuit of Katrina.


Con: Mr. Toad's Proof (-3 pts)

I knew I had to suspend my disbelief a bit for a movie like this one, but even after accepting the world that was set up in this story, I found it a little hard to believe that Mr. Toad's innocence could not have been proved more easily. No one wanted to go check out Toad Hall? No one wanted to go check out the manor that served as a monument, of sorts, for the local community? It seemed hard to believe that no one would have swung by the manor, especially considering what was happening with Mr. Toad. Again, knowing the type of movie, I am more forgiving of this issue than I otherwise would have been. Still, I could not help but think how easily Mr. Toad's innocence could have been proven if literally anyone swung by the famous manor, and given how relevant the manor was to the case, it did not make sense for no one to do any sort of investigation into the manor whatsoever.


Pro: Toad Hall (+5 pts)

I know everyone is worried about The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad spoilers, so fear not, I will keep this both vague and brief. I really liked the climax of Mr. Toad's story. It had the suspense of potentially getting caught, it had a clear goal, it had a bunch of protagonists who were in way over their heads and a ton of antagonists that could not quite get the job done. It was a funny scene, it was chaotic in the silliest way, and it was pretty entertaining to see how the whole thing turned out.


Con: Mr. Toad's Ending (-2 pts)

I get part of the ending to Mr. Toad’s story, but another part makes no sense at all. I understood the part related to Mr. Toad’s innocence. Trying to prove his innocence was the whole point of the climax of this story, so I understand that part of the ending. What I did not understand was the fate of Toad Hall.

Based on Mr. Toad’s actions earlier in the movie, the fate of Toad Hall and Mr. Toad’s innocence were two very separate issues. Proving Mr. Toad’s innocence would in no way solve the Toad Hall problem, but the filmmakers just pretended that they were somehow tied together. The climax was all about Mr. Toad's innocence, but when the dust settled, the climax really only could have solved the one thing. It was as if the filmmakers knew they would have needed a whole other section of the story in order to resolve the Toad Hall problem, but they did not feel like writing a whole other section, so they just wrapped everything up even though it made no sense.


Pro: Ichabod and The Headless Horseman (+6 pts)

Once Ichabod's story finally got to the part with the Headless Horseman, I was totally invested. I liked the song sung by Brom Bones. I liked Ichabod thinking he was being tailed, and the truth behind the noises he was hearing. I liked the fear that both Ichabod and his horse felt over what may have been following them. Finally, I liked how isolated Ichabod felt in the woods. I had no idea how far Ichabod was from town, but I definitely felt that he was too far away from where he needed to be, and too far away from any help, which amplified the sense of danger. I liked the beginning of Ichabod's story, and the climax was engaging and intense in the best way.


Con: Ichabod's Relevance (-3 pts)

I liked the beginning of Ichabod's story, and I liked the Headless Horseman stuff that happened in the climax, but I thought the writers could have done a much better job of making the two parts of this story feel connected. The main part of Ichabod's story was the rising action, and it was all about Ichabod finding his place in Sleepy Hollow, and trying to win over Katrina. The climax of the story was all about Ichabod potentially crossing paths with the Headless Horseman. I liked both parts of the story, but they felt like very separate things, and I feel like the writers should have spent a little more time integrating the two parts of this story together. Unfortunately, they did not do that, and it made the whole Katrina thing feel wildly irrelevant during the climax.

Grading Scale






























Grade: B- (82 pts)

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad was a collection of two short stories. The first was about Mr. Toad's passion for motorcars, and what that passion cost him. The second was about Ichabod Crane's pursuit of Katrina, and his run-in with the Headless Horseman. Mr. Toad's story seemed to suffer from some lazy writing, with a case that should have been easy to prove, and an ending that made little sense. However, Mr. Toad's addiction was entertaining, and the climax of his story was a lot of fun. Ichabod's pursuit of Katrina worked really well, and everything regarding the Headless Horseman was really entertaining, but I thought the writers could have done a much better job of connecting these two parts of the story. Both stories had their strengths and weaknesses, but this was ultimately a decent movie.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Movie Beasts


Movie Beasts (author) from MA on December 03, 2019:

Lol I know, right?! I had a fun time rewatching it

Rachelle Williams from Tempe, AZ on December 02, 2019:

Lol! I remember this one!