FUN AND FANCY FREE / THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD  [2 Movie Collection] [Blu-ray]
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 9 March 2016
FUN AND FANCY FREE / THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD  [2 Movie Collection] [Blu-ray] Disney’s 9th and 11th Classic Full-Length Musical Cartoon Feature!
Double bill of Walt Disney animated features which each include two different stories. In ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD MR. TOAD'  we have Basil Rathbone who narrates the tale of “The Wind in the Willows” in which the foolish Mr. Toad tries the patience of his friends through his obsession with motor cars; and Bing Crosby tells the story of “Sleepy Hollow” in which nervous teacher Ichabod Crane's budding romance with the lovely Katrina is threatened when he encounters the ghostly horseman who reputedly haunts the town. Narrators Dinah Shore and Edgar Bergen can be found in ‘FUN AND FANCY FREE'  and features 'BONGO' the bear and based on Sinclair Lewis's 'Little Bear Bongo,' which tells the tale of a lonely circus bear who finds love in the wilderness; and we have 'Mickey and the Beanstalk' which includes live-action sequences and sees Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy in a variant of the familiar tale, with the trio climbing a magic beanstalk in an attempt to rescue a singing harp.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad’ 1950 Golden Globe® Awards: Win: Best Cinematography in Color.
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Cast: Basil Rathbone (Narrator), Bing Crosby (Narrator), Eric Blore, J. Pat O'Malley, John McLeish, Colin Campbell, Campbell Grant, Claud Allister, The Rhythmaires, Oliver Wallace, Pinto Colvig, Leslie Denison, Alec Harford and Edmond Stevens
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney and James Algar
Producer: Walt Disney (uncredited)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Screenplay: Washington Irving, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ted Sears, Winston Hibler, Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves and Kenneth Grahame (based on the story)
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad Composer: Oliver Wallace
Fun & Fancy Free Cast: Edgar Bergen, Dinah Shore, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, Luana Patten, Donald Duck [Clarence Nash], Goofy [Pinto Colvig], Mickey Mouse [Walt Disney/James MacDonald], Jiminy Cricket [Cliff Edwards], Anita Gordon, Billy Gilbert, Candy Candido, The King’s Men, The Dinning Sisters and The Starlighters
Fun & Fancy Free Directors: Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts and Hamilton Luske
Producer: Walt Disney (uncredited)
Fun & Fancy Free Screenplay: Homer Brightman, Harry Reeves, Ted Sears, Lance Nolley, Eldon Dedini, Tom Oreb and Sinclair Lewis [BONGO original story]
Fun & Fancy Free Composer: Charles Wolcott
Fun & Fancy Free Musical Score: Eliot Daniel, Paul Smith and Oliver Wallace
Fun & Fancy Free Song Composers: Ray Noble, William Walsh, Buddy Kaye, Bobby Worth, Bennie Benjamin, George Weiss and Arthur Quenzer
The Reluctant Dragon Cast: Robert Benchley, Frances Gifford, Buddy Pepper, Nana Bryant, Claud Allister, Barnet Parker, Billy Lee, Florence Gill, Clarence Nash, Norm Ferguson, Ward Kimball, Jimmy Luske, Alan Ladd, Truman Woodworth, Hamilton MacFadden, Maurice Murphy and all the Staff of the Walt Disney Studios
The Reluctant Dragon Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Hamilton Luske (cartoon sequences), Jack Cutting (cartoon sequences) (uncredited), Ub Iwerks (cartoon sequences) (uncredited) and Jack Kinney (cartoon sequences) (uncredited)
The Reluctant Dragon Producer: Walt Disney (uncredited)
The Reluctant Dragon Screenplay: Ted Sears, Al Perkins, Bill Cottrell, Harry Clork and Kenneth Grahame (based on the story)
The Reluctant Dragon Musical Score: Frank Churchill and Larry Morey
The Reluctant Dragon Song Composers: Charles Wolcott, T. Hee and Edd Penner
The Reluctant Dragon Cinematography: Bert Glennon and Winton C. Hoch
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Running Time: 141 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: RKO Radio Pictures / Walt Disney Studios
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: In ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD and MR. TOAD’ [1080p] [1.33:1] [68:00] you have two segments in the film both based upon popular works of literature, which are as follows:
‘The Wind in the Willows’ is based on Kenneth Grahame's and is narrated by Basil Rathbone. In this story, the charismatic J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq., the happy-go-lucky upper class proprietor of Toad Hall who believes in fun and adventure, has built a great deal of debt from disregarding the financial responsibilities of his insatiable love for transportation vehicles, such as the new-fangled motor car. Mr. Toad’s friends, Mole, Water Rat, and Angus MacBadger try to help him when his mania leads to the loss of the deed to Toad Hall and a charge of car theft. Toad is thrown in jail but Mr. Toad's loyal horse Cyril Proudbottom pays a visit and inspires him to escape, which he does, only to learn that Mr. Winkie, the tavern keeper, and the weasels have taken over Toad Hall. With his friends, Mr. Toad redeems his good name by recovering the deed to the estate. Mr. Toad promises to reform, until he eyes a 1908 biplane. The film then ends with Mr. Toad regaining his house while it implied Winkie and his minions have been arrested and imprisoned. As McBadger, Ratty and Mole celebrate the New Year with a toast to Mr. Toad, who they believe has completely reformed Mr. Toad and Cyril recklessly fly past on a Wright Flyer; Mr. Toad has not truly reformed and developed a mania for airplanes.
The story of ‘Ichabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ and was based on Washington Irving's novel "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and is narrated by Bing Crosby. The gangly and lanky Ichabod Crane is the new schoolmaster in Sleepy Hollow. His somewhat odd behaviours make him the ridicule of the rambunctious and robust town bully Brom Bones. Despite his unattractive appearance, he quickly proves to be a ladies man who charms the local town beauty, Katrina Van Tassel, a beautiful young daughter of a wealthy farmer, much to Brom Bones's displeasure. Ichabod Crane has his eye on the Van Tassel wealth. His subtle rivalry decides that he is a little too successful and needs "convincing" that Katrina Van Tassel is not for him. After a number of unsuccessful efforts, the situation changes when Brom Bones decides to take advantage of Ichabod's superstitions. Brom Bones musically tells the tale of the Headless Horseman to frighten the teacher. That Halloween night, Ichabod Crane's lonely ride home becomes livelier than he ever imagined as he encounters the terrifying phantom and is mysteriously missing the next morning. The next morning, Ichabod Crane's hat is found at the bridge next to a shattered pumpkin, but Ichabod Crane is nowhere to be seen. Sometime later, Brom Bones's takes Katrina Van Tassel as his bride. Rumours begin to spread that Ichabod Crane is still alive, married a wealthy widow in a distant county with children who all look like him. However, the people of Sleepy Hollow insist that he was "spirited away" by the Headless Horseman.
As an added bonus to all Walt Disney fans, like me, we have the brilliant animated cartoon ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ . The cartoon starts with an introduction by the narrator of the story. One of the main characters, the Boy, who is reading a book about knights and bloodthirsty dragons, is introduced. His father comes rushing by, claiming to have seen a monster. The Boy reassures his father that it was only a dragon, to which the father panics and runs to the village in fear. The Boy then goes to the Dragon's lair, where he is confronted not by a ferocious beast, but a shy, poetry spouting creature. The Boy, though surprised at seeing what a nice creature the Dragon is, befriends him. When he arrives back at the village, the Boy discovers that Sir Giles the Dragon slayer has arrived. He runs to tell the Dragon that he should fight him, only to be left disappointed when the Dragon announces that he never fights. The Boy visits Sir Giles (not St. George as in the original story), and it is revealed that Sir Giles is an old man. The Boy tells Sir Giles that the Dragon will never fight and they decide to visit him. Inside his cave, the Dragon is too scared to fight and cannot breathe fire. The Boy calling the Dragon a "Punk Poet" leads to the Dragon getting angry and eventually spitting flames. The Dragon jumps for joy as he is now ferocious. The fight ensues, with Sir Giles chasing the Dragon around with his sword and into the cave, where they drink tea and make noises to make it seem they are fighting. Sir Giles places his lance under the Dragon's arm, and then the Dragon jumps out of the cloud and performs a dramatic death scene. The story ends with the Dragon being accepted into society, to which the Dragon recites a poem: "I promise not to rant or roar, and scourge the countryside anymore!" Sir Giles is drawn by the animators to somewhat resemble Don Quixote. The film closes on Benchley and his wife driving home. She harangues him for failing to sell the movie and that by dilly-dallying, Benchley missed his chance to sell the rights, with Disney having already produced a film. He answers "phooey," in the style of Donald Duck.
In ‘FUN AND FANCY FREE'   [1.33:1] [74:00] This is an animated feature produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures on 27th September, 1947. It was one of the "package films" featuring feature-length compilations of shorter segments that the Walt Disney Studio produced in the 1940s. It is the ninth animated feature in the Disney Animated Canon, and the fourth package film by Walt Disney. With ‘FUN AND FANCY FREE’ you have two feature animated film segments, which are as follows:
First up we see Jiminy Cricket from the ‘Pinocchio’ animated film, who first appears inside a large house, exploring it and singing "I'm a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow," which was originally written for the Walt Disney ‘Pinocchio’ animated cartoon, until he happens upon a record player and some records, and sets it up to play the story of "BONGO," as told by Dinah Shore, however, in the re-release of ‘BONGO,’ Cliff Edwards narrates the story.
‘BONGO’   [1.33:1] Here we get to hear Singer Dinah Shore via the record narrate the story of the circus bear cub Bongo that has been very badly mistreated, but once Bongo is off stage and while traveling by train, his natural instincts urges him to break free. Bongo runs away from the circus to the wild and the adventures that follow, with the great outdoors. The next morning however, he meets a female bear named Lulubelle. The two fall in love, until Bongo immediately faces a romantic rival in the brutish, enormously-shaped bear named Lumpjaw, and almost loses her to a mean alpha bear because he doesn’t understand how bears communicate to each other in the wild. Bongo fails to interpret Lulubelle slapping him as a sign of affection and when she accidentally slaps Lumpjaw, he claims her for himself, forcing all other bears into a celebration for the "happy" new couple. Bongo comes to understand the meaning of slapping one another among wild bears and returns to challenge Lumpjaw. He manages to outwit Lumpjaw for much of their fight until the two fall into a river and go over a waterfall. But what happens to Bongo and Lulubelle, you will have to view this animated cartoon and find out the final conclusion to this family oriented cartoon. But overall it is really a beautifully produced animated cartoon; and the highlight for me being the love ballad “Too Good To Be True” set against every heart-shaped visual gag the Walt Disney studio could muster up. However, I do think the film has a bit of significance that’s been overlooked. For me and this is up for debate, it is the first film to exhibit the sophisticated post-war Disney animation style. So let’s hear it for ‘BONGO’ the quiet little “missing link” that bridged the earlier Walt Disney animation film to the later Walt Disney house style. This was based on an original story by Sinclair Lewis.
‘MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK’  [1080p] [1.33:1] This is a moralised tale with an adaptation of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy as peasants who discover temperamental Willie in the Giant's castle in the sky through the use of some magic beans. The trio then conspire to escape back to Happy Valley with the harp by means of the beanstalk. As Donald and Goofy transport the harp, Mickey Mouse attempts to tie Willie's shoestrings together as an insurance policy in case Willie wakes up, but ends up waking him up as a result by accident. Thus begins a wild chase, with Willie in hot pursuit of Mickey as Donald and Goofy take the harp back down the beanstalk. At the bottom, the trio set to felling the beanstalk with a large saw, causing the giant plant to topple and causing Willie to fall to his supposed doom. The trio return the harp to her rightful place in her castle, restoring Happy Valley to its former glory. The cartoon ends with Willie the Giant, who has survived the fall, stomping through Hollywood looking for Mickey Mouse. Before the scene closes, Willie notices The Brown Derby restaurant and picks up the building searching for any sign of Mickey Mouse and since the restaurant looks like a hat, places it on his head, and stomps off with the HOLLYWOOD lights blinking in the background. Narrated by Edgar Bergen [live-action sequences].
The ‘Mickey and the Beanstalk’ portion of the film was the last time Walt Disney voiced Mickey Mouse, as he was too busy working on other projects to continue voicing the famous character in addition to being an open smoker and it hurt his lungs. Walt Disney replaced himself with sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald.
Special Feature: ‘THE RELUCTANT DRAGON’  [1080p] [1.33:1] This is an American combined live-action and extended-length short animated film produced by Walt Disney, directed by Alfred Werker, and released by RKO Radio Pictures on 20th June, 1941 and is based upon Kenneth Grahame's book of the same name which you actually see throughout the film. The film starts at Robert Benchley's home as he plays in his swimming pool, shooting darts at toys, but Robert Benchley's wife is excited at the idea of producing a film about a children's book “The Reluctant Dragon.” Robert Benchley's wife finally convinces him to approach Walt Disney, so they drive to the Walt Disney Studios and there, she leaves Robert Benchley at the studio gate while she goes shopping. But Robert Benchley is determined in trying to delay in trying to sell the rights of “The Reluctant Dragon” to studio head Walt Disney while visiting the Walt Disney. Essentially we get a tour of the then-new Walt Disney Studios facility in Burbank, California, with the film star radio comedian Robert Benchley, who was American humourist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor, who I found very irritating and annoying. At the Walt Disney studio, Robert Benchley evades an enthusiastic young tour guide and, wandering about the lot, goes into a drawing class, thinking he is going to see a young lady modelling, but it turns out to be something totally different and a total disappointment. Robert Benchley then visits a soundstage, where he watches a couple recording a song, unaware they provide voices for famous cartoon characters. Robert Benchley later visits the camera stage and then the animation department, where he discovers a surprise. Plus we get to see many of the Walt Disney staff, such as Ward Kimball, Fred Moore, Norman Ferguson, Clarence Nash, and Walt Disney, all as themselves. The first third of the film is in Black-and-White, and then the remaining two-thirds are in glorious Technicolor. Most of the film is live-action, with three short animated segments inserted into the running time, with a Black-and-White segment featuring Casey Junior from ‘DUMBO’ and two Technicolor cartoons: ‘BABY WEEMS’  and Goofy's ‘HOW TO RIDE A HORSE’ .
Special Preview Trailers: Disney Movie Rewards [1080p] [1.85:1] [00:18]. Disneynature: BEARS [Blu-ray] [1080p] [2.35:1] [00:36]. Disney Movies Anywhere [1080p] [1.85:1] [00:45]. Sleeping Beauty – Diamond Edition [Blu-ray] [2.20:1] [1:15]. Legend of the Neverbeast [1080p] [1.85:1] [1:05]. Second Hand Anti-Smoking Promotion [1080p] [1.33:1] [00:19].
Blu-ray Video Quality – Walt Disney Studios has once again given us something truly special, as this Blu-ray disc 1080p encoded image transfer is really terrific. With each featured animated cartoon it is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and each animated cartoon looks really great. With the animated cartoons ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and ‘Ichabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ features very few minor imperfections, especially with lots speckles now and again throughout both cartoons, but nothing too serious to spoil your enjoyment. Though not 100% perfect, but this new presentation is a significant improvement over the dreadful inferior 2000 DVD release. Still for a nearly 70-year-old film that to my mind is well loved and again is a 100% improvement over the original ghastly inferior DVD release in its heyday.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Walt Disney Studios again presents us with a very nice rounded and decidedly decent 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround track. Narration and dialogue are very intelligible, grounded and neatly prioritised, and the music is full and, and sound effects are given limited but effective directional play courtesy of the rear speakers, especially considering the age of the animated cartoons. Plus with the sound effects of the engines, headless horsemen, brutish bear bullies and lumbering giants are granted extra weight and presence. The very important thing is to keep in mind is that ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD’ is near pushing sixty-five in 2015 and with ‘FUN AND FANCY FREE’ it turned sixty-seven in 2015. But despite their age, they still sound really great and fresh, despite their years, but of course please don’t expect them to sound like they were made with modern sound recording techniques. So please adjust your expectations accordingly, as you will be more than pleased with the results you with the audio presentation.
Finally, come along and have some fun with ‘THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD,’ that has a nice bonus for you to enjoy with this Walt Disney's animated films retelling of two wonderful legendary classics, ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ that is so wonderfully narrated by Basil Rathbone, and you have the equally entertaining ‘Ichabod Crane and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow,’ narrated by the legendary smooth talking Bing Crosby and comes together in one magnificent animated cartoon adventure. These classic animated films follow Walt Disney's tradition of combining great storytelling, unforgettable characters, music and adventure to create fun you can share with the whole family. Then to round off the Walt Disney fun and frolics, you have the really wonderful ‘FUN AND FANCY FREE,’ where Jiminy Cricket brings to life the timeless tale of ‘BONGO’ the bear and also where we find the wonderful cartoon characters Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy in ‘MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK,’ which was the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse and the only theatrical animated film co-starring all three of Walt Disney’s most famous cartoon characters. Plus, we also have the bonus of the equally wonderful Walt Disney cartoon classic, ‘THE RELUCTANT DRAGON’ and all combined on this wonderful Blu-ray release! Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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