Viewing: I'm calling it a first for the whole movie
Director: James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kenney
So, we were hunting around for something spooky to watch on Disney+, and I saw they had The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). I'd never seen the movie in its entirety. If I ever saw the Wind in the Willows bit that makes up the first half, I don't recall it at all.
However, the Ichabod Crane part based on Washington Irving's Sleepy Hollow is for good reasons, a Halloween staple. And, I've seen it a dozen times or so before.
Taken as a whole, this movie is very weird and unnecessary. It's clearly two stories that have nothing to do with each other slapped together with a wildly awkward framing device of a library of real books and voice over by, first, Basil Rathbone and then Bing Crosby, which tells me something about how much the left hand and right were talking to each other as this came together.
As a kid, my first real exposure to Mr. Toad was via the Disney World attraction, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which was - I ain't gonna lie - super f'ing fun. My memory was that the ride was chaotic and goofy as hell. And I understood it was based on a fancy toad who got his hands on a car.
Well, the movie version is... kind of annoying. I don't really have another word for it. Unlike most Disney, there's no character development, and Toad just seems like a problem for everyone around him. Like, that one friend who is now on drugs and you're all supposed to make sure he doesn't harm themself or anyone else. The animation is pretty good, and it gave us the weasels that pop up in Roger Rabbit, but... yeah. This is the rare Disney animation that I just have no affection for - but weirdly like the ride.
And Ichabod itself is also strangely... boring. And there's no one to actually like. But, when you do get to the actual Sleepy Hollow scene, it's amazing work. But 5 minutes or so is not enough to carry a whole movie.
What I guess is that Walt, post-WWII, was just not all that into the animation studio stuff anymore, and you can feel his hand off the wheel in the storytelling department - something that would plague them til Little Mermaid. It's not horrible stuff, but it feels like someone let the animators just animate whatever they felt like rather than working toward a cohesive story, for two whole stories.
But, again, that Headless Horseman.